Listening to Everything at Once

Everything happens at once. Choose any moment, at random, and freeze it in time. This frozen moment must be a universal moment; every action of everyone in every place on Earth must be captured. Nothing before that moment, nor after it, is relevant. Just that single, random moment. If one then were able to examine every action and activity that was taking place at the instant the moment froze, the fact that everything happens at once would become crystal clear. At the very moment the mother in Uzbekistan drops mung beans into the moshhurda she is preparing, a terminally ill man in Los Angeles depresses the plunger that will deliver a fatal dose of morphine. The bicyclist turns his head to look for approaching traffic; at that second, a car veers to the right, thus avoiding what could have been an ugly accident. A soldier in Venezuela sprints across the border into Guyana, leaving her friends and family and her entire life until that moment behind her. Everything happens at once. It has always been so. We pretend life is a series of sequential events, but that is not the case. It is a single event that takes place at the precise moment that other life events take place. “Now” is impossible to capture, except in the abstract. The same is true of “time.” “Time” is an idea, not a tangible experience. All those individual frozen moments constitute the way time would look if we could see all those events take place simultaneously. Time would be chaos, indistinguishable from pandemonium. But we like order, so we establish artificial parameters to provide us with some semblance of tidy structure. Parameters like seconds and hours and years and decades and centuries. None of them exist, in fact, except in our imaginations. The instant an event has taken place, the moment of its expression has passed. “Before” becomes the only way to describe “then,” when referring to a moment that was, but is no more. And the future, too, is a hallucinogenic representation of something that may take place, but is not assured. And even if it does, it does not remain the future; it becomes the past. Before. Then. Time is a tangle, like a razor wire fence dropped from a hurricane hunter into the eye of a storm.


People clustered on either end of the ideological spectrum regularly dismiss information that puts their favored political perspectives in an unfavorable light. Demonstrable facts be damned, ideology takes precedence over facts. And, of course, the same people refuse to accept the possibility that positive information about their political opponents might reflect reality. In other words, both ends of the political continuum are populated by fanatics who value ideology over truth. Unfortunately, the numbers of inhabitants of the two extremes are growing. I have no idea how to transform those bitter beasts into a tolerable form of humanity. Fire and ice might be worth considering, I suppose.


Another dental visit; just the routine cleaning that takes place far too frequently for my comfort. But it will be finished before 10 this morning, I think. And the rest of the day will be mine; I can do what I wish, when I want. Except, of course, everything happens at once. That really throws a monkey wrench into tranquility and serenity; but I refuse to allow the wrench to sully the day. Because. Just because.


I had a dream in which I kissed someone on the neck. I was standing, along with dozens of other people, in a military-like formation in front of a castle. Everyone was supposed to stand rigidly upright and not move. But I leaned over and kissed the neck of the woman standing next to me. The moment I did it, I knew I had very publicly broken a rule and I was quite concerned what would happen to me. Fortunately, though, an orchestral flash mob suddenly appeared in front of the formation of which I was a part; everyone turned their attention to the music and the musicians. I slipped away.


Today is Tuesday. Perhaps the local newspaper (such as it is) will have something of interest for me to read. Perhaps not.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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