Time Machine, An Ode to H.G. Wells
We extend out from ourselves like ripples in a pond from a drop of rain, a stone, but these ripples sometimes intersect with other ripples, sometimes they escape the shore, reaching beyond. Our existence is part and particle of a vastness we can only begin to comprehend in accepting its incomprehensibility, connected to each other in ways we may not always see or know, connected to one another as is all the water on earth. Drops of rain in the ocean, stars in the night sky, blades of grass in sprawling pastures and grains of sand shifting on the beach. There are few absolutes, everything may be a matter of interpretation. Only the Creator knows everything, it is the arrogance of mankind that assumes otherwise.
Our beginnings are usually somewhere in the middle. Our days fall and pass in succession, numbered, orderly, named Thursday and January, while the actual unfolding of our lives, our stories, is not so linear.
We get out of bed each day in the present, unaware of the energy threads attached to us, emanating from us in all directions, connecting us to a past we think we know and experienced, that we imagine we remember, and a future we plan for, fret over, are often hopeful about, but whatever the case, we are certain, we cannot see. A future the very existence of we dare not take for granted, lest we tempt fate.
We move through the present attached to the past by family pictures hanging in the hallway, Grandma’s wedding rings hidden in the back of the bottom drawer of the night stand, old love letters, souvenirs and post cards from everywhere, a now one-eyed stuffed animal we’ve dragged with us since the Christmas we turned three.
We are connected to the past by familiar smells, the scent of an ocean breeze, chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, old plastic chairs and vinyl pool liners baking in the summer sun, by memories of songs, books, movies we thought we had forgotten and forget that anyone else remembers. We are marked by the past, tagged with scars, physical and emotional, branded by the places we have been, the names we have been known by and the names of those others we have known that we hear again now, reassigned to strangers and think to ourselves… Sam? I used to have a friend named Sam, when I was five…
We are threaded to the future by perpetual motion. Time marches on and we are compelled by the clock on the wall to march with it, or against it, or race it. None of which affects the ticking one bit. If we stop, the clock keeps moving. If we forget to change the battery, there’s another clock somewhere. Some of us set our watches ten minutes ahead in an effort to avoid tardiness, to try to “buy time”. We are attached to the future with the plans we make, birthdays, holidays, weddings, impending childbirth, closing dates, by affirmations to do the laundry tomorrow, yard work on Saturday, get the oil changed next week, appointments with the dentist, doctor, the appliance repair man and all other services scheduled to occur within a four-hour window. Our calendars fill up with where we will be and when, in the future.
It seems a linear existence. It isn’t. Perhaps we are rooted in the present by nothing more than our idea that we are, by nothing more than physical gravity, as our minds easily arc from where we were ten years ago to where we are scheduled to be three weeks from now. We call to book a flight that leaves in a month for a sandy beach that we can almost feel between our toes right now, the phone is answered by a woman named Sheri, the same name of our best friend from kindergarten, suddenly we are five again, making mud cupcakes under our mother’s roses and we can still taste a little bit of a dirt bite taken on a dare.
Those are rare individuals, hurtling through each day like meteors, streaking across the sky without much sentimentality, without much thought for the morrow, moving, moving, moving. But each time, time catches up with them too, meteors burn out or cool, hit the Earth or continue into space as rocks, none of us, it would appear, is completely immune to the transformations of time itself. Extreme circumstance forces us to be here now to survive. But there, sometimes too what saves us is some far-off memory of something good, wondered on for a moment. Time is pliable.
Right this second is ethereal, after all, it’s spider webs on the breeze, touch one and it sticks but it is just as gone. Most of us are daily time travelers. Our stories are not linear but layered and patched together as quilts of memories, some pattern missing from each piece that is none the less fused to the piece next to it by our perceptions, faded and worn around the edges. The beginning then is somewhere in the middle, the beginning is wherever we are now, a now that is continually disappearing into the past.
We are here. And we are already gone.
from “Gold Mine”, 2009