Living in the Flow of Time

The present is ever displaced by the future. It slips into the past, displaced by this never ending flow. We call it time or change, but regardless of what we call it, we cannot avoid that endless flowing.We are often told to be present, that the present is all we have, and while this is true in the sense that it is always now, it is always here, what “living in the present” means is not so clear cut.  The present is ever slipping away from us. It is a moving target, and it is much more difficult to hit a moving target than a stationary one. How do we “live” effectively and skillfully in this endless flow. this “reality” that is ever slipping away from us?

If you take any given flowing present moment of our lives,  what we see and feel and experience depends on what’s there, but much more on how we focus on what’s there. To focus is to select some aspect, some portion of this flowing present and in that selecting we set up what we will notice and how we will interact.  If  you select “blue” and look around you right now, you will notice all the blue things in your present environment. If you select “red” and do the same scan, you will notice a whole different set of things. Try it right now. The “same  present” but seen differently through a different focus.

We thus end up in a “present” according to what we select, and we “select” from among all the possibilities according to our interests. Our  interests emerge from our desires and needs, and from the countless ways the world imposes itself on us as we live out our lives.  The process looks something like this. We have a desire or a need. These impulses emerge from our history and that energy, that tension  leads us to make an assessment of how they might be fulfilled. We deliberate on the possibilities. Deliberating leads to a decision, to selecting one possibility from among the many options. Our decision moves us to the relevant and appropriate action.  Our action shifts and moves something in our world, in our present, and that change, that becoming leads to a result. There is no action without a consequence. If the result satisfies the need or desire, we move on to the next “present,” so to speak. If not, we either give up or try again. Thus do we live out our lives, ever flowing. So if you would live in the present, you have to sustain an awareness of your needs and desires.They source our choices and actions.

There is however, a further catch. What you think is possible depends on the scope and range of your beliefs. The narrower your beliefs, the fewer the possibilities that you see.  How do we expand our sense of what is possible?  There are a variety of ways,  but they all come down to moving outside our comfort zones.  That is how we break through our limits. How we do that is for another blog.


About The Practical Philosopher

I am a retired Philosophy professor. I taught philosophy for 43 years, and I would like to share some of what I have found pursuing the fascinating journey of philosophy.
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3 Responses to Living in the Flow of Time

  1. Rich Petrino says:

    Hi Bill… loved your post. Looked around me and didn’t see much blue but the reds were all over the place 🙂 Thanks for your wisdom. Rich

  2. Anne Ronan says:

    Hi Dr. Kiernan. I was in your class back in 1979-80, I think. I was so touched then and now by your searching inquiries into life’s mysteries and calls. I’m still trying to respond with the best sensitivity, intelligence and energy I can muster, so I’ll be reading your blog. Love, Anne Ronan

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