Where is the future anyway? Ask your average speaker of English and he’ll say, "Oh, it’s out there ahead of us still." Or perhaps, "Well, it’s not here just yet." You will also hear folks saying things like, "You’ve got your whole life in front of you," or else, of a bad experience, "Don’t worry, that’s all behind you now."
Notice the pattern here? In all these statements, the future is thought of as existing in space, and being located "in front" of us, just as the past is located "behind us." And either we are moving towards where the future is, or else we are holding still and it is moving towards us. "What kind of future are we heading towards?" you ask people.
We Think of Time as a
Kind of "Space"
In fact, almost all the ways we have of thinking about time involve "space" concepts we have transferred, by analogy, to the time domain. When measured, times are, are--you guessed it--"long," and "short." Voila! It's space language once again.
Well, fine--you may say. But so what? However interesting that may be, it's certainly got little to do with my spiritual life, my sense of fulfillment, my happiness here in this body. To which I will answer--hang on! Give me just a "very short time" and perhaps I can tie this odd observation to something very fundamental about the way you live your life.
But Time's Not Really Anywhere
To begin with, let's slip off our polarized linguistic sunglasses and take a fresh look at things. Time is obviously not literally any-where. We might say it's happening everywhere, because it is a process of change, or unfolding, that is universal in the plane of being we inhabit.
But let's begin to see this "the future's in front of me" thing for the metaphor it is. Like all metaphors, which are thought-tools, it might be very useful for some purposes while nevertheless being downright lousy for others. So the future's not really "in front of you." That's just one kind of image we use.
Indeed, linguists have found out that, in languages not related to English, speakers commonly refer to the future as being behind them, or backwards over their left shoulder. Why? Well, obviously, because you can SEE the past, IT has to be in front of you. Whereas you are blind to the future, which naturally then ends up being behind you. Once again, this whole "time as metaphorical space" thing is a thought tool, not an aspect of reality.
But if it's a "thought tool," then maybe there are different or even better ones. Let's get down to it here and look at that.
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