all on the same timeline

An interesting concept was introduced to me a week or so ago.

Some languages are what one would refer to as “tense” languages; not meaning that they convey stress particularly well (haha), but that they make adjustments grammatically when referring to past, present, or future.

Other languages make no changes grammatically, but add a word indicating past, present or future.

So: It rained yesterday, it is raining today, it will rain tomorrow; vs. It rain yesterday, it rain today, it rain tomorrow. (Actually, it’s snowing right now, which is absolutely ridiculous even if it is Michigan in April, but that’s beside the point.)

The people in the countries with languages with no grammatical differences between past, present, and future are substantially better at planning for such things as retirement. The theory is that, as there is no differentiation between now and then, the residents are better able to recognize that their actions today will impact their lives tomorrow and beyond.

I found this to be incredibly fascinating, and important.

Because really, there is nothing, no thing, that exists only in the past, the present, or the future. Every single thing that has happened to us affects who we are; every single thing that we do today will affect, in one way or another, what happens tomorrow and next week and next month and next year.

(I suppose, if you really look at it closely, whether we had a peanut butter and jelly or salami sandwich on September 5th in 4th grade is irrelevant, but I’m sure you know what I mean.)

It’s funny, though, because all this really does is convince me of how important it is to pay attention.

"Be mindful, young Padewan."

“Be mindful, young Padewan.”

This sunny day, this full moon, this moment on the couch with Husband, this great book to read or knitting project or fabulous glass of wine with a really good dinner. Fifteen minutes in the hot tub. Digging in the dirt to plant flowers and vegetables (if it ever stops snowing). A good night’s sleep. Balancing buying the Perfect Pair of Shoes



with saving for retirement.

That sort of thing.


This train of thought always reminds me of




5 thoughts on “all on the same timeline

  1. I can’t let this one slip past without a couple of comments:

    1. I’d like to know how they decided that “The people in the countries with languages with no grammatical differences between past, present, and future are substantially better at planning for such things as retirementand which countries they are. I’m actually guessing that we’re talking about Asia (China?) versus the west, and that planning for retirement means when you retire you live with your children and they look after you. This sort of planning may be “better” in some eyes, in that it’s not such a burden on the state and is predetermined well in advance, but I wouldn’t like it. I would rather a less planned, more individual approach.

    2. Anyway, I suspect your yesterday/today/tomorrow point was just triggered by the above idea …and to me your point has a validity regardless of the truth of the practical aspects of the community planning issue. I completely endorse the idea that Every single thing that has happened to us affects who we are…. Damn it! I can’t get away from what happened to me 50 years ago. I dread having to live with the consequences of what I do today.

    • Ah, oldblack, alas, I don’t know “what happened to [you] 50 years ago”, and whatever it is, I’m so very sorry.

      Butt look at it this way — it’s all a continuum, yesterday, today, tomorrow. But while you can’t change yesterday, you can always change tomorrow.

        • Well, it might be. And we can always certainly try to make it so. (And also accept, once in a while, when it’s not.)

          An Ani DiFranco line I love: “. . .and I don’t always feel lucky, but I’m smart enough to try, ‘cuz humility has buoyancy, and above us only sky. . .”

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