Time travelling

The other night I was browsing the topics being discussed in the ‘Philosophy of the mind’ community on Google+ and joined in a conversation on whether we’d ever be able to build a super computer for time travel. The next morning James Altucher’s newsletter was on time travel.

Why is it that some of us seem to be obsessed with the idea of time travel, wanting to either go back in time or catapult ourselves into the future? And, why do we think we need a machine to do it?

If I could just go back and …..

Some of this wanting to go back in time is no doubt motivated by a desire to know what really happened at some event, or to uncover those facts that didn’t get recorded in the history books, or to see if there really were dinosaurs attached to all those fossilised bones we’ve dug up all over the place.

Some of it, I suspect, is about wanting to change the course of history – what would the world be like today if you could go back and make sure Corporal Hitler was killed instead of wounded in 1918? or if you make sure the vote favoured Al Gore in 2000? or if you could go back and join the dots for the FBI and CIA so that 9/11 didn’t happen? Tempting, isn’t it?

If I could just find out what’s going to happen……

And, who doesn’t want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow? or next week? or in tens years time? Who doesn’t want to have an edge, something they know will be the next big thing that they can be the first to exploit? In fact, there’s a whole industry devoted to it: futurology. You’re already a time traveller….

The more I read on topics like consciousness and mindfulness, the more I’m convinced that most of us are time travellers on a daily, sometimes hourly, or even moment to moment, basis.

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘monkey mind’. David Rynick,  in his book This Truth Never Fails, uses the term ‘doggy mind’ that gives us a wonderful picture of how an untrained mind wanders all over the place, like a dog on a walk checking out every blade of grass, tree or lamp post. I love that picture.

Take a moment to watch your own mind. Just sit quietly and observe where it goes and what thoughts pass through it when you don’t keep it on a leash.

How many times have you become aware that while you’re driving the car you’re actually thinking about something else, like what’s going to happen when to get to your destination – particularly if you’re running late? That’s time travelling. You have put your attention, the conscious mind, into the future.

Or maybe you’re someone who has lots of regrets, and you’re always reliving those moments in your life when things didn’t go the way you wanted. That’s time travelling, and every time you travel back into the past, you’re playing around with your memories, and possibly distorting them. Take a look at memory on psychologytoday .

Where are you now?

If you’re time travelling, your conscious mind is not paying attention to what’s going on in the here and now, where your life is actually playing out.

Remember to breathe – you can only do it consciously in the here and now.

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