For whom the bells toll, time marches on…

The truth is, the bells toll for everyone. Mortality is present in all our lives. I’ve come to comprehend that having a ‘terminal illness’ just means that mortality is more forthright in your field of view. The bells toll a bit louder for me. But, does time really exist? Certainly our perception through a tool we call ‘consciousness’ is presented through a (sort of) linear series of individual events. The events make up our lives; the past, the present and the future (events yet to be experienced). I say (sort of) linear, because whilst we compose the experience as a stable time line, we’re not always conscious. When we’re asleep, or if we’re unlikely enough to get knocked out (or in surgery as well come to think of it), the time line isn’t perceived. Our brains piece it together when we’re awake again, but that perception is not completely constant. However, from our perspective, time is real and time is a foundation to the conscious experience of life. What if time didn’t exist though? Everything else remains the same, but all events of any kind are not separated by a linear time-line. Instead, everything that has ever happened, is currently happening or is going to happen (based on our current perception abilities) is constant and simultaneous. In fact, this would suggest that our perception of ‘reality’ (even in its current form) is potentially flawed as well. Through the existence of time, history is forged through individual decisions and events that dictate the outcome of reality and create an ongoing stable framework which we remember as our lives. Without time however, this would mean that everything that exists has either been pre-determined, or is limited (for some reason) to a singular series of outcomes of which there is only one way through. Imagine that the universe that has no real time within it was not just a simultaneous existence of everything we currently know of through memory and history, but instead a simultaneous existence of every single possible event that either did happen, could of happened or might yet happened. The individual events or outcomes that now all combine into a singular, non-time orientated universal framework but represent every single possible form of reality (as we currently view it) that could ever exist within the physical laws of the universe in which we live. If this was in fact the reality of existence and that ‘time’ is a neat little trick that we’re using to experience a little segment of the entirety of the universe, it would mean that we’re each sampling a little segment of existence (within our brain’s ability to interpret). Doesn’t mean we’ve experienced the whole deal though. So why would this be? Could our ‘lifeforms’ be very simplistic? Maybe this is the only way we can deal with our existence in the non-time orientated multiverse. An ant’s perception of reality is no doubt a tiny subsection of the experience that we have of life. We’re more intelligent than an ant, but does that mean we’re as intelligent as is possible within the universe? Is this actually a ‘game’? Like playing a computer game? If we actually don’t exist within the confines of our known physical framework, we could just be a tiny segment of a wider perception which is used for the sole purpose of examining or experiencing sub-sets of all the potential routes through the static multiverse by using time as an investigation tool. So why am I banging on about this? What’s most interesting for me is that time is the single item of our reality that creates a fear of death. If time isn’t real, then there is no such thing as death. Everything coexists at the same time. Events whereby we weren’t present. Events when we were. Events where is no longer engage. They all exist at the same time with no ‘linear’ framework that discards each event as it happens. Could the ‘afterlife’ we (or certainly me) crave, simply be a return to a non-linear existence that is endless and varied all in many different routes. If we’re playing a game, perhaps death is just the reason we reset our experience and head through another route for another time version of how things ‘are’. I suspect that many people, like me, trying to face the concept of mortality , find many ideas like this. Ideas that offer opportunity to think of an end of life in a way that is easier to face. There’s also been some cool science articles published recently that begin to suggest this sort of stuff. Evidence that consciousness may really be stemming from outside the limit of the human brain. Great reading when you’re worrying about death! Anyway - mortality is not always in the very front of my mind, but it’s close by more than before I had cancer. My MRI scans are the time it comes to bear the most. This past week, I reached a significant part of my cancer journey. I got to the end of a year of Chemotherapy after the recurrence of my cancer back in January 2016. My MRI scan was very important because the time had come to stop the Chemo treatment as there is a limit to what the human body can handle with these types of drugs. Also, a limit to the effectiveness they can offer. So, with the end of my Chemo in site, the MRI scan results would reflect one of three possible routes. The first would be that my scan was clear, and I’d get a bit of time whereby my normal life would return. The second would be that the cancer is back (it’ll always be back at some point) and I’d need another treatment. Like more surgery or similar. This one was scary but certainly more desirable than the third option. Actually, it sort of fascinates me because I’ve already had quite a lot of my brain removed so the idea of taking more has sort of got a darkly humorous tone to it! The third option is that it’s back and no treatment is possible, so I would then die. That’s the super scary, shit your own pants one. Whilst waiting for the results, I did the same thing I always do and research the statistics in an attempt to ‘man it up’ in preparation for the appointment. It always shits on my day but I can’t stop myself doing it. The statistics were really horrible. Average life expectancy after a recurrence is 6 weeks to 6 months. Chance of repeat surgery for each recurrence is 1 in 4 cases (25% chance). I didn’t know that bit before the last surgery, so I had already been extremely lucky. I was absolutely terrified as I waited to see my oncologist and as he walks into the room to talk to me, the whole ‘time’ thing became super bizarre. It felt as though I could have read the entire text of ‘lord of the rings’ in the time it took him to sit down and smile at me. It was a kind smile, I very nearly wept. The scan was clear. I get some normal life back for a bit. Such a beautiful moment, just so, so lovely. In that single moment, I felt the profound beauty of experience than time can gift you at brief moments that pass through your life. No bad news to take back to my wife and kids. Another period to be with them and get some things done. More time to be with, and to annoy (I’m mega good at that) all the people I love! If time is just a tool that allows us lowly mortals to perceive a wider static universe, maybe it’s not just a burden that engages the fear of death. Maybe it’s something that we’ll truly miss once we return back to the static realm of quantum existence. My next scan is in 3 months and the 3 routes of destiny will await me once again. Whichever way it ends up going, I hope I remember the beauty of today. It couldn’t have come without the bells tolling and time marching on. Go here to the start of the journey. Go here to view previous blog entry.

 
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