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If Mystic

by on April 5, 2013

                                                                   If Mystic

                                                       “If I had only……………”

                                                           by Marco M. Pardi


I have long thought that the most powerful word in any language is If. No other word, standing alone, has such power to open infinity, to elevate us to imagined futures, or to plunge us into the despair of regret.  For equally as long I have thought that the most useless word in any language is If. No other word, standing alone, has such power of displacement, drawing us away from reality, falsely empowering us with capacities we never had, and paralyzing us like a diabetic at a dessert buffet.

It is certain that anyone old enough to read this has at least one story that begins with, “If I had just gotten there 1 minute……”. The focus of that anguish is most clearly on the speaker; either they were at fault for not doing so, or they were somehow fortunate for not doing so. But what of the larger picture?

Decades ago the famous science fiction writer Ray Bradbury wrote a story about a future in which mankind had developed the ability to travel into the past. Of course, since the pursuit of money seems timeless, the story was centered on a Time Tourism company.  Most people know the point of the story; a tourist steps on a butterfly millions of years in the past and the future is changed in some way. This is the “Grandfather Paradox” made famous in the Back to the Future films.

This theme appears sensible to a Western culture which traces its ontological roots from Aristotelian Reductionism through Cartesian Dualism to Newton’s purported “Clockwork Universe”. Indeed, even in confronting South Asian systems such as Hinduism these systems are morphed in Western paradigms through the utterly fallacious construct of linear cause and effect taught as “karma” in Western schools. And, despite the stupendous realizations of quantum mechanics since the 1920’s, Western culture is increasingly bowing to the religion of scientism, most particularly Neuroscience, the ultimate in the dictatorship of Materialism.

It is true that since the 1920’s the physics community has been trying to reconcile the seemingly lock-step cause and effect macro world with the new realizations of “reality” as probability in the micro world.  Apples still fall, but will a photon behave as a particle, a wave, or both? With apologies to Ed Bruce……….

Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be photons….

Photons ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold ……

And each night begins a new day….
If you don’t understand him, an’ he don’t die young,
He’ll prob’ly just ride away.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be photons……
‘Cos they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone.
Even with someone they love.
Photons like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings,
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night.
Them that don’t know him won’t like him and them that do,
Sometimes won’t know how to take him….
He ain’t wrong………… he’s just probable…………

The history of debate over “free will” is obviously lengthy, and would lead to innumerable detours and cul de sacs. Most of us are aware of the recent findings that intention can be electro-chemically identified in the brain even before it presents itself as a conscious thought in the mind. I’m less concerned with whether I mindlessly or mindfully “chose” to answer the telephone than I am with what appears to be the pattern or current into which that answered or unanswered call seems to fit.

One of my college psychology professors drew me aside and said to me, “Your mind will be your greatest blessing, and your greatest curse”.  As I listened to her I was then only beginning to become aware of what she seemed to sense; I am “blessed” with almost total recall. And yes, I have often been “my own worst enemy”,  obsessing over the “Why didn’t I” and the “Why did I” of each passing day. Now, 48 years later, I see her as clearly, remember her strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, and the light summer dress she was wearing and almost reach for the phone to tell her she was right.

Until I read Rupert Sheldrake and others I used to think of “memory banks” as decades of the Top 100, or Top Every Damned Thing stored in a 3 pound Wurlitzer. We understand now that memories are not physically stored in the brain  We can damage a portion of brain and impair the ability to recall. But that’s only like knocking the antenna off the roof and claiming the television program it was receiving no longer exists.

Einstein was famously claimed to have said, “Time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once”. It might have been more accurate had he replaced Nature with “our”; we sort experience into various iterations of the past, we casually remark on the present (which Heisenberg told us we cannot simultaneously capture and describe and which is therefore becoming past as we sense it as present), and we relegate that which is not yet to the future, giving to this not a sense of being, a place to stay until we are ready for it, making what is not into what is – just not yet.  We draw lines which make reality for us, give us order, reassure us where to sit – until we are ready. Somehow, I was never one to “stay within the lines”.

As a pre-teen I knew I would live in North Africa one day, somehow connected with the French Foreign Legion.  As an early teen I saw, driving by, the impossibly expensive English sports car I knew I would own one day. And I knew I would be the single parent of one child. As a late teen, living in North Africa, I knew I would be an eccentric Anthropology professor in a small college one day. And I knew I would “work for the government” one day. I knew of other places I would go, other things I would do. As if my Wurlitzer was intending me to know before I formed the conscious thought, or even had a basic scheme of how to bring these things into being. 

But my Wurlitzer also plays interconnected themes in ways which defy my ability to say, “I planned”. I have somehow come out the other side of many situations that by all external accounts should have finished me, should have kicked the plug from the wall. Obsessive recall later shows me the connected steps, steps which I can now look “back at” and wonder why I ever took them at all.  Everything fell into place. But that everything was seemingly far larger than anything I could have mapped out on a 5 year plan – which I never had any patience for anyway.

One day at a time is not, for me, a 24 hour cycle; one day is at once a manifestation of the seeds sown in other days, days which do not fit within the lines of Past, Present, and Future.

I am. Yes, I can see me. I can verify that. But far more than that, I AM. There is no place for If. If is for that which is not. I AM.

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  1. Thank you for another profound and thought provoking article. I especially loved the rearranged version of “Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”. I am sure it is just me, but I have this thing about “that”. I once had a blog titled “I Hate That”, where I discussed books where “that” became so distracting I couldn’t read the book. My little OCD. I hope you don’t take offense to my quirk, but I have highlighted those that’s I think take away from the writing. There was also a comma and a period I thought needed, I put in red.

    If I just wasn’t so….., nevermind.


  2. Thank you, Mary. Your analyses are always invaluable. You have cautioned me before about “that”, and I let myself slip back into it. Too much time ruminating, I guess. Thank you. Marco


  3. Dana permalink

    Marco, I am interested in knowing more about this: “Most of us are aware of the recent findings that intention can be electro-chemically identified in the brain even before it presents itself as a conscious thought in the mind.” I am one of those people who was unaware of this until you wrote it. And, I’m also interested in hearing more of your thoughts about patterns and currents in which our lives may be involved.

    These are all likely topics for another blog, but all of this does make me wonder why I sometimes make the choices I do (and not those so-called “bad” ones).


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