About this episode

Is the culture trying to pull the wool over our eyes about time? (Spoiler alert: YES.) In this episode of Bewildered, Martha and Rowan explore the concept of time and our complex relationship with it. From the “rubber time” of non-Western cultures, to the experience of “premembering” events that haven’t happened yet, to Einstein's theory that time is just an illusion, Martha and Ro cover it all. It's a time-bending episode you won't want to miss—it may even blow your mind!

Show Notes

Is the culture trying to pull the wool over our eyes about time?

That’s a rhetorical question, folks—the answer is a resounding yes—but Martha and Rowan don’t just leave it at that!

In this episode of Bewildered, they go deep to explore the concept of time and our complex relationship with it. 

Western culture only values a linear ordering of events in a sequence that clicks along at an unvarying pace. And many of us exhaust ourselves trying to do things “on time” according to this model.

Yet if our culture’s version of time is so difficult to deal with, is it really our true nature?

From the “rubber time” of non-Western cultures, to the common phenomenon of “premembering” events that haven’t happened yet, to Einstein’s famous theory that time is only an illusion, Martha and Ro cover it all.

Tune in to find out how you can come to your senses about time and even use its nonlinear nature to guide you. 

It’s an episode you won’t want to miss—it may even blow your mind!

Also in this episode: 

    • How to rest your brain gently against the top of your skull (and why)
    • Rowan reads the instruction manual for a saucepan
    • Martha is terrorized by her iPhone
    • Mystical experiences…on the New Jersey Turnpike
    • The (literally true) story of adopting Bilbo the dog 

Would you like to share something you’re feeling bewildered about? We’d love to hear from you! 

You can follow us on our Instagram channel @bewilderedpodcast to connect with our Bewildered community, learn about upcoming episodes, and participate in callouts ahead of podcast taping.

And if you’re a Bewildered fan, we hope you’ll consider giving us a little rate-and-review love on your favorite podcast player. It helps people find the podcast, builds this beautiful community, and most of all, helps us in our quest to Bewilder the world…

Transcript
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Please note: This is an unedited transcript, provided as a courtesy, and reflects the actual conversation as closely as possible. Please forgive any typographical or grammatical errors.

(Topic Discussion starts around 00:09:28)

Martha Beck:              
[Intro Music] Welcome to Bewildered. I’m Martha Beck, here with Rowan Mangan. At this crazy moment in history a lot of people are feelings bewildered, but that actually may be a sign we’re on track. Human culture teaches us to come to consensus, but nature — our own true nature — helps us come to our senses. Rowan and I believe that the best way to figure it all out is by going through bewilderment into be-wild-erment. That’s why we’re here. [Music fades] Hi, I’m Martha Beck!

Rowan Mangan:
And I’m Rowan Mangan. And this is another episode of Bewildered, the podcast where people trying to figure it out. I myself have tried to figure it out lately by doing complex yoga poses on the floor. And Marty walked in on her hands while I was doing this, and we realized she had figured it out, but she’d figured it out upside down.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. That’s the thing. I mean, have you heard the yoga teachers say, they really do say this, “Let your brain-”

Rowan Mangan:
This is literally true.

Martha Beck:
This is literally true. Let your brain rest softly against the top of your skull. And I used to think, “Okay, that’s weird.” But I found that when I do that, the pressure of my skull on my brain actually communicates things to me. It’s all on the inside of my skull. Yeah. So it’s in there and it’s all figured out, but I can’t really translate it to anyone who is not also upside down, resting their brain against the top of their skull.

Rowan Mangan:
I could imagine people could come and have meetings with you where you both stand on your heads and face each other, and then they would know in silence, and then they would leave.

Martha Beck:
That’s so good. And when you say walking on my hands, just be clear, I was walking with my hands under my feet. So I was literally walking on my hands, not so much standing on my head. So please if you’re doing the yoga pose at home, you have to bend over, put your hands under your feet, and then walk about like a bipedal creature with your brain resting gently against the top of your skull, the inside of the top of your skull. And it will all be obvious.

Rowan Mangan:
I think we’ve cleared that up.

Martha Beck:
Okay. We are done.

Rowan Mangan:
Hmm.

Martha Beck:
So seriously, Ro, what are you trying to figure out?

Rowan Mangan:
I am trying to figure out why I’m so worried about not doing things perfectly, that I recently found myself reading the instruction manual for a sauce pan.

Martha Beck:
Oh, I remember this event. She does not speak lies here. This happened.

Rowan Mangan:
Marty was laughing because I needed a little sauce pan. I had a big sauce pan, but I only had one, and sometimes it was dirty and I needed a little one, so anyway.

Martha Beck:
For you Americans out there, she means sauce pan, a pan you cook soup in. I’m not even sure they know sauce pans.

Rowan Mangan:
Sauce pan, sauce pan. She had a sauce pan. That’s a sauce pan. I put a sauce pan on my fore head.

Martha Beck:
And a rolling pin. I mean to bash your sauce pan with a rolling pin. So it was a sauce pan.

Rowan Mangan:
A sauce pan.

Martha Beck:
Yes ma’am.

Rowan Mangan:
So I took my sauce pan and I got out the instruction manual.

Martha Beck:
A 15 page instruction manual.

Rowan Mangan:
And Marty had just been laughing about the fact that there was an instruction manual. And I was standing across the room, and I mustn’t have replied properly. And she just went, “You’re reading it, aren’t you?”

Martha Beck:
And Rowan just looked back me and said, “Shut up.”

Rowan Mangan:
So I think you’ll agree there’s a lot to figure out there.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. Did you figure out the sauce pan?

Rowan Mangan:
The sauce pan, no I didn’t actually. And I’m glad you asked because here’s the thing.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
People are cagey about whether things should go in dishwashers or not.

Martha Beck:
Oh.

Rowan Mangan:
They choose their words very carefully.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
So that they don’t have to say it’s okay or it’s not okay. And I just think there’s been some weird lawsuits around sauce pans and dishwashers.

Martha Beck:
That is a rabbit hole that I think we could devote a whole episode to. The law suits that have been filed by people angry that their sauce pans haven’t worked correctly.

Rowan Mangan:
I think it would be a great area of the law to specialize in.

Martha Beck:
I agree. And just for those of you who are wondering, my instructions inside my head go like this – grasp sauce pan by handle, lift sauce pan. It has a wooden handle so it is confusing.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Lift it. Lift metal part with handle, strike opponent with metal part, release sauce pan.

Rowan Mangan:
When you said strike opponent, I was absolutely sure you were going to just say, “Strike a pose.”

Martha Beck:
That’s on page 13. I haven’t read that far yet. Vogue, vogue, vogue, vogue.

Rowan Mangan:
Mmh mmh mmh, sauce pan vogue.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. Well, I’m glad that you know so much about sauce pans now.

Rowan Mangan:
Thank you. Yes. What are you trying to figure out, Marty, for God’s sake?

Martha Beck:
I am still locked in this. I wish I had a sauce pan with which to bash technology.

Rowan Mangan:
Oh boy.

Martha Beck:
Sauce pan is technology. Technology is against me, and my computer and my phone they are in league to either destroy me physically or drive me mad.

Rowan Mangan:
Well, listeners will remember that you do have a complicated relationship with Siri, the robot servant.

Martha Beck:
It’s true. But it comes from all directions. I don’t even know what’s happening lately. I mean, we’ve all had auto corrects that go wrong and everything, but my phone will say, “I have a note for you.” Literally, it says to me, “I’ve made a note.” All right. I go look at the note and it just says, “$40.” What do you want? I’ll give you $40. Stop threatening me. And then literally I came down to do this podcast, and I looked at my texts or my reminders, and it just said, “13 days remaining.” And I’m like, “I got to get my will in order. This is terrifying.”

Rowan Mangan:
They’re really menacing.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And then, okay, so it’s frightening to be vaguely implicitly threatened by your own phone, but then it did something that it literally just drove a knife into my heart.

Rowan Mangan:
It literally drove a knife into your heart. This is time to get the cops involved.

Martha Beck:
It drove a sauce pan into my heart. I was writing a text to a friend who doesn’t often text me. And I was really glad to get his texts. He’s a “cool beans” dude. We’re just very cool, very cool. So he writes me this cool text, “Hey, dude, what you doing?” I’m like, “Yeah. Okay, so good to hear from you. We’re all doing fine. Congratulations on the thing you did. Hope to see you soon.” And I sent it. And it went, “Voo” Like it does when it sends something. And then I heard it go, “Voo.” Again, even though I had not written another text or done anything. And I looked at it, and it had sent a follow up text right on the heels of the first one.

Rowan Mangan:
What did the follow up text say?

Martha Beck:
It simply said, “Yeah.”

Rowan Mangan:
As though you had written this text to your friend and then sent it, and then read it through and gone, “You know what? I’m just going to… I have a review of the above text that I would like to share.”

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
That’s a good one. That was one of the great texts. Yeah. I love it when I said, “Hope you’re well. Yeah.”

Martha Beck:
And then I had to write another text that said, “I didn’t mean to send the text that said, ‘Yeah.’ My phone did that.” At this point, my coolness is absolute zero. Nothing can exist at the level of not coolness that I have.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. It’s funny because back when we had the original conversations about Siri, there was a certain lightheartedness to it, but now it really feels like you’re actively being attacked.

Martha Beck:
No, it’s a death battle at this point. Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Wow.

Martha Beck:
If I don’t show up for the podcast, just know that my iPhone did it.

Rowan Mangan:
All right. Oh yeah.

Martha Beck:
So okay, yeah. Okay. She did it. I can’t.

Rowan Mangan:
It’s me. It was coming from inside the car. Wait, our house brain. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Yeah.

We’ll be right back with more Bewildered. I have a little favor to ask. Would you consider giving us a little rate and review love on your favorite podcast player? It helps people find the podcast. It builds this beautiful community. Most of all, it helps us in our quest to bewilder the world. Thank you so much.

Rowan Mangan:
So Marty, today we are talking about time.

Martha Beck:
Time.

Rowan Mangan:
Yes. What’s it all about? Time, time, is the culture trying to pull the wool over our eyes about time?

Martha Beck:
I assume that’s a rhetorical question.

Rowan Mangan:
It’s not a rhetorical question. Everyone wants to know. Just tell us.

Martha Beck:
Yes. The culture is trying to pull the wool over our eyes about time.

Rowan Mangan:
Thank you.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Thank you. Well, we’re done here.

Martha Beck:
We’re done here.

Rowan Mangan:
Thanks for joining us.

Martha Beck:
No, you know this to be true because…

Rowan Mangan:
Well, this podcast episode came to us recently in a conversation that we had on the telephone. Do I lie?

Martha Beck:
You do not lie. Well, you lie sometimes, but not about this.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. That’s fair. So this is what happened recently, I was driving the car along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Martha Beck:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Just like Simon and Garfunkel.

Rowan Mangan:
They would in a bus.

Martha Beck:
Ah.

Rowan Mangan:
Or at least one of them was. Maybe the one was just behind on the seat. Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Rowan Mangan:
They do that. So, I called Marty because I had a sudden thought about the New Jersey Turnpike. And that was – so I called you, pring, pring.

Martha Beck:
Hello?

Rowan Mangan:
And you said, “Hello?” And then I said, “Marty, did you know that I have a weird thing about the New Jersey Turnpike?” And you said, “Tell me all about it.”

Martha Beck:
Do tell me.

Rowan Mangan:
And so I did. And it was [crosstalk 00:11:06].

Martha Beck:
I’m glad that they know all this backstory about what you’re going to say.

Rowan Mangan:
I’m framing it up.

Martha Beck:
Got it. Got it.

Rowan Mangan:
I’m creating a –

Martha Beck:
Picture it, us on the phone, pring, pring.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
New Jersey Turnpike.

Rowan Mangan:
New Jersey Turnpike. You got that? I don’t think I’ve said New Jersey Turnpike enough times yet, New Jersey Turnpike. So I told Marty that when I was a younger person, I once saw a movie called Being John Malkovich, in which a character gets spit out of a magical portal on the side of a road. And I swear to God, the first time I saw that, I went, “That’s the New Jersey Turnpike.” And I said it out loud. There were witnesses. I just said, “That’s the New Jersey Turnpike.” Sure enough, that turned out to be the case in that movie.

Martha Beck:
Ah-huh, I remember that movie.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
And you were just shouting this in a movie theater with people going, “What? Why?”

Rowan Mangan:
I believe I was at someone’s house. I cannot remember exactly who it could have been.

Martha Beck:
Okay. All right. Let’s not get caught up in that. Yeah. Proceed, proceed. Thank you.

Rowan Mangan:
So I don’t think I really knew what a turnpike was.

Martha Beck:
I still don’t.

Rowan Mangan:
I didn’t really know what New Jersey was. And I don’t even think I knew that it was a road.

Martha Beck:
Hmm.

Rowan Mangan:
I’m still not quite sure. A turnpike is a weird word.

Martha Beck:
I thought it was like a gate of some sort.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. It sounds like it should be something that is part of a mill.

Martha Beck:
Well, it’s a turnpike. There’s a guard with a pike, like a spear, right? And then he pokes it at you and says, “You can’t come into New Jersey.” And then you say, “No. Pike, turn.” And he turns his pike and lets you go into New Jersey.

Rowan Mangan:
If you have an ‘easy pass’ on your car.

Martha Beck:
That’s something that they don’t know out there. They don’t know about us and our ‘easy pass’. But when you go on the New Jersey Turnpike, I can’t say it – I’ve said turn “bark”. I’ve said turn “bike”. And I’ve said turn “park”. But I have not said turnpike.

Rowan Mangan:
All proving that there is something mystical about the New Jersey Turnpike.

Martha Beck:
Okay. So proceed with the story. Let us get back on track here.

Rowan Mangan:
All right. So I used to, this is probably… I don’t know, I guess I was in my early twenties. And I would tell my friends, “I have this weird thing about the New Jersey Turnpike.” There’s another movie that it was in, that I also recognized it immediately when it showed up in the movie before it was named. I can’t remember what movie it is.

Martha Beck:
And you’d never been to America. You have no idea what this was.

Rowan Mangan:
No idea.

Martha Beck:
Okay.

Rowan Mangan:
And that line from that Paul Simon song, counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, that would get stuck in my head for weeks. And I used to say to people, “It’s so funny, New Jersey Turnpike is like some little grommet in my brain that is attached to the New Jersey Turnpike. And I have no idea why.” So now in the last four days, I have traveled the 38 miles or whatever of the New Jersey Turnpike four times. Every week I’m going to be traveling it.

Isn’t that amazing? It’s like-

Of all the toll roads in all the world, you have to drive on to mine.

Martha Beck:
Tall roads?

Rowan Mangan:
Oh Marty.

Rowan Mangan:
You must not mock me with my accent.

Martha Beck:
We’re skipping between movies. Yeah. Of all the turnpikes in the crummy world, she had to drive onto this one.

Rowan Mangan:
That’s right.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And so what do you make of this? You’re obsessed with the New Jersey Turnpike. Now you go back and forth between New York City and our house in Pennsylvania. And it’s – you live basically on the New Jersey Turnpike right now.

Rowan Mangan:
That’s right. That’s right. And so we started talking about, is it possible that when I just used to get that idea – that those words, that image of that road stuck in my head years and years and years and years ago, that I was to use the word that you used ‘premembering’ the New Jersey Turnpike. I put it to you, Martha Beck.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. The word premembering is… One of my clients coined that. I can’t remember her name, but thank you out there for coining the term premembering, because I think most people experience this from time to time. There are these glimpses of future. And in our culture, we think it’s normal to remember everything in the past, in the era of time, but nothing in the future.

Rowan Mangan:
Right.

Martha Beck:
So that’s just too woo woo and it can’t be true, but it’s happened to both you and me, and almost everybody I know at some point. What is going on here?

Rowan Mangan:
Right. And let’s just remember as well that we don’t like… It’s suppressed so much that we don’t even recognize it as the function of memory. There’s just like these weird little things that come up, and that’s like, “What is that? We don’t even know.”

Martha Beck:
It feels like memory to me. And you know what? As I’ve gotten older and older and older and it’s happened more and more and more, now I’m 10,000 years old, I have stopped doubting it. When I remember something as vividly from the future as I do from the past, I just trust that’s there. It’s real. And it’s come to pass as my life has gone along. We’ll tell more stories later on, but the reason client coined this is we were in a seminar and everybody there had had this experience. It’s not unusual, but in the culture, it’s unspeakable.

Rowan Mangan:
So as you know, in this podcast, we’re all about helping people from Bewilderment to be-wilde-rment to their wild true nature. And today we want to dig into what is our true nature when it comes to time.

Martha Beck:
Time.

Rowan Mangan:
So Marty, what would you say the culture says about time? How are we to think about time in the culture?

Martha Beck:
I looked it up several places.

Rowan Mangan:
Of course you did.

Martha Beck:
And everyone agrees that time is a way of ordering events in a sequence that clicks along at even unvarying pace.

Rowan Mangan:
I saw a bumper sticker once that just said time is what stops things from happening all at once.

Martha Beck:
Oh, basically that’s a mic drop. We can just leave now. But no, the point is that it’s orderly, it’s unvarying. And it only goes in one direction from the past, to the present, to the future. And you can’t see in the future, you can only see into the past. So all our culture’s definitions of time have those elements.

Rowan Mangan:
Marty Google’s what is ‘time’? And Google responds, “12:44 PM.” And it was just like, that’s what the culture says. No arguments.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. This is the time it is. And we actually there are different kinds of cultures that see time differently. So we have what’s called a monochronous / monochrone culture. So one time, everybody shares one time. It’s all very linear. And those cultures, it would be European and American, North American cultures, Australia too. Western-based cultures are really focused on schedules, and punctuality, and making things happen on time, and deadlines, and productivity. That mindset all goes with this view of time, where if you get a polychronous culture, time is more malleable and events are seen as being able to happen spontaneously, concurrently, backwards. Time is just a much more malleable thing.

Rowan Mangan:
Like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book.

Martha Beck:
Yes, exactly. 100 years of solitude where he gets up every day and every day it’s Monday. And it drives him crazy.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
So, it was interesting when we were talking about this because I said rubber time because that is what I’ve always heard people talk about with this. And you hadn’t heard the term rubber time and-

Martha Beck:
Never, and I love it.

Rowan Mangan:
I wondered if it’s like a Southeast Asian thing and that’s why in Australia, we hear it all the time.

Martha Beck:
You think it would be any place they have rubber.

Rowan Mangan:
Interesting.

Martha Beck:
But I never heard it.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. But it was pretty funny because when my cousin said this to her Indonesian boyfriend, he had no idea. She was describing his approach to punctuality, and he had no idea what she meant, so he Googled it and he was given the translation condom time, which led to a lot more confusion in their relationship.

Martha Beck:
So he’d show up late for an appointment, she’d say, “Rubber time. “And he’d be like, “Yeah, I’m in.”

Rowan Mangan:
I think that’s what happened. Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And that’s why you have your darling relatives. I don’t know if he’s the father of your cousin’s beautiful son.

Rowan Mangan:
No, I’m afraid not.

Martha Beck:
Okay. So he actually did have a rubber.

Rowan Mangan:
It worked.

Martha Beck:
All right. So that prevented one life that we would’ve loved dearly from occurring – rubber time. Anyway, our culture doesn’t think in terms of this mystical “every when”. I once read the word every when as a translation of an indigenous culture’s view of ultimate reality. And instead, we’re always focused on doing things on the time, and it’s exhausting, and we drive ourselves – I think I’ve mentioned on the podcast before when slavery was abolished in Caribbean, and the white overseers just became businessmen. The former enslaved people said, “They’ve replaced our manacles with their wrist watches.” Time was like a manacle around them. So maybe if time is that difficult to deal with, maybe that’s not our true nature. Maybe that’s just the culture because true – monochrome cultures have taken over the world, but polychronous cultures were much more plentiful all over the world for many, many, many thousands of years. So maybe that’s our true nature.

Rowan Mangan:
I think that there’s a very good case to be made in that direction. I was thinking about a novel that I really love, that I actually studied in high school by Ian McEwan, the British novelist, it’s called, “The Child in Time”. It’s a hell of a read. And there’s a physicist character. It’s all about time. And there’s a physicist character in the book who says… Who’s always coming in as the voice of, “Well, couldn’t this be that? Does it have to be this”

Martha Beck:
So explaining to another character what’s happening?

Rowan Mangan:
Monochronous.

Martha Beck:
I have no idea how to pronounce. Those are words I have read but not heard. I’m just making it up. I’m winging it.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. I think that’s fine.

Martha Beck:
But she’s there to explain this physicist sense.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. And so before we start talking about how do we come to our senses around time, I just wanted to read this quote, which is what this physicist says in “The Child in Time”. She says, “But whatever time is, the common sense everyday version of it is linear, regular, absolute marching from left to right, from the past, through the present to the future is either nonsense or a tiny fraction of the truth.”

Martha Beck:
Either nonsense or a tiny fraction of the truth. So you read a novel, even though the novelist is very, very smart and obsessed with physics, so he knows a lot. You can still say, “Okay, that’s fiction.” But as I mentioned, we’ve had experiences that turned out not to be so fictional. One of the things that really jumped out at me was a time I was probably 14 or 15, and I was in the room with the TV in our house. And I was just on the floor, drawing. And I looked up and on the screen, there was a man running around a track inside a… Not a warehouse, gymnasium or something. It was a big building with a track in it.

Rowan Mangan:
Airplane hanger.

Martha Beck:
Something like that. Anyway, man running around track. And just that, and I immediately thought, “Well, that’s where I’m going to college.” And then the voice came on and it said, “Here at Harvard’s blah blah blah blue track, they’re examining blah blah blah blah blah.” And I was like, “Oh, Harvard, weird. Wow.” And I have mentioned it every five minutes since, like everyone else who went Harvard. No, but I really, I think that’s one reason I applied, but still even the idea that I’d get in, it was just an absolute, plain remembered fact from the future.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. Right. I just want to say something about what you said before about fiction though because so you said, “Oh well, we could just say, ‘Well, that’s fiction.'” Right? And I have a bone to pick with that idea because I don’t think there’s any such thing as just fiction, especially when we’re talking about something as subjective as the experience of time. The idea of fact and fiction, it just seems so meaningless. Even the physics of it is so theoretical and there it’s just people postulating this, that, or the other, right? So I just think it literally doesn’t matter if something is suggested in fiction or in fact – in nonfiction when we are talking about this sort of topic. You know what I mean?

Martha Beck:
About this sort of thing.

Rowan Mangan:
Because it’s just like everyone’s only got whatever’s inside their head, and objectivity doesn’t really exist in this sort of topic. Do you know what I mean?

Martha Beck:
Yeah. I mean, I understand that to be… I mean, many people who write fiction are putting a great deal of the truth in there. And this is a case where somebody actually knew an enormous amount and was writing about it very articulately and more to the point. It lands. For me, for you, because it resonates with some experience of time that’s really deep inside us. I remember when I was 16 and I was obsessed with time can’t work the way they say it does. And I had these little flickers of future memory all the time.

And then I read a very, very basic guide to Einstein’s theories. And it talked about him being on a trolley car, moving away from a clock. And he thought, “If I were a photon moving at the speed of light, then the only image I would ever see of the clock is the one it has right, right now. So if I were moving at the speed of light time would not exist for me.” And so I went, “Oh.” And everything inside my brain went, “Oh, thank God that’s the way it really works. Of course I knew that’s the way it really works.” Where does that come from?

Rowan Mangan:
You are an unusual person. Just pick up a little Einstein to read when you were 16.

Martha Beck:
Oh, it was-

Rowan Mangan:
It’s not how I was spending my time when I was 16.

Martha Beck:
I know. Well, yeah, considering the way I looked at 16, I had to be doing something with my time.

Rowan Mangan:
What is that meant to mean?

Martha Beck:
Well, you had boyfriends and whatnot or girlfriends or whatever, right?

Rowan Mangan:
I had not-

Martha Beck:
You had a social life. You were out on sailing tall ships.

Rowan Mangan:
I was wasting my youth.

Martha Beck:
I was sitting in my bedroom reading Einstein for dummies and going, “Maybe this will save me.”

Rowan Mangan:
Wasting your youth.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. We all waste our youths in different ways.

Rowan Mangan:
It’s fair. So it’s like we have these little flickers of the future that come in, right? But we don’t know them for what they are even necessarily. Like, you, that’s unusual that you went, “That’s where I’m going to college.” Because that was very clearly framed up as, “Here’s something that’s going to happen in the future.” Whereas for me, often they just feel like strange occurrences in my mind. And it’s more like a glitch in the matrix.

Martha Beck:
Ah, yes.

Rowan Mangan:
How could I know that that scene by the side of a completely anonymous road was the New Jersey Turnpike?

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
That’s just a glitch in the matrix. And that is a cultural reference that I don’t think we need to explain at this point.

Martha Beck:
No. And in the movie, The Matrix, when Neo sees the cat walking past, and then he sees it walk past again, and he realizes there’s a flaw in the code that is creating his reality. And he’s like, “Oh, things are not what they seem to be.” Over and over you’ll find this mentioned in fiction, and in people’s real experience.

Rowan Mangan:
Just fiction, that’s just fiction!?

Martha Beck:
And their real experience. It’s like, “Oh, there was a glitch in The Matrix.” There’s a reason that movie resonated with people. We all have “glitch in the Matrix” moments. This is what I’m saying.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
And then as you said, we’re so socialized to say that doesn’t exist hat we don’t even sit down and go, “Huh. I wonder where that really is.”

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
But we’re doing that now. And so we’re having all these prememories, but maybe we’re just – by seeing time as linear, and fixed, and running in only one direction, we’re robbing ourselves of an experience of human life that is richer in data, in intelligence, both in the sense of the information and the wisdom that’s trying to come to us from a part of the psyche that clearly is tapped in outside of time.

Rowan Mangan:
Hey, Marty.

Martha Beck:
What?

Rowan Mangan:
Do you think that it is possible to force a prememory?

Martha Beck:
Huh.

Rowan Mangan:
Or do you just have to wait for them to float by like the cat walking by twice?

Martha Beck:
You know what it feels like to me? And I’ll talk more about this in a minute, but when you said that, I went and I tried to find a prememory. And I noticed myself doing a sequence of behaviors.

Rowan Mangan:
Oh.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. I turn my attention inward. It’s like a pike turning.

Rowan Mangan:
Well, that’s a very clear image to me.

Martha Beck:
And very close to New Jersey, may I add?

Rowan Mangan:
Okay.

Martha Beck:
I found my attention turning inward. And then I was scanning an internal landscape of time, looking to see if I could preremember something now. And what I got was not any clear vivid image, but a shimmer, a texture of things to come.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
And I realized that this is happening to me, not once in a while, but all the time. And we’ve talked about how when something’s going to happen to us that’s very momentous, it feels like it’s coming closer and closer. And part of me already knows it well. And it’s talking to the part of me that’s in linear time and going, “Here it comes, here it comes.” And the sense of it coming gets almost overwhelming. And sometimes I know what the thing is, but often I don’t know. I just feel something coming.

And I know, well, it’s like when our company was meeting to discuss what we were going to do in 2020. And we went around the room, there were six people, and we’re all talking about what are our goals for ourselves. What are our goals for the future of the company, a little company in 2020, right before the pandemic hit. And every single person said, “I can’t really feel anything. I don’t know what’s meant to happen.” And then one woman sat up straight and said, “All I can feel is, be ready.” And everybody in the room like-

Rowan Mangan:
Oooo.

Martha Beck:
… chills. And she could have said it at a different time. And I don’t think it would’ve affected us all so much, but we were all like, “Holy crap, what’s going to happen.” And we were poised, remember? And then when it… And I, of course thought something wonderful was going to happen….the plague, but when it did happen, it was like that was it. Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
And we can also be, I think sometimes when something’s meant to happen, there can be an almost like such a tension between the part of us that’s not in time and knows, and the part of us that is in time and is like, “Why am I so unhappy? This isn’t right. This doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t feel like my life should feel.”

Martha Beck:
Remember when we were living in California and you decided you wanted a dog?

Rowan Mangan:
Yes.

Martha Beck:
And you were like, “I think I want a dog.” And we said, “Okay.” And we went online and looked for rescue dogs. And we saw the dog that would be ours. They called him Wally. And we just said, “That’s the dog.” So then we found out somebody else had already claimed him. And you were distraught. You were like, “That can’t be true. That’s my dog. That’s my… Where’s my dog. How come he’s not here?”

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
I’ve had that feeling before for different things. And then Ro created a 16 page dossier on why we should be the ones to get this rescue dog. And it had illustrations, it had the original poetry, and a lot of science.

Rowan Mangan:
It did not have poetry.

Martha Beck:
Well, it was like poetry.

Rowan Mangan:
It was very compelling imagery and text about why this dog would be happier with us.

Martha Beck:
And so the people got it and they were like, “Holy crap, you really want this dog.” So if you’d want to drive 800 miles to come get him-

Rowan Mangan:
Along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And they said his name is Wally. He never responds to his name, but if you pat, and squeak, and kiss, and he’ll come to you then, but he doesn’t ever respond to his name. Okay?

Rowan Mangan:
I’m looking at him out the window while we record this.

Martha Beck:
I think I just told the people way too much about my internal life. Anyway, and possibly our relationship as well. Anyway, so Karen and Ro went off to drive several hundred miles to where Bilbo was being given away by this family. And they got out of the car, and we’d already decided that we would name him Bilbo. And you got out of the car, right? I mean, I wasn’t there. So you tell it.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. But you’ve got the story really tied up with a bow.

Martha Beck:
This is the way it was told to me. This is what Karen said, “Ro got out of the car and said, ‘Bilbo.’ And this little black dog turned as if he had been pulled by fish line and just ran straight to her.” And he’s always responded to the name Bilbo always.

Rowan Mangan:
Or even as I call him, “Bilbo.”

Martha Beck:
Bilbo.

Rowan Mangan:
Bilbo.

Martha Beck:
People say, “Oh, your dog’s so cute, what’s his name?” And Ro says, “Bilbo.” And they say, “Bo, Bill, Boy.” I love Australian.

Rowan Mangan:
Oh, Australian.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. When something’s really close, you do this all the time. And I do it a lot of the time. It becomes almost maddening that the thing is not present. To me, it’s like our part of the mind is existing in that horizontal marching line of time arrow going from left to right in a regular sequence, but then there must be – even though these are anecdotal experiences, they happen to me. I have to credit them with something.

Rowan Mangan:
Right.

Martha Beck:
So it’s like there’s a part of me that is eternal, which means outside of time. It does not mean forever and ever, it means with no time. And I’ve gotten the linear era of time moving along, that’s a mind. And then another part of my psyche is outside of that saying, “Now it’s time for you to move to a ranch in California.” I saw that ranch every single morning. Before I would open my eyes, I would be like, “Now I’m living on a ranch in California.” And I could… this is when I was living in Phoenix. And I would see exactly-

Rowan Mangan:
Otherwise it’s quite a boring story. I saw that ranch every morning. I just woke up and opened my eyes and I thought, “You live in a ranch.”

Martha Beck:
Yeah. The only interesting out that story is that it happened before I’d ever been to this ranch in California.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
I would just wake up and it wasn’t a dream. I would just see that when I opened my eyes, I was going to be in this particular landscape, there was a field, there was black horse in the field. I could see the mountains, I could see the structures. And I would open my eyes and I’d be in Phoenix where I’d lived for 20 years. And I could not believe that I couldn’t find the ranch.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And then I went online. People are going to think I’m really… See, here’s the culture, they’re going to think I’m crazy. So I start to censor myself. But the fact is, eventually I got so familiar with that ranch and everything on it that I simply went on a real estate site and Googled all the structures that I knew were on that ranch and found the only ranch that fit that profile. And it was being offered for sale. And that’s where we went.

Rowan Mangan:
So in that case, that was just really clear information. You were just being given, “All right, you want a barn here, and a dwelling there, and da, da, da.” But I feel like sometimes it doesn’t have to be as purposeful as that. I feel like sometimes it’s you get these flickers and they’re just these delicious little hints and tantalizing clues and stuff. Do you remember that “My Love Is In America”?

Martha Beck:
Oh, tell that one.

Rowan Mangan:
So I just for years, there’s this folk song, her sweet folk song called “My Love Is In America”. And it’s this story of this Irish couple who he’s gone over to work and send money home. And they just miserable without each other. That kind of song. But I would just have that line in my head for about 18 months. And it was before I had any, again, any intention of coming over to this country, any like particular interest in this country, but I would hear “My Love Is In America”, “My Love Is In America”.

Martha Beck:
I’m so glad you did.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah. Sure enough.

Martha Beck:
This is important because you do things based on… Well, both of us, we tend to do things based on these flickers and these intimations because we both like to get outside of culture and trust the woo woo. And it gets stronger for me because of experience over time. And I used to do this thing that I want to tell the peoples about because you could maybe use it. When I was young and going through something difficult, like when my son… I constantly talk about my son’s diagnosis with down syndrome because that was a big turning point in my life. At times like that, I would sometimes feel so completely out of options. I didn’t know what to do. And I would pretend that a very old version of myself was in the room with me. And it was always a 50 year old self because that is-

Rowan Mangan:
Wow. That is old.

Martha Beck:
It’s the oldest I could imagine being ever.

Rowan Mangan:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Martha Beck:
So I’d be sitting there in anguish, and I would picture my 50 year old self coming into the room, and I’d say, “How did I get through this? Cast your mind back in time, remember the past and tell me how to do this.” And she would. And I’d write it in a journal. And it was just my imagination. I knew that, but it helped. Then when I moved to that ranch, it happened to be the year I turned 50, and I would sit in the forest and meditate.

And many, many times I felt as if when I sat down and let go, I got pulled into a dark room in Cambridge, Massachusetts where a pregnant 25 year old was sobbing her guts out. And I’d say, “It’s okay. I’m here from the future.” And she’d be saying, “How did I get through this?” And I would say, “Here’s how you did it. Here’s how you do it.” And I honestly believe two things. One is, if you ask your future self for help, that future self can give it to you, even if it’s just imagination, it will at least give you something to work with.

Rowan Mangan:
There’s no such thing as just fiction, just imagination. It’s all equally real.

Martha Beck:
Yes.

Rowan Mangan:
There’s no objectivity in this game.

Martha Beck:
There is no objectivity. Yeah. So the glimmers come through, and if you trust them and go with them, your future self will help you or your eternal self. And then the other thing is that I believe those times when as a 50 year old I went back and talked to the 25 year old were very healing for me psychologically.

So I always have this thing, and maybe you can use this if you had difficult times in your past. I go back and I find the younger self and I say, “Okay, you’re going through this right now. And you don’t see a way out, but I am going to promise, you will find a way out. You will be happy again. You’re going to one day look back and say there were wonderful things about this experience. And I can tell you this for sure, 100% certainty because I am from your future.”

Rowan Mangan:
And you know what I love about that is that it closes the circle. And so often it seems like time behaves more in our experience, again, subjectivity. It behaves in circles. It doesn’t behave in straight lines. And I was thinking, nothing… The famous there’s no straight lines in nature, nothing is a straight line that we know to be real and that we can observe. Why would time be the one exception, the one natural phenomenon that you can measure? You can just draw with a ruler on a piece of paper. It just that’s-

Martha Beck:
And if you did draw a line with a ruler on a piece of paper and you kept the line going all the way around the world, it would turn into a circle. Even what we think of as straight lines become circles.

Rowan Mangan:
Good point.

Martha Beck:
Because they’re… Yes.

Rowan Mangan:
Unless the flat earth people are right.

Martha Beck:
That could be a whole different podcast. Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Yeah.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. Actually, that is precisely the experience that I’ve had when I meditate and I drop into the present moment. So my nature, if you go to… Eckhart Tolle says, “If you go to an eagle or an oak tree and you say, ‘What is the time?’ They will say, ‘Now.'”

Rowan Mangan:
They will say 12:44 PM.

Martha Beck:
12:44 PM all the time. But it’s always now in nature, in our truth. And our minds live in this horizontal time. And we’re obsessing about the past and terrified of the future, but when that part of the mind drops away and you’re really, really genuinely present like animals are, like all nature is, to me, it’s like the line of time – it just falls apart. And in its place is this gigantic sphere of “every when”. And I’m at the center of it. And you’re at the center of yours. We’re all subjectively seeing our own time scape. But when you’re looking at it from that position of it’s not linear, I’m existing in all the days of my life right now, there’s less fear. There’s more wonder, there’s more joy. And then the culture says, “But that’s not true.” And I say, “How do you know?” Right? I mean, maybe this is reality. Maybe every when is more real than linear time.

Rowan Mangan:
But doesn’t our experience of the thing is the thing, right? This is what I keep coming back to is, I mean, I guess there’s our meeting is at 9:00 AM. There’s that.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
But for the rest of it, I’m trying to think how I can apply this.

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Because you can tell me time is a pink hippopotamus, and I’m like, “Fine. Cool. Absolutely.” Einstein looked at a clock tower from a street car. All right. Fine, but so what? Apart from my delicious little glimpses of “My Love Is In America”, how does it help?

Martha Beck:
It’s delicious and we say it’s woo, woo. And it’s like you have a little taste treat off to the side, a little sorbet for your pallet after your real meal, which is linear time all the time, damn it.

Rowan Mangan:
That’s a great metaphor.

Martha Beck:
And what if that’s not the truth? What if it’s more than glimmers if we allow it to be? So all it takes is prying the mind free from that rigid definition of time. And many, many cultures never even have that definition of time. And what if we let go? If we just open our minds to the possibility of the eternal self, the out of time self, I bet it could comfort us, could guide us. I mean, just talking about those times I feel like somehow you and I knew each other before we knew each other. And I have to say right before you came into my life, four days before, I had this overwhelming yearning for a certain person. I wrote, and I didn’t think it would be a romance, but I knew someone was coming into my life.

And four days before I connected with you, really connected for the first time, it became so unbearable that I was actually telling people about it. And they were like, “You’re right. Someone’s coming.” I had friends who were willing to open their minds. And that allowed me… I was really upset the way you were before Bilbo, the dog.

Rowan Mangan:
Pretty much the same sort of situation.

Martha Beck:
If I had trusted, just leaned back into my true nature and said, “All right, I feel this as an absolute truth coming. A memory of my future. I’m going to accept that and trust it.” Or better, if I do that, I’ll have so much less anxiety, so much more joy and maybe a more accurate perception of reality.

Rowan Mangan:
And I feel myself relaxed when I think that. I can feel my body relaxed. I can feel like I’m taking a deeper breath. And that’s always our little signal, isn’t it? That we’re coming to our senses, that we’re coming out of culture and back to nature, right? Is when –

Martha Beck:
Yeah.

Rowan Mangan:
Oh, that feels good.

Martha Beck:
The body is suddenly lining up with the mind and it feels truer. It feels truer to me.

Rowan Mangan:
It does. When I studied that book, The Child in Time by Ian McEwan, I studied it with one of my life’s great teachers – Mr. Geoffrey Joachim, for those of you from my school who remember him, and we just loved him and we loved studying, and it blew our minds so amazingly. This is the first time I came across TS Elliot, I think. And inside the book, there’s a quote from Elliot. And it says, “Time passed and time present are both perhaps present in time future. And time future contained in time past.” And we just, “Whoo. Whoo!” You know that teenage thing when ideas come up. Anyway, a couple of years after we finished school, that teacher died of a stroke very suddenly. And we put that quote in the newspaper as his obituary, and ended up getting read out at his funeral. And it was such a beautiful, another circle coming up and being closed.

Martha Beck:
Maybe it’s all just circles.

Rowan Mangan:
I think it might be.

Martha Beck:
Yeah. And all we’re saying is open the mind, let go of the culture’s closed fist on time and explore openly with your mind what you’re feeling about time and any pre memories you may be having or have had, and see what does to your life.

Rowan Mangan:
And also, stay wild.

Martha Beck:
Stay wild.

Rowan Mangan: 
We hope you’re enjoying Bewildered. If you’re in the USA and want to be notified when a new episode comes out, text the word ‘WILD’ to 570-873-0144. For more of us, Martha’s on Instagram, themarthabeck. She’s on Facebook, The Martha Beck, and she’s on Twitter, marthabeck. Her website is, MarthaBeck.com. And me, I too am on Instagram. Rowan_Mangan. I’m on Facebook as Rowan Mangan. And I’m on Twitter as RowanMangan. Bewildered is produced by Scott Forster with support from the brilliant team at MBI.


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