Temporal Existentialism and Cake


People say to live in the moment.  Don’t look ahead, don’t look behind, just live for now… because you never know when a sandwich truck is going to come out of nowhere and flatten you.

They don’t usually add that last part, but I think we all agree that’s their point.  What’s the point of planning ahead if there’s no ahead to plan for?  And what’s the point of looking behind if you can’t change anything about it?  Furthermore, what’s the point of looking both behind and ahead in order to use your present to your greatest advantage?  That’s just overachieving.

See, looking ahead is silly if you spend too much time at it.  You can’t possibly predict every sandwich truck that comes around that corner.  It’s better to leave things flexible so you can spend a few minutes dodging the sandwich trucks on your way to that important meeting you scheduled.  If you had a strict morning lineup, you’d be dead by now.

The same works for the past.  Looking behind is silly because if you spend too much time at it, you can’t see where you’re going and that sandwich truck takes you out anyway.  You can’t change anything you’ve lived through, only your attitude about it.

Still, people try to schedule things, and people celebrate things that happened in the past.  I don’t know why they do it, but it just happens.

Think about how silly it all is.  Scheduling something is like trying to hit a target posted on a bullet train from another bullet train going the opposite direction… and you’re shooting a rubber band.  The “moment” you’re aiming for is only there for, well, a moment, and the preparation required to make it all work is far too complicated and uncertain.  It’s better just to be vague about when you’re going to do something, because chances are you won’t be ready for it when the time comes.

Looking behind is no different.  Basically, anniversaries are celebrations of moments that passed when we were at the same point in the Earth’s orbit around the sun… which is pretty silly considering the sun is also orbiting the center of the Milky Way and the earth wasn’t really in the same place anyway.  Supposedly, it’s a great achievement that we’ve survived until the same square on the calendar.  It doesn’t make sense.

You know how mathematics defines a line segment as a succession of points directly between two other points?  Points have no dimension, however– no depth, height, or length.  The line gains length, but only because it has so many points stuck together.  Time is exactly the same.  All these dimensionless moments, smaller than the smallest fraction of a second, are stuck together into what we call minutes, hours, weeks, months, years, centuries.  If you think about it, celebrating a birthday is like congratulating a line for sticking it out for the entire distance from one point to another.  Yes, it’s an achievement, but it’s a pretty silly one.

So what does an anniversary mean?  Congratulations, you survived an entire circle on a waterlogged rock hurtling through a vacuum as it spins around the sun.  It sounds like a Survivor season.  Survivor, Planet Earth.  Seven billion people are stranded on a rock whirling around a giant ball of gas.  Who will last?  Fridays at 8/7c.

All that to say this: we’re here at this very moment to celebrate the negligible accomplishment of this blog having survived two such cycles of the Earth.

Happy birthday, blog!  I’m so happy to have managed two years of this.  It’s amazing what I’ve learned, and who I’ve learned it from– I love doing this.  I hope I can continue for many more years, though I won’t think too much about it or I’ll degenerate into temporal existential depression again.  Thank you all for reading, and I hope I’m not just providing welcome procrastination.

Have some cake.


121 thoughts on “Temporal Existentialism and Cake

  1. Thank you for the cake. I’m glad to have found this blog roughly one of those cycles ago.

    Though, coming from the point of view of a lady who has been in existence for 22 cycles… you forgot the boiled eggs, Head Phil.

    Anyway, many more entire circles on a waterlogged rock hurtling through a vacuum as it spins around the sun to your blog.

      1. *clicks tongue* You underestimate me. I would never make promises to a beastie that destroys ships… except that one time I promised him dinner… but that’s already been taken care of and fulfilled.


    *gets flattened by a sandwich truck*

    Ouch. I’m just going to sit here all flattened and wish you a congratulations for being an awesome blogger celebrating another anniversary even while I don’t think I can feel my arms anymore. Congrats! Excuse me as I go find a doctor.

      1. You would think people would consider that fact a little bit more. The tires aren’t really all that nice to be squashed by either. They should really invest in some bubble wrap. At least then it would be entertaining.

      2. Well, mine is so ferocious it requires a complicated ritual to get him still enough to clean his toenails, let alone keep him captive. We usually let him wander around the mountains to the north among his kind. He comes when I call. Very loudly. So really, with crushed lungs, it’s difficult for me to summon him.

      3. If your speakers aren’t very good, then no. Don’t get the cheap ones from the bumbling salesman in a rural countryside. Those lasted me maybe five minutes, tops.

      4. I have a bad short term memory. I forgot that bumbling salesmen in the rural countryside aren’t reliable places to get things from.

        Also, I finished Fearless . Huzzah and all that. I really did like it, and you’re right that it’s actually a very dark book compared to her other ones. I assume there’s a third book coming to make it a trilogy?

      5. I can’t see her leaving it as a duology with Jacob and Fox hanging out in the real world in a foreign country. There’s that man with the business card left to take care of too . . .

  3. Is the sandwich truck a metaphor for life? I think it is.

    And congratulations! If your blog was a human, it would be a freakishly intelligent toddler with a great sense of humor.

    1. That sandwich truck is absolutely a metaphor for life. With extra lettuce.

      That’s a really good description of it. I’m glad you came up with it, because if I did it would just be conceit.

  4. Happy Birthday, Liam’s blog!!!

    Thanks to this, I’m never going to think the same about birthdays, death anniversary dates, celebrations and such the same way ever again, LOL. I really enjoyed this post! This helped me think about a lot of things I’ve been struggling with so much this past year in a more pleasant light. I agree with looking behind. There’s no way (well, minus a teleporting machine) to change anything in the past.
    The future scares me a bit–I mean, anything can happen in the future and we don’t have any way to predict it! Everyone’s suddenly asking me, “What are you going to do in college?”, and I don’t really know. Sure, I can really think about it, and I did at first, but what’s the point of really thinking future things–like college, jobs, future itself, etc,–when you can figure it out when you finally get to that point in life? Still, the thought that I’ll be finishing 12th grade a few years from now and then going to college is rather frightening. Ah, well.
    Then again, aren’t we almost living in the future? Each moment we live is replaced by something that wasn’t there a moment before, which in turn is replaced by a new moment…..I dunno.

    Amyway…May your blog survive many, many more cycles around the water-logged rock! 😀

  5. (To your previous comment, Liam–Evil computer strikes again)

    It’s more of a good thing, I think. I find it interesting to ponder about on rainy days.

    1. That’s another thing– we have water floating in the sky which falls to join the water swimming on the ground. All of this is going around a big rock hurtling through space… has no one ever questioned this? This place is weird!

      But, if you think about it, it’s absolutely perfect. There’s no other way for life to exist.

      1. Exactly! Oh, and we just happen to have this neighboring desolate rock which is bound to our waterlogged rock and spins around ever twenty four hours and causes the water on our rock to form things we call tides!
        Boy, there’s a lot to think about if you poke around enough. XD But yes, it is perfect. 🙂

      2. Far too perfect…

        Now think about history and institutions we have today. For instance, the postal service. At one point in time, people delivered their own messages. When they couldn’t, they asked a friend or just a random traveler to deliver it for them for free. Then some greedy person decided to charge for it and suddenly we have a government institution devoted to it. Why?

  6. Congratulations on two (and a bit) meaningless cycles — and congratulations especially on being so consistent. It’s not an achievement to have had a blog that long, but it is certainly an achievement to be regularly posting good quality stuff for that long. May your blog continue to dodge the sandwich truck for many more cycles.

  7. Wait a minute, if you look around, won’t you be able to see the sandwich truck and just, y’know, not cross the street? They say look to the left and right, but I’m pretty sure ahead and behind are important, too… Sorry, I only read the first paragraph of this post.

      1. Well, you can take it as such. Occasionally things can be taken both ways, and I’m hardly the most qualified person to interpret it. …Oh, wait. I wrote it, so I am. Never mind.

      2. *snorts*

        I’m not sure I’d want to live to 300 anyway. By that point, I’d be so paranoid about the sandwich truck coming for revenge, I’d forget about the ice cream truck…

      3. Or…all of the rest of the various trucks in the world.

        Maybe I need to look diagonal as well as left, right, ahead, and behind… Hmm, are there any other directions you can look?

      4. Yeah, that one can be pretty nasty.

        I almost got ran over by a ice-cream truck and dump truck at the same time the other day. Luckily, they were both Lego and didn’t crush me…

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