I went for a short walk this afternoon. About halfway through, near the playground my daughter likes to play at, I was hailed by a youngish man. He was a stranger to me, and dressed raggedly, carrying a large, dirty backpack. I’d seen him before, shouting to the sky and generally not fitting in with the prevailing affluent family landscape. I’d quietly admired him, and was secretly a little afraid of him.
This actually happened today.
Today, he said hello. Actually, what he said was “Hey, can I ask you a question?”
I said “Of course.”
“Are the past, present and future different moments or are they the same?”
This felt like a completely normal question to be asked on the sidewalk by a stranger, so I replied “Same moments. All the same moment, one moment eternally.”
“Ok. But you see, only by acknowledging the past, present and future as moments, can you control them. So until you acknowledge the past, you can’t control it and therefore can’t change it. The future too.”
Quite naturally, I responded “Definitely. Yes. But they’re only ideas. The past, present and future are only ideas. Once you see that, they’re easy to control.”
“Then you can see how I am controlling all of this right now” he replied, unfazed.
Of course, he was right, after a fashion, but I didn’t want to feed separation’s delusions of grandeur.
“Yes, certainly you are. Just like everyone else.”
He smiled. “Yes. Just like everyone else. You get it.”
I nodded, winked, and continued my walk as he turned away. It all felt like the most natural exchange in the world. I’m pretty sure I made a friend today. I’m still a little afraid of him, though.