What is Existence?

This is a subject I’ve been thinking about off and on for the past few months.

Just tonight, I was thinking about extraterrestrial life, if it exists or not, and whether it exists specifically now. Then, I was hit with a mammoth of a question: What even is now?

Time is relative. Einstein discovered this, and the entirety of the scientific community has confirmed it. So, even if there were other forms of intelligent life out there in the vastness of space, what even counts as ‘now’ for us to find them? The question seems actually kind of foolish…

Because there is no such thing as ‘now.’

Everything we experience is in the past. Look at an object, like the screen you are seeing right now to read this. Not only did I write this post in the past, relative to when you are reading it, but the very moment in which you read the words on the screen are themselves in the past. Light takes time to emit and reflect off the screen, hit your eyes, and get processed by your brain. It may be microseconds in this case, but that is still in the past.

But it goes much, much deeper than that.

Some scientists believe time is frozen to light. So, if you, as in person reading this post, were literal light, to everything that is not you, time is passing, but to you, time is frozen. It may take thousands of years for you to cross the Milky Way, but to you, it happened in an instant. So, which one is right? Did no time pass at all, or did thousands of years pass?

It all just makes me wonder if existence itself is subjective. We are all just a collection of atoms. At the atomic level, time also passes very differently than how our brains perceive it.

I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just thinking out loud.

Is EVERYTHING just perception?