“Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity.” -Novala Takemoto
I was mesmerized, looking out the kitchen window at 5 o’clock in the morning. Snow was falling lightly in the amber tint of the streetlights. After a few moments, a tear came to my eye. But I didn’t know why.
Suddenly the falling snow brought me to a time several decades prior, and a place, 120 miles away. I saw a small airport in the distance. More tears appeared and they began to take on meaning, and to bring cleansing, clarity and understanding. They were the tears of a teenager, wondering and searching. I was looking out the window of my attic bedroom where I lived at age sixteen. I lived with some generous relatives who took me in when I was distraught over the divorce of my parents. Snow was still falling.
In that memory I could smell that old attic over the the attached grocery store. I experienced the same emotions that I felt long ago. I was hurting, confused and lonely as I was trying to figure out how to build a new life out without the foundation I once knew. Without thinking deeply or forcing any resolution, the missing element became very clear. It wasn’t just about me. I wasn’t the only one who was hurting. From a new perspective I could now feel the healing pain of other members of my broken family. At that time they felt the same emptiness that I felt. They were concerned about me but didn’t know what to do. Just knowing that filled a gap, and healed a wound that I didn’t realize I had. As soon as that refreshing feeling came over me, I was back in my current space and time. Grateful for the experience, I took a long walk on fresh snow in the quiet of the early morning. The only other person I was aware of was a police officer driving by slowly, certainly checking to make sure I wasn’t in any danger. I came back from this experience enriched and edified.
No time at all transpired while my thoughts and spirit were in another decade. But, there is a danger or risk of no-return, getting lost in the future or stuck in the past. In 1895, Herbert George Wells wrote a novel revealing some of the insecurities and risks of time travel, The Time Machine. He created a world around a time machine that moved forward in time, then came back after almost losing the time machine to theft in another time. The time traveller made another trip and didn’t return. Whether he wanted to or not, he was not tethered to his starting point and there was nobody that could go in search of him or retrieve him and his machine. The novel couldn’t say if he was stuck somewhere in time, still traveling, or simply lost.
Stuck in Time
There is another form of time travel, where time keeps moving and your soul stands still. Your body moves forward with time as it ages. But you are bruised and battered as the calendar bangs against you as it moves ahead. The perceived inability to resolve issues make it difficult to move on. The longer you stagnate, the harder it is to muster up the courage to break free and experience and grab onto “the now.” This may explain the sensationalized trend for adults in their thirties or forties to stagnate, distracted by something or nothing, stuck in a time warp. Unfortunately for their family, they don’t seem to move on, or move out.
In the 2004 film, Napoleon Dynamite, the character,Uncle Rico, is stuck. He had a disappointing experience that he allowed to halt his progress. As a receiver, he missed a pass on his high school football team that lost his team the game, and in his mind, ended his football aspirations. In a moment he saw his dreams of a professional football opportunity fall apart. His reality changed and he refused to adapt. He made superficial half-hearted attempts at new ventures, but just couldn’t let go. His physical body aged and moved with time, while his soul was stuck in a loop of preparing for an opportunity that would never come again, thus reliving his failure many times over each day, with no relief. His resentment leaves him in a living hell.
Don’t Let the Future Steal Your Joy
We’re often given wise advice to live in the present moment, and to prepare for the future. The danger here is the temptation to skip the effort of finding happiness now, to postpone your joy until some random day that may or may not ever manifest itself. If you can’t find joy, now, amid the current challenges of life, you may come up empty handed in the future, still unable to be happy, ever searching but never finding.
Safe Time Travel
Traveling back in time can bring fresh insight to the present. It can provide the opportunity to resolve or let go of envy, resentment or sorrow. It can give you a stronger feeling of gratitude when you look back and see how the pieces fit together. Writing a self-history is one method of time travel that can clarify the present. Even making references to past events in your daily journal as they come to you can provide powerful insight.
Your Past is Your Heritage
The experiences and treasures of the past belong to you and are interwoven with your present and your future.
Just like the history of a nation, people or family, your history has brought you to where you are.
“You had to go through what you went through in order to get where you are today…”— Dr. Wayne Dyer