What You Do Not Know

Look closely: focus on the space in between
the instant passed, that moment
just a moment ago,
that we somehow thought was real,
and the instant upon us,
that we somehow think will really come —
what is that between the two?

Look closer and that space, too, seems made up
of many tinier moments, past or yet to come,
so that you have to gaze even more closely
looking for the still point we’re sure we know
lies just after one and just before another.

But it, too, is just, on closer examination,
an infinite line,
and the more you look,
it doesn’t even quite seem a continuous one —
how do you know
that moment ‘followed’ this,
or ‘preceded’ another?

Go all the way down the rabbit hole
and, up very close,
it’s seen that there are no moments,
not even the grand imaginary Now,
the only moment
we must believe in —
all there is
is that lonely space in between.

How could we be so deluded?
What magic trick is this, and who’s behind it?

Now — turn your careful gaze to this leaf,
and to the tiny aphid
crawling across it. Put your strongest lens on it
and suddenly it isn’t an aphid,
it isn’t any ‘thing’,
but rather an array of quarks and gluons,
in an unfathomable pattern
comprised mostly of nothing at all.

Look closer still,
and the quarks have disappeared
and in their place are some things tinier still,
each still
with the illusion of solidity,
of being substantial, until
you magnify by another order of magnitude
and then they’re gone too.

Now you search in vain,
because there was something tiny there
one turn of the lens ago,
but now you can see nothing —
all there is
is that forsaken space in between.

Another trick! —
surely we just aren’t looking right,
we haven’t got the right point of view,
the right tools
to see the solid end
to this fathomless mystery.

This is not fair! We’re being tricked
and not told what the trick is, the answer
that makes sense of it all — aha!


Yet there is something inside us,
or somewhere,
whispering to us
that it is no trick,
that it doesn’t make sense,
that it doesn’t have to make sense,
and that in fact there are only appearances,
nothing ‘real’ at all.

There are only figments of reality,
sleights of mind.
No matter!

But this is not acceptable —
if there is no real time, or space,
or thing, then how, who…?
Look out! Think like that
and you might disappear.

And then what?

Well, then everything.


image of aphid from USFDA via Wikipedia, public domain

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2 Responses to What You Do Not Know

  1. Euan says:

    Love it. The challenge is remembering this when the world seems all too real.

  2. James Clark says:

    Hey Dave – You ever listen to the “Hillbilly Sutra” of Mike Snider…? If you haven’t you should… you would really enjoy this guy, seriously. Hope you take a listen… Jesse

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