Skip to content

The Wind on Your Back

Posted on:April 20, 2021

I came across a beautiful example of symmetry recently.

Modern times teaches us to look forward to events and to put the past behind ourselves.

Ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians did not that think that way. Instead, they thought of time as something that came at them from behind and departed before them into the distance1.

The future remains forever unknown to us, and even though we can see the recent past in clear view, it races away from us, never to be experienced again2.


  1. An examination of temporal terms such as “earlier” (Akkadian: pāna, pān; pānānu(m); pāni; pānulû(m)) or “former times, past” (Akkadian: pānātu; pānitu(m), pānù) shows that these are all related to the Akkadian pānum, or “front,” plural pānù, or “face.” It is a similar case with terms that denote the future. The Akkadian (w)arka, (w)arkānu(m), (w)arki in the sense of “later, afterward,” (w)arkû(m) in the sense of “future (adj.),” and (w)arkītu(m) in the sense of “something later, later days, future” are all related to the word (w)arkatu(m), meaning “reverse (side), behind.” (excerpt from Walking Backwards into the Future by Stefan M. Maul)

  2. See also: 一期一会