Right now, I've got it made. There's a tawny owl on my shoulder, I'm typing on my Logitech keyboard into an enormous state-of-ancient-art Samsung tower unit and watching a very old cathode tube Logix monitor in the back room of a 1900 Victorian house that hasn't got a mortgage on it. I've put my electric blanket on and very soon I'll be sleeping soundly in a warm bed to wake in the morning to a set of simple tasks including taking Mother back to her home town - at 92 she holds a perfectly lucid conversation and gets around with the aid of a stick.
Life is not hard. I don't face the prospect of a cold night in the local park or the sound of nearby bombs. My home isn't flooded or reduced to a pile of sticks by a passing hurricane. I haven't got to worry about anything that isn't relatively easy to handle.
The above snapshot of life as Me hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. But my perception has. It's hard to remember all the things I've stressed over in the course of adulthood or to count the blessings I've seen come and go. There have been some highlights - a couple of them are catalogued at Quantumology.net; Lambda and Invisibles are physics conferences attended (some might say gatecrashed) in 2013. By the following year I was swimming in very different waters, gasping for breath and wondering where the hell 'land' was supposed to be.
Time passes at different rates according to where you are and what you're doing. The Uncertainty Principle makes sure you can't measure two things at the same time. You can measure one or the other, but while you're measuring One the Other could be veering wildly out of control. This basic premise isn't limited to the speed and trajectory of electrons, either. Uncertainty covers practically everything you can lay your thoughts on and many more things you can't.
Some say time is money. Those who say this tend to spend a lot of focus on finance and 'living the dream'. There's a guy who wanders into work at a distribution centre (warehouse) every day and says on his way by that he's 'living the dream'. The dream is different for everyone, of course, and one man's dream is another man's granted for being taken.
Some say time is a healer. For sure, bodies make themselves better and minds forget pain. Broken hearts mend all by themselves and arguments dissipate into echelons of history. But a cut finger takes a few days while a broken heart takes a few years. The commonality between them is that once the process is complete, what it felt like in the heat of those moments is largely forgotten. Unless you concentrate hard on that fleeting glimpse of past tense and bring to mind the tension of what you went through, which you can do because you went through it first-hand. Try telling the story to someone else, however, and they will remember their own cut finger, not yours. They'll be reliving their own nightmare of a train-wreck, not yours.
Some say time changes everything. So it does, bejesus, and we don't have the faintest idea of what it's going to deliver next. We come out of one scenario and move directly into another. Sometimes we feel the transition, or we do something to actively bring it about. Sometimes we don't realise it's happening until it's happened. But the commonality is, of all these changes, that some element of what preceded it had to happen in order for the progression to come about, and in the glory of hindsight it's very easy to see that whatever it was that really had to happen was not necessarily a matter of our choosing.
Hold on, say some, as they grip for dear life to some concept of a dream they desperately desire to bring about in reality, quoting from Law of Attraction books and finding all those agreeable posts on Facebook written by people saying exactly what they want to hear.
Hold on for one more day... hold the dream... see it as if it's already happened...
Or not, as the case may be. Personally, I'm not one for gaining tight control over my destiny. I'm one of those people who leaps in with both feet - sometimes from a great height - and asks questions of herself afterwards.
Whether the leaping was Beautiful Blessing or Magnanimous Mistake is generally a matter of perspective, and I flapped around wildly in that torrent referred to earlier wondering minute by minute which perspective was 'the right one' to take.
During one of these wildly flapping moments I took a trip to the local supermarket. A woman passed me by in the biscuits aisle holding a mobile phone to her ear. "She's not really old enough to be letting go yet," murmured the stranger to whoever was on the other end of the phone. I stopped, as if struck by something akin to divine providence, and said to the bemused passer-by, "I'm 52 and I'm clearly not old enough to be letting go either, so you can tell her age has nothing to do with it."
I will never know what that woman made of that moment, or even if she will remember it.
This weird thing people call 'letting go' isn't, in my experience, something you have any choice about. Time takes care of it as you proceed down the path of taking care of yourself. The more you discover that what you're holding onto is a temporary set of illusions, the more inclined your brain becomes to allow it the rite of passage. The more time you spend in a whirlpool of your own emotional making, the less likely you are to keep liking it. And in accordance with the basic template of survival, if something is unhelpful to personal progress you'll eventually muster enough logic to move into territory of greater potential. Deer don't hang around where the grazing doesn't exist any more.
That doesn't mean to say you have to lose faith. Losing faith is like losing a part of yourself - the part to have faith in is, ultimately, yourself. The quarks you're made of, the electrons that fuel your EM field, the information pouring through you from the solar neutrino factory - these are things to keep faith in, and they'll collectively tell you when something is right. Even when something is right, however, it won't be forever. Nothing is forever. Only the concept of infinity is forever, and that's a blessing, for we all know where to put those parts of ourselves that belong there, and somewhere in our hearts we know we always will.
Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met up with quantum mechanics in 1997, pledging allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies.