Written language allows us to freeze Coral Reefmoments in time.  It creates history as a dead thing, static facts accreting like coral, the bones of the dead building structure for the living. Written language, recorded history changes our experience of the past, altering our perception of the now, and warping our relationship with the future. If the past is ever receding, an immutable dead thing, then the future is ever outside our grasp, constantly somewhere other than here, always hunted and never caught.  Recording the past deludes us into thinking that it is knowable, that it is controllable, that it is something we can have and use. We take pieces of it and construct a framework for our now, building expectations of how things work from how they have worked in the past. And with this framework we attempt to make a structure that will force the future into a form of our designing. With information, knowledge, and the evidence from the past we think to trap the future with plans, logic, and experience so that we can feel safe. We think we can understand how things work enough that we can know what will be even though it is a distant other place and in all of the doing we are not attending to what is happening in the now.

But this is not how it’s always been.  Before written language there was a different way of experiencing time. Before history was written, history was known through relationship. Time was a spherical thing containing all which had gone before. The now was an expansive thing which contained a full cycle of seasons, those which had passed away and those which were to come. Everything was interconnected with the now in intimate and intricate ways. Historians pulled their hair out in despair because when they asked the indigenous cultures what their history was, everything was related as earlier today, yesterday, and tomorrow in what seems a jumbled mess of factlessness. The horrible storms of 100 years ago were connected to the storms last month, which will be/are connecting with the storms of tomorrow and 1000 years from now.  It’s not that the people don’t know about the past and the future, but interconnection keeps them from being distant, reminds us that they are no more a dead thing than we are. The future is not in some distant place, but here and now, part of the present that we are experiencing and flowing outward from it with grace and strife and life.

When we are afraid of what is ahead, afraid of the unknown, of the “what if” then it is comforting to be able to control the future. Knowing exactly what is expected of us, what is to come, and how to prepare for it helps us feel safe, capable, and empowered. Yet the future is nothing that we can control. Like the air and the water it simply is. We need it, we exist in it, we flourish when the balance is right, we struggle when it is not, and we can be killed when there is too much or not enough. So what is to be done? Live. Prepare to be and do what you want and be flexible to flow with what comes your way. Be the person you want to be rather than hoping you’ll become that person in some distant future. Manifest the life you wish to have knowing that this life is not some island in a sea of time. The life you want is intimately connected to the living past which was a million years ago yesterday and in relationship with the infinite future full of now.  You are in and part of all of it so there is nothing to fear and every reason to be. Participate in all of your life, not just planning it. Your choices and actions ripple through time so make the most of each moment.