What is time but space? where
herefulness lies unhatched in
How cunning is the blade of now? that slices
what is from what does not exist
How wicked its bite, that snidely
rends apart what might not be
from what could not have been.
The rug stretches in every direction further than you can see. Patterns of color on the rug are like shapes, with each color fading into the one next to it. When you look closely at a piece of color, you see that the color is itself also made of patterns of colors fading into each other.
If you look even closer, you discover that at the very smallest scale, points of color randomly dot the rug without fading into each other in the way that colors do at larger scales.
The rug is so large that every possible combination of color exists somewhere on it. Everything that exists or could exist is just a smudge of color.
In fact, another way to understand the rug is that it is a display of every possible combination of colored shapes. If a shape cannot be found anywhere on the rug, the combination of colors is not possible.
The subtle rules about which colors can exist next to any given color on the rug are what determine the structure of all the shapes of color on the rug.
Here the important point is that every pattern of color on the rug always exists. The rug has no beginning and no end. The rug never changes. The rug is the totality of all that is possible, excluding the totality of all that is impossible. Everything that has happened or will ever happen is on the rug, always.
Now, if you are an ant on this rug, you will have certain limitations. Your view of the rug is limited to only a small section of it. While nothing prevents an ant like you from taking any path you please on the rug, at each point some directions are more likely than others.
Some directions are so unlikely that you would almost never take them. For example, the likelihood of going directly backward is closer to zero than you can imagine. Time does not unfold in reverse, even if in principle it could.
Your ant-path never passes over the same point on the rug twice, and at least one of your little ant-legs is always firmly planted on the rug: You never leap from region to region.
The trail that every ant draws across the rug reveals how probabilities are configured. There is no reason or cause for one direction to be more probable than another, just as there is no reason or cause for what is possible on the rug. It all just is, just as it is.
Although you as an ant are aware of the region surrounding you, the focus of your consciousness is a single point of the ant-path, which is too limited to include the entire ant-path.
That single point creates the sense of flowing nowness. The here-now point only knows itself, but all here-now points exist on the rug, just as all possibilities exist. Perhaps there are countless ant-versions of you, each tracing a slightly different thread of possibility across the rug.
Time and consciousness are figments of each other. Consciousness is the choice of a single path. Time is a single chosen path. Without consciousness, time is the rug itself, a vast field of possibilities that exist always.
In fact, the tale is even stranger. There is no ant, only a trail, and the trail itself has no substance; it is just an imaginary curve cutting across the rug, a possible way of seeing how one place on the rug connects with another.
Michael Webb, April, 2005
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