Travelling back in time with the mind. The past. Death. The beach…

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In one important way, we are capable of traveling back in time. Through memory, we can return to childhood, go back to the moment we first fell in love or recall our first professional triumph.

Vivid memories that call to mind an experience in deep sensory detail can seem to transport us back to another time and place. When we recall the particular bit of information we’re looking for, we also recall many other surrounding details — how we felt, what we were wearing, what came before and afterwards.

New research from neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University sheds light on how the brain performs this remarkable function. According to the researchers, if a person studies a list of items, and then searches their memory to try to report back those items in order, they’ll often report a cluster of things that happened right around the moment of remembering that item, suggesting that their brain has mentally travelled back to that moment. (1)

What is in the past has not passed.

What is in the past is still there.

You can go back there any time.

Because there is no time.

We say this is a trick of the memories. But how can memories be stored we know not. (2, 3) We say this is a trick of the brain, but what does exist without a brain to perceive it? Can time exist without is thinking about it? And if we think about the past, doesn’t that mean that the past still exists somewhere somehow? Does it matter where? Does it matter how?

At the end, we feel the answer. But we dare not accept it. It is far more convenient to believe that everything passes. It is far too convenient to believe in death. Close your eyes and see. Yourself at the beach. Playing. Young. Smiling. As you will always be…

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