How very arbitrary everything is. An attempt to make order of it all leads to the greatest acheivements of human beings, science, art, structure. Everything exists, as do I. And my continued existence is dependent on All That Is. If that All were not there, nor would I be. Be, that is. Is. The mathematical orbits of atomic particles echo the orbits of planets and galaxies. Difference returns to congruency, always and always. We humans are bound to time: flowing, flowing, always flowing.
Picture a squiggly path through the frontier. We walk upon this path only in one direction: we walk backwards. Forever what we know of the path and its shapes and views is what we can see just past us. What we know of the future can only be guessed at by studying present and past surroundings and trying to navigate effectively.
If one were to zoom out to a bird’s eye view of the path, we could know where we are going. But we cannot. Our eyes are forever fixed to see the immediate and the past. In a view of physics in which perception of time is merely a result of our cerebral “placement” within the universe, then the path could appear to be predetermined. Writing in tenses is misleading, but we could say that that path is already set, though we walk it backwards with every illusion of free will.
But no: even if we walk backwards into a forest, the trails we create are only the ones that we have already traversed. Without a doubt the forest behind us, into which we walk backwards, exists with distinct trees and grottos and brooks already. As free agents we navigate as best as we can, and our experiences are the result of our choices interacting with the pre-formed geography.
By dint of memory, we can know more-or-less what to expect will creep up behind us in that path. That an object dropped will fall; that the tides will revitalize; that the viola will sound just so; that a sliver of regret and sweet smile will greet my words. Payday and music, death and rain.
With the intermixing of several billion beings all walking this forest backwards, we all come to a fairly cohesive understanding of the ground beneath our feet. Just as we cannot know what unexpected crash or intersection will alter our life-direction. What where we may stumble? What where we may leap? What where we may fall deeply? What where we may soar?
Scientific narratives of incredible devotion. Stories we know end, and music we can re-play. Within our limited gaze we like to simulate paths and endings via mathematics, stories, and music. For we can never appreciate our own paths ending, but only use the baroque structures of science to predict very well how things will be. Which is not always how things are, as we humans cannot be goverened by sets of equations. (Yet)
For us, the path is not walked voluntarily. We cannot stop for a rest within this stream of time. Take a break if you will, but the world goes on and tomorrow will come. The only possible pause is that of death. Or perhaps the death of memory. The death of memory would not cause us to be unable to perceive difference, only to limit it severely. Memory is not needed to know that there are two dots here: just perception. What would it be to perceive but have no memory? Memory is what sets us apart from a stone. A stone is. We also are. But we know we are, and so establish a difference between the stone and ourselves. If we did not know we were, then we could be as stones (or clouds or nebulae).
We are, of course, the result of the same matters and energies that give shape to the stone. We are as stones.
But we are not as stones. This is because memory exists. We can remember that we are not stones. This knowledge is memory in the present tense. Memory is the articulation of unrecoverable difference, while knowing (now) is just the present tense of diffence.
But from a perspective of reduced essentials the stone is the same as us, the same “matters and energies,” just as icebubes, vapor, and water are manifestations of one substance. The substance we and the stone have in common is called “reality,” or “existence,” or “difference”.