For me a mental model is any big or small notion that I can apply in my life. Some mental models are grand and have multiple applications like, understanding biases and compounding interest, some less so but are still useful like opportunity cost and F=ma. (Here is a link to a big list of metal models.) We all have mental models we apply to how we understand the world we inhabit. Examining and developing these is a path to a greater understand and happier interactions.
Today I’m motivated to explore time as a mental model with random thoughts.
Time, a resource. Finite. We have no idea of the “unexplored reserves”. We can’t know how much is left to us. We don’t know where we are on the continuum call “our life”. I'm no where near the beginning, but am I halfway (I think well past this threshold), am I 80% done or 90% or maybe even 99% done? How knows. We'll see.
I want to be conscious of my use of time. I only need to be courageous for 30 seconds at a time and this applies to every moment.
Sitting meditation (zazen) allows the exploration of the feelings around time. Time during meditation is experienced to speed up, slow down, go missing, be smooth or be filled with pain or emotion. Never the same.
Dogen's Uji - "being time" is a bit different from our usual concept of time. Kind of a mashup of lived experience and the present moment.
Past and future are dreams, we have unreliable recollections and are poor predictors. Dwelling in either the past or the future is a poor, impoverished what to interact with the world. Of course we can learn from the past where we can and it is healthy to prepare for the future when we can, but dwelling there is not healthy. Dwelling in the past and future fixes events and outcomes in our minds and lets us to lead our lives under false notions of our past and unrealistic expectations of the future. Even if our notions of the past and future are true, why would we want to distracted from “Uji” - being time with what did or will happen anyway?
Our experience of the past and future are very impoverished experientially compared to what is available in the present. To trigger the past, it needs memories (remember these are fallible) and the future needs predictions (we’re notoriously bad at this). The present is fully here, all of it is available, no need for extra metal processing. Easy peasy!