Time – Growing Up

Lately people from my high school have been finding me and adding me via myspace or facebook. If I remember having a conversation with the person I’ll usually accept their friend request.

I get some requests though that are from people I can’t remember ever even meeting.

This makes me wonder, do they remember me? Did I make some impression on their memory that they failed to make on mine?

What’s more likely is that they’re just adding everyone from their graduating class. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder.

I got started on thinking about time a lot. Time is a very funny thing. You don’t realize it has passed until a large chunk has gone by. It’s like watching the sun rise in the sky. Once the sun breaks free of the horizon you lose your reference point and the sun seems to stand still. You can look back at noon, then again closer to sunset and see that the time has passed, but there is no particular point when you recall it happening.

Growing up has been like that. You just wake up one morning and realize you’ve done it. There was no point when someone rang a bell or handed you a degree that marked your “growing up,” but slowly it happened. After so much time passes you realize that school is a distant memory. Something that happened to another person in another life.

The person it happened to isn’t even you anymore.

Certainly you have shared experiences with that person, but because of those experiences you’re different. You can never go back to what was, and what you were. There was a fork in the road and you diverged. But there was no fork, no immediately recollected divergence. Just a slow drift as that person in the past fades away.

What’s even more interesting is the people you knew back in that past…. they remember the person you were. Your past self has a life of its own in the memories of those who knew you then.

This must be what makes it so interesting to see people at a highschool reunion. There is so much reconciliation to be done between the memories of people, and the actual person.

Just by walking into the room you are causing massive energy expenditure in the brains of everyone who is quickly trying to integrate this new you with the old you.

I know I’ve had to do that before. When people change it just blows my mind.

I will never forget a kid from my kindergarten class. He was scrawny, allergic to everything, and had thick glasses. I remember him in that way from kindergarten until maybe 5th grade. I went back to visit that town in college. It nearly destroyed my brain to meet the guy he turned into. Beer drinking, big dude. Seemed like a pretty rough guy. There was absolutely no way I could have connected these two people together. No series of events plays out in my mind to connect my past image of him with his current image. I cannot see how it would have happened.

I wonder how many minds I inhabit right now. I wonder if I could find a way to tease out each one of those snapshot and then compare them somehow. It would be fascinating.

I also started thinking about home as an abstract concept. That old quote “You can never go home again” is so true. I could go back to New York, but it wouldn’t be home. It hasn’t been home for a long time.

It makes me wonder what the time limit is on that. How long can you be in a new place with new people before you lose your old home and assume the new one? Do people assimilate homes at a different rate? I’m sure it’s a slow process. It’s just like growing up. You wake up one day and realize you’ve done it. But you did it long ago. It just took the time to realize.

What will my future self think of this present self? What things could I do to make those two people drastically diverge for the better? For the worse?

I guess I got started on all of this by reading about quantum physics in “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson. Thinking about his quantum brain theory was really interesting.

But – that’s enough for me tonight. My future self is likely to be tired in the morning.