Backwards To The Future

If you could meet a previous self of say twenty years ago how close would you feel to that person? Would you feel comfortable for example in sharing the same clothes or toothbrush and if not how close would the gap in age have to be? You might or might not understand them – would they understand you? We inherit from our own past just as from our parents but in the same way feel ourselves changed and separate.

Going the other way would the person you are now fully exist a decade or two hence? Or would there be a steady fading out of that consciousness not just in the cells but in all we rightly or wrongly consider lies mysteriously beyond them?

Throughout life through steady change we continually give birth to a new version of ourselves, becoming our own descendants.

It’s been discovered we use the same cerebral mechanism to commune with a future self as we do to empathize with strangers so that self control can fairly be called empathy in time rather than space.

Physically we will likely want to stay the same or even regress a little but psychologically we wouldn’t go back in time for even a minute. We hold our memories tighter than our bodies, indeed we identify completely with these thoughts of the past, recordings that are less fixed and trustworthy than we believe.

We’d like to keep our memories while changing past events but unfortunately there’s no dress rehearsal for life, no chance to do it all again this time for real, avoiding previous mistakes this time – or indeed deliberately repeating them.

Contrary to how we usually verbalize it we don’t really face the future at all but face the past as we travel backward through time. It’s only the past we can see and consider – and often a distorted incomplete view at that – while the future is behind our field of view and must be unknown.

Our image of a constant self through life is a chimera not just physically in the cells but even in the psyche. Our cherished memories, pleasurable or not, are really from another being.  To cease identifying with previous selves is not only saner but more effective in daily living. Ne’d like to keep our memories while changing past events but unfortunately there’s no dress rehearsal for life, no chance to do it all again this time for real, avoiding previous mistakes this time – or indeed deliberately repeating them.

Contrary to how we usually verbalize it we don’t really face the future at all but face the past as we travel backward through time. It’s only the past we can see and consider – and often a distorted incomplete view at that – while the future is behind our field of view and must be unknown.

Our image of a constant self through life is a chimera not just physically in the cells but even in the psyche. Our cherished long-term memories, pleasurable or not, are really from another being. To cease identifying with previous selves is not only saner but more effective in daily living.  No longer constrained by fears and biases there is space for the raw information itself to provide the solution. We can even consider – pretty much the reality – that our pasts have happened to someone else.

Insight as art and science