Thursday, November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Just recently, I read a blogger who likened writing and reading letters to time traveling. He maintained that whatever the writer puts in his letter — the events, the feelings, the thoughts — would all belong to the past when the recipient finally reads the letter in his present. The blogger’s insight was clever, I thought. Of course, the individual acts of writing and reading a letter are like time traveling. Of course, the blogger was right. But despite his beautifully worded essay, his thesis still felt obscure to me. Not until I had my own time traveling. No, not until I grew aware of my own time traveling episodes.
In fact, I’ve done it several times. Time traveling. Only I didn’t know it at that time. When I read my old journals, when I looked at old pictures, and when I opened old letters, I unknowingly time-traveled. Revisiting the past, I realize, even without the aid of a time machine like the one in the movie Back to the Future, is also time traveling. It’s like going to an old familiar place, where the memories are presented to you like a vintage movie. It’s like looking at the earlier version of yourself, flaws and all, with fresh dreams and priorities, and driven by a naive view of life. Time traveling makes the old feelings new again, and before you know it, you feel like living in the past for yet another time.
I immensely enjoy time traveling, because it is when I can be friends again with some classmates and former officemates, appreciate my past experiences—heartaches included—laugh at my innocence and blunders, and regard the future, which is now my present, with confidence. It is when I time-travel that I can review with fresh eyes even the minutest details of my life.
I had three recent episodes of time traveling. The first one was when I visited my old blog site, the second was when I went through some of the earlier messages in my old email account, and the third was when I read my MS Word journal. Golly, how can I even begin to describe the experience? Words fail me now, because there are hundreds of things I felt at that time.
I was proud of the insights and wisdom I expressed in an email exchange with a college friend, who had the the same disappointment with career choices as I did. I couldn’t help smiling at my attempts at being funny in one of my old blog entries. I discerned my confusion upon reading my rants about my material lack, but I sensed my faith when I read my letters to God.
What I’m trying to point out is that I relished feeling the feelings I had documented in my blog, journal, and personal email messages, and mentally replaying the situations I had found myself in.
This is in no way living in the past, of course. This is not being trapped in the past. This is just looking back at the past. It is what you do to remind yourself of who you once were — not that you changed totally, but definitely, changes happened along the way — and how past circumstances turned you into who you are now and led you to your current situation. I could hardly remember the exact, I mean exact not just general, reasons I left the TV network I was working for, but after reading some email messages to my college friend, not only did I recall things, I also remembered the exact emotions tied to these reasons. What followed were memories that brought me back to the day I decided to change careers. You see, that’s the beauty of looking back, of time traveling: we get reminded. Oftentimes, we need loads of reminders to move ahead.
The danger, though, is when we fail to travel back to the present. Or choose not to. And this is where things get amiss. Because we have already been shaped for the present, we no longer fit into the past. If we push ourselves into the past, like a jigsaw puzzle tile that crinkles at the edges and in the center when forced into the wrong place, we will look and end up miserable.
That I don’t want to happen to me, so every time I time-travel, I hold myself together and tell myself that now that I’m in a better position to look back at the past, I should see things with appreciative eyes and be motivated to get going.