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Wishes

In The Time Travel Project on January 15, 2013 at 1:16 am

Time Travel Project Introduction

Dear Younger Derek,

On March 19, 1985 you wrote:

“I wish there were more hours in the day.

“I wish it was always spring or summer.

“I wish there was no such thing as disease, sickness, and famine.

“I wish people could make agreements and not argue.

“I wish I knew Indiana Jones, Woody Allen, The Doctor, and Eddie Murphy.

“I wish people could be nice to each other.

“I wish school could be shorter and we could still learn.

“I wish Ms. La Flamme wouldn’t get so upset sometimes.

“I wish I lived in England so I could watch my favorite T.V. show.

“I wish I had more wishes. “

Again, this is another assignment from Ms. La Flamme’s 8th grade English class. I realize that I have different wishes now.

I wish that the public schools now were at least as good as the schools I went to. I had my gripes about school back then, but I did not realize how good an education I was getting compared to what is going on in schools now.

I wish I had learned to be okay with arguing and not be so quick to agree as if agreeing in and of itself were a virtue. Self-possession and assertion are important qualities that you will work on developing your whole life. When someone argues with you, breathe, and remember what it is you value and what you really believe and what it is you actually know to be true. Agreeing without critical thought can become acquiescence, allowing people to slide over your boundaries and step on your sense of self. Conflict is not the end of the world. In fact, it is where the beginning to solid agreement actually begins. Become more comfortable with it and it will serve you well.

I think the secret embedded in my wish to know the famous and fictional people I mentioned was really the wish to become part of a creative, intelligent, progressive-minded community that didn’t take itself too seriously and went on great adventures. Or at least that’s the wish now.

I’d like to visit so many other places in the world than just England. And I don’t need to go there to watch my favorite T.V. show. Doctor Who is now being broadcast in the U.S. and UK at the same time. And if I didn’t have cable I could still download it through iTunes. What I wish now is that I’d have a chance to write an episode of Doctor Who, but since I’m not British I don’t think I’ll ever be given that opportunity.

I wish that I could stop wishing, accept things as they are, and move ahead. Without forward movement, wishing can quickly turn into worry and I know your wishes have tendency to stagnate in this way and become the cause of stress. The first thing you’ll need to accept as it is is yourself. Then you need to realize that wishes either need to have action applied to them or be abandoned. Wonder tends to be good, inspiring, and motivating for you. However, wishing without action seems to add to your inertia. Let’s trade that in for exercising wonder and positive action.

Apocalyptic Thinking

In The Time Travel Project on December 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Time Travel Project Introduction

Dear younger version of myself,

I’ve come across 2 journal entries you wrote for Cheryl LaFlamme’s 8th Grade English class.

On September 18, 1984, you wrote:

“I think by the year 2004 there will probably be passenger flights on the Space Shuttle. I’ll be 33 then. We’ll have gone through 5 presidents also. I have terrible visions of the future. Overcrowding, wars, inflation, food shortages, fuel shortages and other not so pleasant things happening.”

(I remember that this last line was inspired by an HBO special I saw about the predictions of Nostradamus narrated by Orson Welles. Supposedly the psychic predicted all these things occurring and it terrified me that a horrendous cataclysm would occur within my lifetime. The “other not so pleasant things” involved cannibalism.)

And on October 9, 1984 you wrote:

“Buck did not read the newspapers or he would have known that there was trouble brewing. He walked outside and 7 creeps jumped him and took all of his clothes and threw a grenade at his house and it caught on fire. Then the school bully beat him up and blowtorched the entire city. Battered, bruised, and naked, he thought nothing else could happen. Just then the atom bomb went off. And if Buck had read the paper none of this would have happened. What a bummer!”

I know that the October journal write is meant to just be absurd, probably inspired by Douglas Adams, but it definitely demonstrates apocalyptic thinking. And while the September entry starts straightforward enough, it rapidly concludes with a concern over an inevitable global disaster. For what it’s worth, you were born into a culture that was obsessed with the idea of the end of the world. However, please, please, please, quit this habit. Rest assured that global catastrophe does not occur in 2004. Only your prediction that we’d go through 5 presidents is accurate.

I remember your fear about what would happen to you after graduation. In your more morose moments you became depressed feeling there was no point to school, or in finding work and starting a career, if the world was going to end in a few years. But it didn’t. We’re still here. Horrible tragedies have happened and continue to happen, but the world and its inhabitants are still here. I think that’s the nature of life. Tragedies occur and we wonder how we can possibly go on. But the wonder of it all is not how but that we do go on. It’s inevitable.

I write this to you now because a few days ago a violent tragedy occurred in Connecticut and this Friday it is predicted that the world will end. I’m writing to let you know that there is nothing to fret over. Since 1984 there have been over 40 predicted apocalypses that did not happen. Humans have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. Go here and see list of absurd predictions.

However, I’m not just telling you that you should feel assured because The Apocalypse is a myth. I’m also here to tell you that apocalypses happen all the time and we live through them. I’m talking about the one’s we don’t predict, that don’t happen on a global scale but are still devastating to a school, a city, a family, a single relationship. We can and do live through this and I think that’s pretty miraculous.

So do not fret about the future. We can’t predict what will happen and even when the horrible stuff shows up, we will live through it.  Instead, live in the present with hope.

The Time Travel Project: Introduction

In The Time Travel Project on November 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I have always had fantasies about time travel. When I was younger I’d wonder about the possibility of meeting a future version of myself, someone who could give me advice on what I needed to know in order to handle the future. Because there were so few black people in Yakima, where I spent most of my childhood, sometimes when I would see a black man I would wonder if that was me from the future, come back to keep tabs on me, waiting for the right time to reveal to me who he was. It turned out, of course, that he was just a random black man from the present, or at least I assume that since he never talked to me. Also,as an adult I know I have yet to time travel except at the normal, slow pace of one second per second into the future. Thing is, when this assumed future-self never revealed himself to me, it kind of bummed me out. It’s weird to think that as a child I was lonely for my adult self.

Well, now I am my adult self and while I can’t return to the past, I can communicate across the span of years. I have kept a journal since I was 13 when I was expected to write one for Mary Crago’s 9th grade English class. It was a practice that I continued outside of school, even to this day. Some years I was more prolific than others, but I never set it down for good. It’s the one writing exercise I constantly practice. As a result, I have kept personal messages to myself throughout 28 years of my personal history. I can tell you what it was that I have been worrying about, thinking, feeling since I was thirteen.

This is a unique opportunity for personal correspondence. I am planning on reading these journals and writing back to me in the past, hoping to give him that advice he never got, that insight into the future that would help him realize that everything turns out okay in the end.  But honestly, this advice isn’t for him. It’s for me. It’s really about talking to the internal, unresolved teenager that needs some mentor to help him through his/my struggles. It’s really self-mentoring in the present. It’s also, hopefully reacquainting myself with myself. There are weeks where it feels like I lose track of who I am, my values, my passions, and my vision of who I intend to be. I expect these intimate message will remind me of those things.

So, in the future, you can expect me to type up some of those long-past journal entries. This is just the introduction. I will title and tag them all with “The Time Travel Project”.  For the inaugural post, why don’t we look at one of the earliest journal entries that also has to do with time travel?

“Sept 27, 1984

“I would like to have Leonardo da Vinci as a friend and learn about how he thought up ideas for the helicopter and other inventions. I would like to know him not so much for the paintings he did but to find out how a man from the renisance (excuse my spelling) could come up with such incredible ideas.”

That had to be a response to, “What historical figure would you like to be friends with?”. I don’t really have much comment here. I have evidently always been a nerd. That’s nothing new or shocking. I guess it wasn’t clear that I wanted to be a writer at this point because I’d probably go back and befriend a famous writer, possibly explore the Harlem Renaissance (thank you, spell check) : Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay. But I can’t fault young me for wanting to quiz Leonardo on his creative process. I am pleased to recognize that young me’s intellectual curiosity has remained and continued into present me.