I’ve been having an on and off debate with my friends about whether or not time is real. This is your chance to keep scrolling, I’m giving you an out.
Naturally, I’m defending the fact that it’s completely made up, time is in fact, not real. I believe it’s like math; the numbers themselves don’t exist but they’re a language we invented to explain the naturally occurring phenomena around us. You with me so far? Good.
Let’s start with the obvious everyone always brings up: time is relative. It moves faster when you’re having fun, slower when you are not. The fact that Arizona has opted out of Daylight Times Savings proves it’s super fake, and the fact that there is no “true time” across the globe proves it’s all relative anyways. Time is fully based on our position around the sun, position in the Milky Way, and the speed at which the earth rotates.
Also interesting to note is the saccadic moment. Have you ever noticed that when you look at the second hand of an analog clock it always lingers before moving? That’s because your brain is replacing the blur of looking between objects with the image of the second object. It’s why you don’t notice the blur when looking back and forth quickly. Your brain erased it. In fact, your brain erases up to 11 minutes a day of these moments which really makes you wonder what it’s hiding in the in-between. We don’t perceive we are losing time but we are.
But enough of that, George Washington exists right now and we are the same as him.
Again let’s start with the obvious: you can’t go a day without seeing his face. Whether it’s in the form of a dollar bill, a well placed statue, or occultist paraphernalia, America’s first gay president is constantly around. Do you remember the day you learned that he was the first president? No you don’t. It’s so embedded in our brains that its origins are practically indistinguishable from anything we’ve ever learned. We were born knowing about George.
I can hear everyone telling me, “But he died 223 years ago, Wendy. You’re being silly.” Am I?
Is there a difference to you personally between how long ago Alexander the Great died and how long ago George Washington died? No. None of you were alive (I presume). In the time that generations were combining over the course of millennia to form your family, you weren’t around. As far as you know, the world began the year you were born. Both of these deaths happened before you were born, so the years between them are inconsequential to you since you didn’t experience them (I presume). They only began existing to you the moment you learned about them.
Let’s think of this another way, trigger warning: Lin Manuel Miranda. Let’s pretend it’s 1776 and we’re crossing the Delaware with George. We’re freezing to death in the little boat and we look over to see an artist in a second boat painting the scene. George is posing for the painting, he’s been still for 20 minutes so as not to blur the image. In that moment it hits you: this is going to be a famous painting, studied for centuries after the war is done. History has its eyes on you, you can almost feel them now. Millions of slimy eyeballs touch your body, looking at every color, every drop of water, and every face. The soldiers next to you will someday look at the painting and remember this moment, bringing it back to life with their stories and memories.
This moment never dies because we refuse to let it. If George hadn’t crossed the Delaware, the painting wouldn’t exist, if he had done anything different, we would have gotten a different story. The fact that this story persists means that in the moment George poses on the boat, generations of Americans are watching him with their future eyeballs. He is here and there at the same time. The second he stepped foot on that boat, we were already reading about it in our textbooks. You learning about it and you reading about it for the first time are the same.
Now stay with me because I’m bringing in the big guns. Vegetarians, don’t leave. I promise I have a good explanation for this next part. The aptly named sausage theory is a way of understanding the fourth dimension. Basically, think of it like a time lapse. If you were to take a time lapse photo of you walking across the room, you’d look like a blurry sausage. Now think of history like this. You are connected to every past version of yourself and every future version of yourself through this time lapse. More than that, you are also connected in the same way to your parents, to your grandparents, and so on and so forth to the beginning of the human race.
It even goes even beyond that. You are connected through timelapse to every person you have ever come in contact with, and by default to every person they’ve come in contact with. The time lapse sausage keeps exponentially growing when you add in location and consider how far forward and back human history goes. We all have our own sausage inside the large human timelapse sausage.
This is how we’re directly connected to George Washington.
Einstein theorized that the fourth dimension is time, and we cannot see the fourth dimension because we are three dimensional beings. This is just like how a fourth dimensional being wouldn’t be able to perceive the fifth dimension because they don’t exist in it, but would be able to see time. It’s exactly like Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. A two dimensional triangle on a sheet of paper will never be able to look up and see us above it because “up” doesn’t exist in two dimensions.
So a fourth dimensional being would be able to perceive the time lapse sausage and many more like it. To them, we are one unit of sausage, one within the fourth dimension. We are one with George Washington who we are actively attached to. One object made up of all the instances of ourselves, past, present, and future.
And this is how George Washington is out there and we are all him through the imperceivable fourth dimension.
Obviously there is more nuance than this. Since I’m not a quantum physicist or astrophysicist, I do not understand the math, but here is a good resource if you’d like to know more about the Block Universe. Time is fake and we are being watched by fourth dimensional beings (probably) who will know more than we ever will. Don’t be a naysayer, fight back against the endless and inevitable march of time. I’ll be here if you want to join forces. George too.