Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Jump Ahead?

Have you ever heard someone say something to the effect of, "I wish I could just jump ahead 5 years (or some interval of time)"? Usually its said by someone on the verge of, or in the middle of, a situation that is less than desirable. For example, I remember saying something like this in college, especially in my last semester. I didn't want to continue to trudge through the slow process, the daily grind, the early mornings, the late nights, the studying, the exams, etc. I just wanted to jump ahead to the end of the semester or graduation. I knew I'd make it, but I didn't want to wait for it, particularly if I had to deal with the "crap".

So, I admit that I have said something like, "I wish I could just get to graduation" - or something remotely close to that. We have all probably said or heard someone else say something to that effect at some point in our lives.

But recently I realized that that is a foolish statement - or at least a statement that doesn't really make sense if you really think about it. Let me tell you why I say so:

To begin, I will pull from mathematical theory. Envision a timeline, if you will, that starts with your birth on one end and continues (visually to the right like a y-axis) into infinity - though likely more like to 78 or so. Note that your "present" life is some point on that line between birth (point zero) and the right end of the line which represents the future. As it were, that "present" point would slowly move to the right as time passes by. If life had a pause button, we could stop/pause your "present" life. We could also just choose any point in your life up until "present" that would take a snapshot of your life at that time. Now as any mathematician would know, there are an infinite amount of points between point zero and, say, point 78. We generally count our life in years, months, days - and we could go down to hours, minutes, seconds, fractions of seconds, etc. But when we talk about a "point" in time, a "point" really has no significance as far as duration; it is so minuscule, it really almost doesn't exist at all. Or maybe a better way of saying it is that we, as humans, cannot detect or sense a specific "point" in time - even as it is happening. [For instance, if you were to prick your finger with a needle, although you can see the needle hit your finger with your eyes and it appears to happen at the exact same time that you feel the needle with your finger, in actuality, there have been an infinite amount of "points" between the time the needle actually did touch your finger and the point at with you saw it and the point at with you felt it (since it takes time - however little - for signals to pass through your body from your eyes and fingers to your brain).]

What I'm getting at is that as far as the above example illustrates, everything we experience, we experience so quickly (in time) that it is basically in the past before we even really comprehend it. By the time you are done saying the word "now" it is already in the past. As I see it, the idea of "experience" or "present" is really just those memories that are most recent. So, whether something happened to me one millionth of a nanosecond ago or 6 months ago or 12 years ago, its all in the past and is a "memory" or an "experience" from the past.

Where I'm going with this is that even if someone were to skip ahead in life, nothing would really be or seem different at that particular point than if they went through the time in the first place (assuming they didn't want to forget or erase from memory the time they skipped): the things that was most recent would be more fresh in the mind and the things that happened longest ago would be deeper in memory, JUST LIKE IT IS NOW.

So the idea of skipping ahead is kind of like moving a scroll bar on a computer's (dare I say iTunes) video controls: just because you jump farther ahead, it doesn't change, alter, or undo anything before that point. It still exists and you would still know its there. So if you don't like your current situation, it is pointless to wish to jump forward, because even if you could it wouldn't be any different then just getting there in normal time. But since you can't anyway, instead of wishing, why don't you be proactive and do something about it?