Thursday, December 04, 2008

Which Moves--the Train or the Station?

One of my goals in life has been to be the kind of father that was in the old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip--the kind who is always messing with his kids' heads. This past week we were all in Boston and took our first ride as a family on the T.

I told them, "You know what's weird? It's the stations that are moving. We're just sitting here while everything else moves around us." And, of course, with a certain perspective that's just how it seems.

My kids, of course, immediately recognized this as one of Daddy's "jokes," yet I've been finding myself thinking about it more seriously lately. I've been reading a number of books all of which have made at least passing reference to the idea that the passage of time is something of an illusion. The past, as it were, is only a memory and the future is only a dream. This moment--right NOW--is all that exists. And even the sense that this moment flows into the next "this moment," that one NOW passes into the next NOW moment is an illusion. There is only NOW.

So do I "move" through time or does time "move" around me? Is NOW a series of moments, like stations on a line, through which I move, or is there only NOW, still and stationary, like a train that remains motionless while the stations move past?

No wonder I liked Calvin and Hobbes.

In Gassho,

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