Too much time on his hands
The closest I’ve ever gotten to time travel occurred with the end of this year’s Daylight Saving Time. The whole “‘spring’ forward, ‘fall’ back” mnemonic has long been lost on me. Given my love of wine, I tend to “fall forward” and, most the time, “spring back,” though sometimes after the party is over.
If said party were in space and was traveling at the speed of light, one might use Einstein’s theory of special relativity to describe the sensation of what seems a momentary lack of consciousness as, “time dilation” or E=Merlot?.
At some point on the eve of the end of Daylight Saving Time, I set my clock – and my alarm – forward an hour. Consequently, I awoke before my wife and son (slackers!) and spent a Sunday morning in a cozy contemplative haze, now two hours ahead of schedule. I busied myself by setting all the clocks in the house forward. I then watched the 8:30 a.m. sunrise, which I thought was rather late but figured, it’s “Sunday,” so the sun is entitled, right? Besides, I never met a deadline I didn’t miss, so who am I to pass judgment on another star?
When everyone else finally awoke, I was informed of my mistake and was summarily commanded to correct all the clocks.
The analog clocks required only the slightest roll of my thumb and forefinger to get right. I’d spent a youthful summer being arty and rolling cigarettes, so I had that motion nailed. It was the digital clocks that gave me hell. I cannot recall how many times I passed by the desired digit doing the a.m./p.m. dance, but it was enough to make me consider a campaign for military time.
It was after this process that I realized I had effectively traveled back in time. I could relive the past two hours, but this time with total mastery. After all, what were the last 120 minutes but a dress rehearsal? I knew what to expect. Nothing. Because that’s pretty much what I did. If I’d known I’d be getting two hours back, I’d have happily swapped them for the couple I lost watching “Waterworld” back in ’95.
Physicist and author Brian Greene has been making the public radio rounds plugging the paperback of, “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos,” as well as a new PBS special. In the book, he surmises that time travel is possible insomuch as one might theoretically travel to a parallel universe that appears like the past.
That’s good enough for me. I fancy myself more of a time-tourist and don’t care to mess with the timeline – I’m wreaking enough havoc on the future, I’m sure.
As a chrononaut, to invoke the lingo, I’m less interested in redressing regrets so much as soaking in the atmosphere of bygone eras. For example, I’d really dig a cup of coffee at Christine’s Cafe in Petaluma, circa 1986. It wasn’t even particularly good coffee but the soul of the city lurked there for a bit and I’d like to revisit the vibe (and perhaps snap the cigarette betwixt the fingers of my younger self). But, alas, that was then, this is 11.11.11, which seems like it might be significant, at least to robots.
In binary code, it’s the decimal equivalent of 63, which might be cool to know if today was your 63rd birthday. Also, if you happened to know this factoid before I pointed it out, you’re probably celebrating alone with online chess. That said, it’s worth reminding that this day is as unique and fleeting as you. We’re eternally springing forward and what falls back are merely memories, poised at the precipice of erasure.
• • •
Time is on Daedalus Howell’s side at FMRL.com.