The hustle of shopping, hosting, traveling and party going can make it easy to lose sight of what is truly important during the winter season of holidays. This is the burden of “accelerated time,” the model of time believed to be in play among Western and Western-influenced people. In celebration of this time of year, each other, and the anticipation of “quantum time”—a working name for the next model of time projected by some futurists—I present this group thought experience for you and yours to enjoy together as you reunite for the holidays. So print this out, or read it off your mobile device, and try it with your friends and family.
Quantum, a futurespace thought experience:
After you have gained the attention of the group, say the following:
“To celebrate today, I would like us to have a thought experience together. It will only take a few minutes. If you’d like to participate, please close your eyes and follow my instructions.
Imagine you are small, the smallest you can be. You may find it easiest to imagine you are a ping pong ball, floating in space.
Take a minute to reflect upon how you got here, to this gathering. The sequence of activities, the efforts you made, the space you traversed over time, the routes you may have taken… I want you to imagine all of this as a single vaporous trail, flowing behind you—you as a ping pong ball.
Add to that vaporous trail another trail—one that depicts how you thought you would arrive here, a path you could have taken—perhaps your ideal plan that was disrupted by actual events. Now add to this second path a few additional trails depicting a few of the many possibilities of how this morning, yesterday night, earlier this week might have happened differently.
Extend all of these wispy trails backward to last month, last year, last decade, your childhood. Stretch further and imagine where they lead before you were born, before your parents were born, before their parents. Think of the people who came before all of the family you know and how they affected the possible trails that lead through time and space to you being here now.
Think of the human civilizations that rose and fell, like waves upon a beach, and the trails you imagine those societies took, the trails they could have taken, and how they affect you now.
Take a moment to dwell upon the vast plurality of all of these possible pasts and think of all of the possible nows that could have come to be had anything been different.
Now, come back to you as a ping pong ball.
Look forward, in front of you—you as a ping pong ball. Explore this space-time you will soon move through. What may happen next? Who do you plan to talk to after this thought experience? Where will you go when you leave this gathering? What will you do when you get there? What are you looking forward in the coming weeks? Months? Years? What future are you working toward and what do you hope it looks like when it becomes real? Imagine these answers as vaporous trails going into the future, gently drawing possible paths forward.
Add to that future trail another trail, maybe one filled with a surprise or two. A surprise you don’t expect to happen, but something that could. Think of all of the possible futures you might experience or witness in the coming year. Extend those trails further—into the years beyond, the next decade, your next life stage—whatever it may be, the vast expanse of time after us.
Look backward, see the many possible pasts and the one path that led you here today. Look forward, see the many possible futures, all unknowable and totally potential.
Now, open your eyes and look around this room. Look into the eyes of each individual here. Imagine the ping pong ball with past and future trails each person has imagined during this thought experience.
Reflect upon the intersection of possible pasts and possible futures—the slim margin of possibility that it has led us all into being, into this room, together.
Now say out loud, ‘I am grateful we are here.’”
That’s it! Please try this with your friends and family and tell me how it goes in the comments. Happy holidays!