The trident

A way below Elon Musk’s tweet about the inspiration for his philosophy was this:

“The future is a set of branching probability streams. Some actions by humanity have an extremely leveraged effect on shape & size of those streams.”

Reading these words brought to mind a diagram I’ve called “The Trident”. It’s a representation of my thinking about the notions of past, present and future.

trident of time

In words:

The past is immutable, the present is momentary, and the future is negotiable.

Of course, although the past itself is immutable, our perception of it is most definitely not. As Nassim Taleb recently quipped in a conversation with Tyler Cowen:

“So I read a lot of stuff. And I think that I would recommend doing the same. Read as much as you can, and try to get the lowest possible passing grades you can at school. Don’t study stuff like history because it’s going to be revised.”

There’s not much I have to say about the idea of the present, except that the attempt to inhabit it is both worthy and naive. From my readings on mindfulness and philosophy, and my own experiments at implementing what I’ve read, it’s apparent that embedding oneself in the present is an impossibility. As soon as you realise you’re living in the present, you’re already in the past.

And the future? It’s helped my understanding and insight to ask, “What’s possible?” instead of “What’s going to happen?” Once I began to think in terms of possible realities instead of a single future reality, it altered my thoughts across the spectrum of time—I began to see the past, the present and the future in a multi-dimensional way. Words like “multiverse” and “timelines” have seeped in and made irreversible alterations to the organisation of my brain matter.