Do you ever time travel? I do. I’ve done it all my life.
Of course, I am not talking about time travel in the sci-fi sense, but the time travelling that I suspect most of us do – or at least have done – to our detriment. Let me explain.
I first time travelled as a child when the school summer holiday would come around. Upon the first moment of release, instead of basking in my new found freedom, I would think to myself “in six weeks, this will all be over”. Fast forward those six weeks and I would recall that initial thought and it would have been like those six weeks never occurred. By linking those two moments, I had time travelled.
Keeping with the school theme, I would read in comics or books about a character’s last day in school and imagine that moment for myself. I may have been six or seven when this first happened. Fast forward ten years or so when that event actually took place, my mind recalls the past thoughts and – BOOM – time travel.
Still not with me? It’s like this. Take your thumb and forefinger and hold them apart. Your thumb represents the moment the initial thought occurs about a forward event, the forefinger represents that event. Holding them apart, there is a nice bit of space where all sorts of cool, fun things can happen. Life goes on and memories are made. Now connect the thumb and finger together and instantly the moments are joined and all that was inbetween has disappeared.
In real terms it has disappeared. Past events are just that and, by definition, no longer exist. But, by signposting a beginning and end to that moment in our history, we make ourselves strongly recall those two points and forget all that happened in the middle.
This is not good. Our lives are short enough as it is and time travelling does two negative things. First of all, if you are in a habit of it as I am, you begin to develop a “what’s the point” attitude to life. Should I go on holiday? What’s the point, it will be over before I know it. Should I go to the cinema? What’s the point, it will be on DVD soon. And so on.
The second negative aspect to it is that you negate all the amazing things that happened on the way from point A to point B. Think of a happy childhood memory right now, one that was a couple of decades ago. It seems like it just happened, right? Those decades melted away in a moment and made it feel like time is racing ahead of you.
Obviously, this is a trick of the mind. It could not possibly store a record of every second of every day so it will remember important moments, or fun moments, or moments that you immortalised in a photograph. But we should always force ourselves to remember all those seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months, years and decades otherwise it will feel like life is moving at lightning speed and, before you know it, it’ll be over and you’ll wonder how the hell that happened.
I’m 45. Forty-fucking-five. Where did all that time go? How did I get here? I remember my first day at school, seeing Star Wars, my first dead arm; being an idiotic teenager drawing willies on public property; being a twenty year old glam-doughnut with blonde and pink hair; meeting Vikki approaching my 30s; all the band stuff; edging toward 40 with terror and dread and now here. Wow. As a young person, you can never imagine being anything other that what you are or what you have been. What they don’t tell you in human school is that being older is just like being younger, but with more aches and wisdom. As it happens, it’s not such a bad trade-off.
I don’t want to time travel any more. I don’t want to wish my life away. I want to be more dog and live in the moment, taking account of that moment, looking around me at the sights and smells be they hideous or glorious. I want to waste money on dumb adventures that do nothing to progress me as a human but are just a goof off. I want to be here now and just a peek around the corner, to make sure that any goals or ambitions are on track to being accomplished.
So far, in 2017, I have done a better job at this. Trying to look back or forward less and be in my moment more. It’s hard going though after a life-time of time travelling.