Stare at Now

aged alarm clock antique background

Stare at now and see that it is the same thing as next. How can we differentiate them? Even if we dot this immediate second and call it “now,” we know that that itself is made up of milliseconds or even the microunits running on a stopwatch, none to be identified as singular. Stare at what you think of as the present moment to grasp how it is simultaneously the next moment.

We can do this exercise to see that looking at what we call now also shows us our present action, the activity our body is engaged in, in the space it is physically occupying. Do the dot application again to see “this” action, i.e., the activity your body is currently in. Is it not, too, the same as your next action? The one you do after the one you are doing? Can we discern these two, or three, or four, or five? How do we set apart one moment or action from the next?

If we cannot distinguish this action from our next action when viewing now, how do we decide our next actions? Aren’t we already in them now? (This can equally apply to our thought process—when does one thought end and another begin?) How widely do we define a scope of time or the word now to signify a true moment or a true now? Could it not be a lifetime, or millions of lifetimes as easily as a second? Is there a specific time frame that indicates a definitive present moment?

If a moment is equally a lifetime as it is a second, this means our whole lifetime of decisions, choices and actions is implied at our birth, or our conception, or the beginning of time itself. This is because there is no way to consciously interrupt the flow of time or human activity to insert a desired action that is other than what we see our body doing now.

For me, this is a personal way of comprehending determinism and how it is that we could never have done otherwise or can never be doing otherwise than we did or are doing, which qualifies as having no choice, or, no free will. I understand this to apply to myself and every other being in the world, as mind-boggling and potentially distressing as that can seem. It can, however, be a relief to know that none of us can make a wrong move against nature’s reality, even if it flies in the face of all our brain-based moral consideration. Sigh. What will be will be, the good, the bad and the in-between. We may as well enjoy the freedom this knowledge imparts as it means we can surrender to what we are doing now without moral hesitation, fear or the prospect of genuinely endangering ourself.

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you very much for the read; such an interesting thought provoking piece.

    But don’t you think measuring the moment you’re in now – requires that you miss it? i.e. Don’t you think the act of observing the moment, means you are not the participant of it?

    I agree, that there is a flow to events, that every event since the dawn of time happened because of an event that came before it. But I would not agree that this implies a moment could not be differentiated.

    Just because in the moment you cannot determine the passing, the ending and beginning of new moments, does not mean they do not happen. i.e just because you slowly heat up water, does not mean it is simultaneously hot and cold, it’s just at some point it stopped being cold and started being hot.

    Thanks again for the read, it definitely activated my thinking cap for the day.

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    1. Thanks for your response! I don’t think it didn’t happen. It is happening. The entire thing is happening. Everything we do is happening. But there’s no beginning or end in the way that we consciously perceive it. But my point is mostly to recognize that we cannot impose an action onto the moment because we’re already in our next action. Not sure what you meant by the fact that we can observe it means we’re not a participant of it. Our body is the only we in the space doing anything. We can see it just like we can see anything else we look at, the weather, another person doing something, a dog running, etc. Hope that helps ☺

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      1. You’re very welcome, it’s always pleasant to share opinions.

        I don’t think that’s quite what was conveyed here, at least not in my opinion. And with your reply, it feels as though two separate points are being made.

        I too believe everything is happening at once – but obviously since we are perceiving it from the one perspective, there must be definable and discernible points where actions/events are different. E.g. It would be foolish to say I am writing at my desk, and also sleeping, and also having a bath – just because I will do them at some point. To the singular perspective, there is linearity – which means there are events by which we can compare moments. I am not in the same moment now, as I will be when I’m in the bath.

        So while TIME may work differently to how most being believe it to work, to the self, it is still linear in nature because we have a singular perspective by which we can view it.

        There certainly is a beginning and an end, I was typing this comment, and when I hit send, I am not. For it is sent. That is an example of how I can perceive differences in moments.

        My apologies, let me clarify; I didn’t say that if we can observe the action, we are not participating in it. I said that if we observe the moment of the action, then we are not acting out the moment, we are observing it. i.e. it’s a paradox; as soon as I ask, is this the moment? It is gone, and so is the answer to the question different.

        Also your last two sentence in your reply didn’t make much sense to me, as this was not in dispute.

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      2. I am definitely not trying to imply that there is not linearity. I agree entirely. Definitely not saying that things are happening at the same time. But if you could map out the exact linearity, which again is sort of impossible because of the infinite aspect of time getting smaller and smaller and smaller in measurement, but if we could, one thing after another in sequence, still from our conscious perspective we cannot impose an action onto the flow as it feels. I think that language is a challenge as I could not know how my words are speaking to anybody reading them, as I clearly did not respond to your remarks as you were meaning them. But thanks for trying anyway and we’re doing the best we can here to communicate!

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      3. And finally, if we are observing the moment, we are still in the space in our action. Our body is doing something and it is also observing what it is doing. I do not believe we disappear just because we are observing. We physically occupy space continually so we can never physically disappear thus we are always in some action. if someone were taking a video of us we would see that we were always doing something even when we are not consciously aware of it.

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      4. I, in no way suggested we disappear. That is unfortunate you would reduce it to that. What you are now debating is physical space vs the more interesting topic I believed you to be discussing, which was perception. I’ll leave the discussion here, thank you. Have a good day.

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  2. I didn’t mean to imply that nothing is differentiated. We can consider all our actions differently than each other. But because a second, which we tend to think of as a moment, can be divided infinitely, there is no way to separate one moment or act from another because it’s all bleeding into each other. As a total aside, the emoji that appeared on my first reply to you is not the simple little 🙂 that I punched in on my phone!

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  3. I’m so sorry if I have upset you. I understand if you don’t want to answer this question but what did you mean when you said, “…if we observe the moment of the action, then we are not acting out the moment, we are observing it.”? This is clearly what I misunderstood. Thanks.

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