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All Things, All at Once

Einstein was right. The distinction between past, present, and future is merely an illusion. Materialism gives the impression of linear progression; in truth, everything happens at once. As I type this sentence, I am also being born. And as I’m being born, I also die. It’s a strange way of looking at things only because our brains are trained (accustomed) to processing things linearly. But the math of the multiverse seems to suggest that the past is here with us now; it’s just cycling more quickly than we are. And the future is here with us, too; it’s just cycling more slowly.

There are two ways to try to understand this better. The first is a story; the second is an image.

The story is about, fittingly enough, the mechanics of storytelling. Many writers know what it’s like to work on something while holding the beginning, the middle, and the end all in your consciousness at once. As we write the first sentence, the final sentence is suggesting itself. In fact, we might say that the final sentence helps to prompt the first sentence. Between the poles of the first and final sentences are all the branching paths a character could take to get to that last moment. To the character, the arrow of causality appears to flow in only one direction. But to the author, the final sentence influences the middle every bit as much as the first sentence does.

Or, this: Picture a wheel. When we say “the wheel spins,” we mean the whole wheel spins uniformly. But, in a sense, the circumference of the wheel closest to the center completes its circuit much more swiftly than the wheel’s outermost circumference. If we think of the past as the inner circumferences (dimensions) of time and the future as its outer circumferences (dimensions), then we can begin to better understand the idea of staggered simultaneity and time dilation.