Now, Yesterday, Tomorrow – A Contemplative Process on the InterConnected Web of Time and Life

I’ve held off writing this particular post, because its based on some of the thematics found in the movie “Cloud Atlas”.  I just didn’t want to ruin the movie too much for anyone.  However, I have found myself seeing a deeper and deeper need to write this particular piece – and I can no longer hold myself back.

One of the primary thematics of the movie is how each choice we make in this life is tied to a particular choice further down the line in time.  That each choice we make – each decision we’re presented with – each action we take – causes a ripple through time – and a has a causal effect on others.  That time frame could be a few minutes from now, a few hours, a few days, a few months, a few years….a whole lot of years.  We may never see the effect of our choices, decisions and actions…we possibly could see those effects in our lifetime.  We never really know, until that ripple collides with that moment.

This is an odd headspace for me to be in.  When I think of time – I envision pop culture concepts, such as HG Welle’s “The Time Machine” or “Doctor Who” – I don’t see myself as part of all that.  And yet, after watching the movie “Cloud Atlas” I found myself thinking to my immediate past and the choices I’ve made – and how each choice has effected some part of my life (and the lives of others) a little further down the time-line.  And then I think of the choices I’ve made that haven’t manifested themselves yet (to my knowledge).  Where will the choices come down the line?  Once I start contemplating how my choices have turned into those ripples of effect – I begin looking at my current choices…and trying to see how those choices could have an effect.

I’ve made no secret about my desire to leave the state of Texas – nor of my desire to move to a more mountainous area of the United States.  Over the past year, I’ve applied to job position after job postion – attempting to find a way to move myself a little more northward and a little more westward. And then I start to think of what such a move could mean.  Certainly it would be an exciting adventure.  A new area to explore.  New experiences to soak in.  But then I would also create a “Tommy-sized hole” in the lives of friends I have here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Accepting a job would change my life – and theirs (to some degree as well).  Seeing this…caution begins to creep into my mind.  Perhaps I shouldn’t do this…what if I would be removing something important in my life, which changes everything in an adverse way?  But now I’m getting into the effects of what I want to focus on — thus digressing from the topic (as I am prone to do).

Back to these ripples through time. Surely, outside of the man-made concept of time (you’re never going to convince me that the dinosaurs had a need for a sundial or a Sport Illustrated swimsuit calendar), there’s got to be something that connects us throughout the ages.  Its definitely not politics…one look through history shows that wide, completely unintegrated environment.  Wars/Peace.  Now here’s something that has the potential to pull us together along a cosmic string.  Perhaps its those baser instincts…that animal drive that creates our violent tendencies, along with our protective and nurturing instincts??  Could this be the twine of the cosmos??  Its possible.  One could look at the positioning of decision-making in similar perspectives…a “war” of choice that results in “peace” once the decision is made.  But then…what of the pacifists of the mind?  The individuals that don’t make a choice and just let life happen around them?  According to the song “Free Will” by the progressive rock band (I hate that term, by the way) Rush – “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”.  While I can see this as a possible string through the tides of time, I’m not so certain this is what I am trying to locate to understand the ripple of choices.  Though it does provide some merit to the entire concept.

But wait!  Rush!  No not the oxycotin-addicted blabbermouth…the band!!  What about music!!?  Thinking through the movie’s premise – there’s a piece of music that floats throughout every single segment…composed by one of the characters, sought out by another character, and part of the ambient noise at a working location for a third character….could it be music that provides some of the conduit I am seeking here?  Quite possibly.  Consider this…we all listen to some type of music.  Its important enough in our lives, that we have music playback devices in our cars, our smart-phones…many people have even utilized their computers as jukeboxes (of sort) to play music while they work on documents, spreadsheets, Emails and the such.  Even our video games are full of music.  In movies and TV shows, certain types and styles of music are utilized as ambient noise to convey a particular feeling or emotion. That emotional aspect of music even transcends time.  There are several pieces of Mozart that will bring me near to tears just listening to them.  In Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” – I find myself experiencing the conflicted emotions of the Phantom while he endures the torturous event of watching Christine Daae and Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny profess their love for one another.  Its not just the singing or the lyrics that portray the emotions of the Phantom, its the music that backs his grief, as it turns to anger and then rage.  For me, its a highly-charged emotional moment that can pick you up and sweep you along with its tide.  And in thinking this through – I do believe that music is the stronger tie.

if I may digress just slightly again.  Music, much like other forms of art, brings a time period to life.  Take for example, the Punk movement of the late 1970s.  The lyrics were aggressive…painted against an anger and angst that was the backdrop from the anti-government sentiment of the 1960s.  The lyrical content overtly displays the emotions of a younger generation that was experiencing a higher percentage of unemployment. The aggressive music conveyed an outlet for that angst and anger – and provides the appropriate background for understanding a rather tumultuous period in our recent past.  Music is, in my opinion, the conduit for bringing history to life.  From that period of time, the music lives on – as does music of other generations and time periods – allowing its ripples to be felt, heard and (to a lesser extent) experienced.

We cast ripples in time with choices.  We paint the backdrop of our societal positioning through our music and art.  Some of those ripples are felt through the connective conduit of our more primal, baser understandings.  Others are felt – to a slightly lesser extent – through the creative output of previous (and current) generations.  Those ripples, along with the connective understanding of materials and concepts through our primal nature, are what connect us here in the Now with those in the Yesterday and to those in the Tomorrow.  We can look back and see how we are connected to the Yesterday.  To understand our connections to the Tomorrow – we have to live it.  And we cannot be handcuffed in our decision-making process by trying to figure out how the decisions of Now will play out in the story of Tomorrow.  We have to make the decisions based on what’s best for us here in the Now.  If we do anything else…we are denying who and what we are – and thus refusing to Live.  And I shudder to think what consequences a choice like that could potentially have.

/|\ TommyElf
Just my opinion….


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