Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past. – James Joyce
For the past month, I have been editing a new novel. To write a novel you have to deal with characterization – where a writer “reveals the personality of the character”. But a terrific amount of creative alchemy occurs during the summoning of a fictionalized being out of the ether. All creative people, in one way or another, call upon fundamental elements that transcend time and space. Whether they use years of training and experience or gather inspirational lightning, regular time is suspended. The prosaic world recedes leaving behind the boundlessly imaginative. And, when wandering within this Infinite Now, anything is possible.
How long is Now? This moment, then this, then … Masters and gurus teach we need to let go of the past and focus on the Now and not the future. But few minds can work this way for extended periods of time. Some elements of modern life require knowledge of the past, and plans for the future. It would be unsafe for instance to drive a car without anticipating what’s ahead or behind. Work, school, appointments… demand we note the time. However, there are enchanted moments that transcend normal time. These are the moments when we are in-sync with the Infinite Now. We all are capable of entering that transcendent flow state. You all have experienced this altered state many times, but it is often dismissed. Realize this truth – the path is within us all.
Out of nowhere the mind comes forth. – Diamond Sutra
Trying to focus on my fictional work, today I was reading about a philosophical and psychological concept called self-continuity. It is said to be the basis of identity. There is a cord of continuity called “I” which runs throughout our lives. All our experiences across time are intertwined around this belief that the me then is the me now and will be the me in the future. This continuum across time helps root our minds in the NOW. Our culture plays a part in this as well. Western cultures have a very literal approach to time. The clock marks off life second-by-second; the calendar month-by-month; actuarial tables year-by-year. Along the way, we accomplish or don’t accomplish what we set out to do long ago. But that I, the me within, forms around the original seed of identity sprouted at birth – or perhaps before. Will that self-continuity endure beyond this mortal body? The very personal answer is the foundation of belief. Are we part of a finite or infinite realm? Many people require an unlearning process in order to have faith in the answer they find.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. – Oscar Wilde
And so, how do you determine your sense of narrative? If you are part of a high context society (group identity) or low context society (individualism) can change how you create your personal narrative. Each provides for self-continuity in different ways. I learned that psychologist call the relationship between events or conditions in the past/present/future is called intertemporal. Chasing after that temporal root led me to some interesting brain food. It is related to: worldly, secular, earthly and terrestrial. It is derived from the Latin word temporalis – temporary which from the word tempus – season, moment. And so embedded within such a high minded scientific word – intertemporal – we find the concept that this world is temporary. These moments strung together are all part of an eternal thread – the Infinite Now.
It has been said that what really separates us from other animals is our awareness of our own mortality. This awareness brings out sweetness in some and bitterness in others. As Camus said “There is not love of life without despair about life”. But we mustn’t let the despair define this life. Do not allow your personal narrative to be based solely on anguish and melancholy. Define your character increasingly in a positive light. Let that life-affirming illumination shine upon the infinite now connecting us all.