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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police keep eye on motorbike gang in Kelowna for poker run

The Throttle Lockers Motorcycle Club Poker Run was to have taken place on July 11

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Police search for suspect in assault on woman in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer displays COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Horoscopes for the week of July 13

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

Most Read