The Wind on Your Back

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