How long is a moment? It’s a question that’s been debated since the beginning of time, as it is with us. Science and art are no strangers to the idea of measuring moments. The Chinese would say there are seconds and millennia later the Japanese would give a second definition, as would some folks in Europe.
No matter how you decide to answer the question, “How long is a moment?” is a useful question to ask. For example, if I asked you how long the earth was, you might reasonably say, ” indefinite.” You see, the Earth is really a complex object, so it’s hard to say how big it is, or how long it’s been going. The answer depends on how you wish to frame the question, and how much information you want to accumulate about how the Earth works.
How Long is a Moment
On the other hand, a simple question such as “How long is a moment?” might seem like a very simple question to answer. It might seem like it’s a question that has only one answer, and that’s infinity. Infinity as a concept is complete without a doubt.
If you asked a person to tell you how long a moment is, and they told you, ” Infinity,” would you believe them? Probably not. Because you’ve been told so many different answers by so many different people, you might feel that you have no choice but to accept whatever they tell you. However, what if you were told, ” Infinity is not a real measurement, because it doesn’t exist in any reference frame.” Would you still accept their answer?
How Long is a Moment in Real-Time?
This is how you get around the question of “how long is a moment in real-time? It will always be the present. In that case, the question becomes, “How much time does it take to move from one point to another?” The answer is never more than one second.
Now let me make something very clear: you don’t need to know how long a moment is, and you don’t need to know anything about any particular moment. How long a moment really depends on how you are thinking of it. Think of your last five moments. Can you describe all of them in one sentence? That’s how many moments you are actually experiencing at any given moment. That’s also how many moments there are in which you might be able to describe a moment, but cannot quite pin down exactly how long that moment is.
How Long is this Moment
So if you ask “How long is a minute?” you’re not really answering the question, “how long is a moment?” Instead, you’re asking yourself, “how long is this moment?” And this can be much more difficult to determine than the question of how long a moment is.
I would like to suggest to you that our question of “How long a moment is?” needs to change from “how long a moment is” to “how long a moment is to me.” I would like to suggest that you move from being concerned about duration, and how long a moment is for you, to being concerned with the experience of being within that moment. If you do this you will discover that the question of “How long a moment is?” fades into the abyss.
Consider this, there are many different ways to imagine how long a moment might be. Most of us tend to visualize long, drawn-out moments. This is because we have been conditioned by media, education, and society to think in terms of minutes, hours, even days. We need to break away from this conditioning and start picturing moments as Eagleman sees them.
Eagleman goes on to suggest that there are actually three kinds of modern seconds: synthetic, ideal, and degenerate. The synthetic or modern second is the general out-of-body experience one gets when contemplating the time and the cosmos in general. This kind of thinking leads to a mechanized and controlled existence. The ideal second type of second gives us the freedom to live outside of time and the cosmos and to experience timelessness. The last category, degenerate seconds, are those that lead to panic, frustration, and the feeling that we are out of control of life.
How long is a moment to you? In my opinion, it’s ninety seconds. So, next time you find yourself wondering, “What is that moment?” try picturing it for a few minutes and then visualize it for a few more. Find a peaceful place and let your thoughts and imagination run free. You’ll soon know the answer to the age-old question: What is a moment?
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