Taylor: We keep trying to make something out of nothing

We humans can’t not think of something; we can only think of something else.

Sometimes, in my editing workshops, I instruct participants: “Don’t think about a horse.”

They snicker. Because the first thing that pops to mind is a horse, of course. We humans can’t not think of something; we can only think of something else.

The same holds when someone asks, “What are you thinking about?”

You reply, “Oh, nothing…”

But you’re not really thinking of nothing—you’re thinking about things that don’t seem worth mentioning.

If you really want to try thinking about nothing, imagine what’s out there beyond the end of the universe. That’s right—nothing

How far does that nothing extend? Nowhere. Because there’s nothing there to extend to anywhere.

In nothing, there’s no length or space. No mass or volume. No time. So there’s no way of measuring how long what isn’t there hasn’t been there.

You find that confusing? Of course. Because we can’t imagine nothing.

So when we ponder the beginnings of the universe we live in, we can’t help wondering what was there before the beginning. But before the beginning, there was no before. Because there was no time.

That’s equally hard to get our heads around —no time? We can, with some effort, imagine a vacuum—provided it’s inside a container. But we can’t imagine the absence of time. Even in a coma, we age. It’s the one inexorable dimension we all deal with. Nothing that we can do stops it, or delays it, or reverses it. Time always flows in one direction, onward.

But time is not a thing, an object. It’s not like a road, which exists over the horizon even if we haven’t gotten there yet.

Time has a past. Time has a present. But it has no future, because the future hasn’t happened yet. By the time the future happens, it will be the present. Or the past.

The future doesn’t exist—yet.

We create the future, by everything we do. Each breath I take affects, however infinitesimally, the atmospheric composition my grandchildren will inhale 50 years from now. If I dump toxic chemicals down the drain, I affect the water they will drink some someday. If I start a war, I remove certain people and their descendants from everybody’s future.

Everything we do, everything we say—perhaps even everything we think—shapes the future our successors will live in.

Does that make sense?

If it does, you should recognize that it conflicts with the notion that a Great Engineer In The Sky designed everything in advance.

By that understanding, God wound up the universe and set it ticking, long ago, with every eventuality laid out in its gears. That road over the horizon already has its accidents in place, just waiting for you to get there.

I don’t believe that concept any more. If living creatures have free will—however that free will was granted—then whatever they/we do creates the future. The future has no form, until we form it as we move onward through life.

That’s why it matters what we do here and now.

Just Posted

Kelowna Boat Show highlights abandoned boat program

The 24th annual Kelowna Boat Show hits shores April 27 and 28.

West Kelowna fire under control

A fire broke out just above Bear Creek Provincial Park Monday

Kelowna’s Korczak, Canada en route to U18 quarter-finals

Kaedan Korczak and Team Canada play Latvia Thursday

Kelowna driver searches for man who allegedly tried to run him off the road

The driver said he just missed a biker trying to avoid a collision

Social media flooded with love for woman found dead on Kelowna beach

“We lost a sister. Because that is what we are it is a sisterhood and I can’t help but feel anything but sadness.”

VIDEO: Okanagan fire victim Amy Hansen speaks out on the loss of her four pets

A gofundme page has been started for Hansen, with $1,140 raised of a $5000 goal to help her rebuild

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Okanagan history in pictures

Grand opening of downtown Vernon Safeway store from 1965

Okanagan firefighter steps up to challenge

Andrew Haak will be one of hundreds of firefighters taking part in the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in Calgary on May 5

SPCA investigating hen cull at Shuswap egg farm

Egg farm regulator says they are confident cull at was done properly

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening now in the Okanagan

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Most Read