Netzach. Eternity. Netzach she’b’Netzach. Eternity within Eternity.
Whoa. But also: Hooray!
Whoa because it’s a tangle of abstract ideas. An eternity is forever. Are there different kinds of eternity? Like, a smaller one that fits inside a bigger one?
Hooray because I love abstract ideas. In fact, I’m sure there are different kinds of eternities.
(I’ve written about them on this blog. And in the last chapter of my book The Infinity Inside.)
There’s a length of time that feels like forever. Say, 3,000 years. Even though that’s only 30 Aunt Sylvias ago.
And then there’s a length of time that goes on forever. Because that’s just how linear time works. (More on different concepts of time here.)
Finally, there’s a way of being outside of time. God, for example who created time, can’t be measured in time. (I explain it here.)
Three different kinds of eternity. The first is smaller than the second which is smaller than the third. Or something like that.
But also Hooray because abstract ideas matter.
At dinner tonight we talked about Canadian politics. Specifically, about big oil. And the ups and downs of Alberta’s oil-driven economy.
Then, Eli, our adult son, asked a question. “What do you think about nuclear power? People say it’s cost-effective and efficient.”
“No,” I said. “Hard pass. A single leak can devastate a region.”
“No,” Charles, my spouse, said. “It generates poisonous waste. What happens when we run out of places to store it safely?”
Suddenly we realized: we might be wrong about the science. But we are right about time. We are doing long-term future thinking. And people rarely do that.
“Most people can imagine their grandchildren, and maybe their great-grandchildren,” Eli said. “But not really beyond that.”
Whoa. No one takes eternity seriously. Or, to tone done the hyperbole: many people take it too lightly. Maybe, they think, it’s an attribute of a God who lives outside of time. But it’s got nothing to do with our world. Here, everything’s temporary. So, why worry long-term?
So here it is, a challenge. I’ll make it easy, based on the shortest kind of eternity. Can we think 30 Aunt Sylvias ahead?
I’ll try to make it a habit.
Today is Day 25 of the Omer, i.e., three weeks and four days.
New to counting the Omer? Here’s a primer.