I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘time’ for the last few days. I’d gotten into a discussion about the relationship between destiny, providence and choice. This got me to thinking about time in general. There is one thing in particular that really strikes me odd, yet seems to have a beneficial effect upon me. It is the perspective I call “subjective time travel”. I came up with this theory/idea a few years ago and maybe it’ll be of some use to you. But then again, maybe not.
At some time in your life perhaps you’ve wondered what it would be like to go back say, ten years, to have a second chance at some of your decisions. There would be things you did that perhaps you might decide not to do.. or things you were afraid to say that you wish you had the opportunity to say. Perhaps it’s realizing what (or who) was really important in your life and you could devote more time to that.
I went to my 10 year High School re-union four years ago and as I browsed about the room meeting people I hadn’t seen for years it occurred to me how many girls there were back then I was interested in that I’d never asked out or even taken the time to know that well. So now here we were ten years later having the following conversation..
“You know, I never did tell you before, but I always thought you were a pretty cool person back then.”
“Yah, well, I saw you all the time but I guess we just hung out with different crowds. Before I knew it, we were graduating and we all spread apart.”
Well, whether it be a help or hindrance, there doesn’t seem to be any way of going back ten years to those High School days to do those particular things over again. Of course, the good thing is you don’t have to go through all the bummer things all over again either, so I guess it all works out. But back to this ‘subjective time travel’ idea. If you could go back ten years, or twenty, whatever.. you would be physically young again because you’d not yet had the ‘time’ to grow old yet. And just as your body would reverse to its previous condition, so would your memory. Thus you’d arrive back in say, 1986 with none of the lessons learnt from then until now.. because you hadn’t yet had the ‘time’ to learn and remember them. With me so far?
Okay, now let’s look at today. Suppose you go on about your life today, and tomorrow and the next day until eventually it is ten years into the future, or twenty years, or even thirty years from now. Let’s say that there you are, in the year 2024, sitting out on your front porch looking out at the stars thinking about the past. And let’s just say that as you looked out at one star in particular you wished to yourself.. “I wish I could go back ten years and have a second chance at everything. Even if I had to do it without the benefit of what I know now.” Bamm! Guess what?! Here you are. You’re back. It is now 1996 and you have the chance now to experience the next ten years with all the vigor, thoughtfulness, kindness, courage that perhaps you’ve kept under wraps the next ten years.
Every once in a while I’ll just stop and say out loud to myself… “I’m back.” too often I feel I look at life from the opposite perspective, that I am at the tail-end of all that I have ever experienced and it’s downhill from here on out. Again, time can be brought into a subjective viewpoint, and thus we can subjectively travel through time from the future and return to… now.
The nice thing about this ‘subjective time travel’ idea is that it really doesn’t matter how old you are presently. When you are twenty you can return to today from being thirty, or fifty. Or consider this for a moment to push the envelope even further. I have seen a man who was in the intensive care unit of a hospital who knew he’d be lucky to live even another 48 hours. And even that amount of time, literally the remainder of his life, those two days he’d spend with a respirator breathing for him and a team of doctors and nurses constantly bringing him back from one heart attack after another. I know he would have given all his possessions, his every last dime to have just one more day of life doing something as simple as taking a walk in the park with his children. Just one day, if only he could have it, he would give anything to have what we take for granted every morning.
One day each of our times will come, it’s just the way of things. And ten days or six weeks after our funeral nothing will change.. we won’t be coming back. Our days upon the earth are over. We will no longer be able to hug our children, love our friends, make peace with old squabbles or take walks in the park. But today, while you are still here, you can look about you and think, “What if by some miracle I -were- given a second chance to return from the beyond, to have time turned backwards so that I could be back among the colors of life?” Bamm! “You’re back.”
There’s a song I heard today, fairly popular one, with a lyric in it something like, “Life seems more precious when there’s less of it to waste.” If I’m fifty years old, I want to remember I’m not eighty years old yet and live to the degree that I can. And when I’m eighty I want to remember I’m not 100 years old yet. And if by some chance I live to be 100 years old I’m gonna stop, look around and say out loud.. “I’m back!” Then my grandkids will just look at me and think I’m senile. But I’ll know better.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.