The Myth of Time

Einstein said, “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” 

If this is so, the only time we can ever know and manage is NOW. Fortunately, ‘now’ is infinite – for as long as we are aware.

An alternative, perhaps enlightened, viewpoint is that everything in this material world is transitory, being in a state of continuous flux. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form; energy to matter, matter to energy. In a world of such constant change, we’re obliged to respond, and respond we do. The process is predictable.

First, there has to be awareness of the need for change, otherwise there’s no incentive for a response. Our immediate goal is to recognize the impact and consequences of the change we’re now sensing upon our safety, security, and status. This requires an additional investment of focus and energy, and it’s destabilizing. Taken to extreme levels, it can become concern, worry and even anxiety and fear.

Once such recognition of the need to change is accepted, our motives change to assimilation or integration, to consider the legacies of any change. The worry may still persist but now it’s diminishing, and once it’s fully integrated it becomes invisible, it disappears. This process is a series of events in our awareness, frequently linear, sometimes cyclical, and persistent until resolved.

Time is the element in which such change occurs, the sequence and intervals between events. It is entirely subjective, having meaning and significance only for the person who is experiencing it.

The recollection of such processes is also personal, being accompanied by all of the attendant emotionality, which is rarely, if ever, fully shared by others who might be experiencing similar, concurrent events. However, there is little or no possibility of identical recall even though we may well expect this. Further, the originating awareness and recognition can never be revisited to assist with reassessments.

So, time is not objective, that is, it does not have a reality of its own, just whatever we might lend to it. It has immense value, in that it can and will help us to appreciate our current realities, including the decisions we need to make right now. It can also assist us to evaluate the potential of likely future options. In short, it is a great teacher and coach, but it cannot, and should not, be a part of our present reality beyond these roles.

Whenever we do give it objective reality, a life of its own, it becomes our master rather than our servant. We respond to our own past worries and anxieties as if they were still an active part of our awareness instead of just something that existed as a transitory experience in the past. We are paying interest on the interest we’ve previously paid. This makes absolutely no sense in the light of our limited resources.

There are so many demands on our current focus and energies, why would we spend them unnecessarily?


  • David E.C. Huggins

    David Huggins has fully enjoyed a lifetime of experience as a military officer and as a behavioural scientist, supporting businesses and similar enterprises, at both organizational and individual levels, through leadership coaching. A contemplative Christian, he is devoted to contributing love, value, comfort, and continuity to this diverse world. He resides in Campbellville, Ontario, with his lovely and talented artist wife, Judy. Huggins David