Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's Be Frank About Time Travel

It's Friday, and I'm feeling oddly psychological.  Perhaps that's a function of the week I've had, which was quite intense, or perhaps I'm just weird and these things occur to me at odd times, but I've found myself thinking about an odd phenomenon that happens to me almost every day, and I'm almost certain happens to almost all of us.  I am speaking, of course, of time travel.

Have you ever known somebody, maybe a parent or grandparent of yours, that seems perpetually stuck in the same era of time, despite the changing years and Presidents?  The only good music was written and recorded in the late '60s and early '70s. Or alternatively everything went to hell in the '60s and '70s.  Things were so much simpler back in the '30s and '40s and '50s.  Whether it's longing for the good old days, playing their Beatles and vintage Jimmy Buffett albums, or voting Republican like Eisenhower's still on the ticket, people time travel all the time.

I time traveled late last night, when I picked up a book on cosmology written in the year 2001, which while speaking of exoplanets and interplanetary exploration quickly dated itself.  Curious about how that came to be, it took me a few minutes to realize that 2001 was in fact ten years ago.  To me, anything after 1997 feels like just a few years ago.  Now how can that be?  After all, a lot's changed since 1997.  The Baltimore Orioles won the AL East in 1997.  In 1997, smartphones and broadband weren't even on the average consumer's radar yet, let alone ubiquitous.  A lot has changed indeed.

Let's think about this for a minute.  In 2001, I was seventeen years old, and just coming of age.  A lot of the best music I listen to came out that year, or the year or two before.  2001 is a year I associate positive memories with.  Even though my own life has changed dramatically since then, it feels as if so much of who I am came into being that year.  Maybe that's it.  For me, the universe is perpetually stuck somewhere between 1999 and 2006.  It's reflected in the music I listen to, the books I read, and ultimately how I perceive time.  And I know this is how I'm going to be when I'm older, too.  I'll have become exactly the dorky, un-hip parent my parents were before me when it comes to stuff like this.

Perhaps that is part of the aging process.  Perhaps time travel is a requirement as we age.  Or maybe it's just our way or relating the present to our own experience.  Perhaps this is the curse of aging.  Or perhaps those years were just a special time to me and my generation.  Who knows.  But one thing is certain.  I've time traveled.  And I know I'm not alone.


  1. To be fair, you spend much of your awake hours time traveling to possible futures... So in a way, it balances out.

  2. I think it also tends to be that time is more important when you're younger. More new things happen, there's less day-to-day similarity, you have more energy for keeping up with fashionable things. So you maybe have "stronger" memories from those periods. ...Or maybe I've just been really shut-in lately.