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Past is a Memory, Future is an Imagination

“At this instant, where are the past and future?  Nowhere.”  (Deepak Chopra)

Remember washing your face this morning?  That “now” no longer exists.  Remember how vivid it felt to be there in that moment, with your face wet, in front of a mirror?

And yet here you are, in a different “now” thinking about that “now” as a “then.”  What is left of that “now”?  Nothing’s left but a memory.  As real as that moment was, now, it is unreal.  And this moment too, in a moment, will become unreal, it too will pass into the nothingness of the past.

We are always in the “now” even if we are spending it thinking about the past or the future.  Thus, the past and the future do not exist – they are fiction, nothing but thoughts about what doesn’t exist.

Any time you are thinking about something that doesn’t exist, you are not thinking about what exists.  Any time you are lost in rumination of what no longer is or in the dread of what just might exist, you are lost in the mental construction called “time.”

[adapted from Present Perfect]

Related: Time Is Not a Stimulus, Time Is a Response

Creative Commons License photo credit: natebeaty

Past is a Memory, Future is an Imagination

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).



APA Reference
Somov, P. (2012). Past is a Memory, Future is an Imagination. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Oct 2012
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