Thursday, April 4, 2013

Time lost...

Back to the Future
Since I was a little kid, I've been enthralled by the idea of time travel. I used to watch Back to the Future most Saturday mornings before or after running off to my soccer game each week. My obsession with the movie may have been due to the phenomenal acting or the captivating cinematography for which Back to the Future is so well known (end sarcasm). More realistically, my habit of watching that movie stemmed from my strong desire to go back in time. Back to a time before my dad had died.

In the movie, it was particularly fascinating to me that Marty McFly went back to 1955 and met his dad. This was the same year my own father was born. In my 4 year old mind (and throughout most of my growing up years), I was sure that if I could have gone back to 1955 and spent time getting to know my dad as a baby, then as a kid and eventually as a teenager, we would have been great friends. We could have squeezed a whole childhood of playing catch, fishing in nearby streams or talking about hot babes into a modified timeline.

Maybe I could have warned him that his genetics frowned upon the diet he would develop and it would lead to clogged arteries. Perhaps I could have warned him that if he didn't do things differently, he would have his first heart attack at 29, then his second (and final) heart attack only 3 years later. But then again, it is possible that his demise at such a young age was his fate. Even with my imagined warnings, perhaps he still would have had to leave our little family as a 32 year old victim of dangerously high cholesterol.

But, now that I am a grown up, and have dabbled a bit in relativity and theoretical physics, I am certain that my childhood dream of hanging out with a youthful version of my dad will not happen. Time, for now, is linear. We can only travel that line in one direction. Once time is in the past, it is there for good.  
Our family sans Mom, ca. 1985

Now, let's break time down a little bit. Within a single day, we have 1,440 minutes to spend, invest, bear or waste. There are 86,400 seconds in each day. Each second that passes in which we haven't learned something, developed something, served someone or created something is just a lost period of time. Every lost fragment of time represents one in which we were not productive.

Of course, one could assume that making the most of every second would mean no time for rest or quiet contemplation. How effective would one's work be if he or she never took the time to plan or think things through? What if someone was anxiously engaged in projects non-stop? There is a good chance the end result would be a bit shoddy. 

None of us are the kind of vampire made popular in the Twilight series... we have to sleep. We have to eat. Our minds, bodies and spirits require a variety of activity to stay sharp and performing at a high level. Sometimes it is wise to invest a period of time into rejuvenating one's mind and soul, so that when it is time to work again, that work will be fortified by our A-game. Taking the time to enjoy a bounteous meal can also yield great results. It can give us the strength and energy to get back to the grindstone.
Not to be squandered

Society, in the modern era, is so fast paced. Everyone is driving faster, communicating less and with fewer characters, eating fast food, getting news, studying and being entertained via high-speed broadband. But faster isn't always better. As we rush through headlines and articles on the internet, we are only skimming bits of information. We do not easily see the whole picture or gain much contextual or factual understanding. Very little is absorbed while going at the speed of light. On our freeways, we blaze through towns and cities...cutting through the intersecting lives of hundreds and thousands of people without picking up a single anecdote from that place and from those people.

We need a deliberate balance of hard work, relaxation, re-energizing and social interaction to be the best people we can be. But in order to not find ourselves 38 and living with our parents, we need to understand that it all relates to time and how we manage it. There is no age requirement in order to make an impact in this world. It isn't like trying to rent a car before you turn 25. Don't wait for the world to open a door for you, take the time you have now and make your dreams a reality (as long as your dream doesn't require a rift in the space-time continuum to be realized).

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