Time Travel

Time passing

Every morning, I travel back in time. I go back to the exact same day the year before, and the year before that. And the year before that. I live it like I was there again, in that time and space and circumstance.

I relive the emotions, the hopes, the anxieties and the dreams. I examine the minutia of my thoughts as they play out in the complex arena of what we call real life.

I can time travel because I keep a journal – a page of thoughts and emotions as I start each and every day. What surprises me is how similar my thoughts are over the years, and how much energy I waste on the trivia of things that only matter in that moment. A minor altercation at work. Whether the subway will be running on time. Gaining a pound from eating too much ice cream. Fretting about the repetitive issues of life that never really change and in the long run don’t mean a thing.

How much time do we waste every day on needless worry and anxiety? How much of the thinking power of our amazing brains do we spend on the detritus of life that is ultimately meaningless?

Anyone can time travel. Just write your world down. I don’t try to manipulate my thoughts. I just say how I feel, the things I am thinking. So make a start and soon you will be traveling back to the week before, the month before, the year before. And then to a decade ago.

Eventually, something even more incredible happened to me. l was able to travel into the future.

With the realization that so many of my thoughts were wasted, I could begin to change the way I was actually thinking. I could stop obsessing over life’s noise and begin to focus my thoughts on things that make a difference to my quality of life.

In the end, it means nothing that someone bumped into us on the street. It’s unimportant that the weather is grim. It’s irrelevant that our Facebook posts were ignored. The energy of thought should not be wasted on any of this nonsense. So what should we be thinking about? The things that do matter. Health, friendship, loved ones, freedom. A dream.

And then we will find that by traveling back in time, we can travel into a better future.

A Rough Week

Christmas Bulldog - Web Res

It has been a rough week. So many things went wrong and there was so much to complain about in my complicated life.

Let me think about that.

I was horribly tired and stressed from traveling so much, from being jet-lagged and stuck in the wrong timezone for days and days. Nothing seemed to go right at work. But I don’t toil at mindless, dangerous tasks for twelve hours a day in a Chinese factory, so toxic that I won’t live long enough to see my children grow up.

No, I am lucky.

My kid won’t do her piano practice and wants to play on her iPad all the time and it seems like an endless cycle of conflict. But I’m not selling my children to give them a pathetic hope of a better future. A hope that is a hideous lie of prosperity. A hope that becomes slavery and prostitution just to line the pockets of human-trafficking thugs who profit from the desperate misery of children.

No, I am lucky.

I was hungry every day because I was watching what I ate, in anticipation of the holiday gluttony. But I wasn’t hungry because there was no food and won’t be any food for days on end, even until I am eating dirt. I am not starving and weak, horrified by the sight of my children dying in front of my eyes because I cannot feed them.

No, I am lucky.

There were police and troops at the entrance to the subway, checking people’s backpacks and I wondered about my safety. But I don’t live in fear that armed men will break down my door and rape and murder my family before dragging me away to be imprisoned and tortured.

No, I am lucky.

We complain about our lives in paradise while others suffer in a man-made hell, surrounded by hatred and horror. We complain about the meaningless trivia that disturbs our otherwise perfect existences while others are raped and murdered. We complain about nothing at all while others watch helplessly as their children starve to death.

No, some are lucky. Some are not.

Yeah. It’s been a rough week. And I am the luckiest man alive.

Saving a Life

New York SubwayThe young man was counting twenty dollar bills in his hands when he moved forward and stumbled and fell on the subway tracks. It was right in front of me. I looked urgently at the digital sign above. It said a train was arriving in one minute. One minute.

A thousand images flashed before my eyes of people caught on cell phone cameras in moments of absolute mortal danger. You always wonder what you would do. What you would do if something like that happened in front of you.

And there it was. An opportunity to do something. Or nothing.

And then I realized I had jumped down onto the tracks, just like they tell you not to do. The same sign scrolling, “If you drop something on the track, leave it.” But I was dragging him up as best I could and heaving him back onto the platform. Thankfully, another man reached down and pulled him the last few inches to safety.

Looking down, I saw his twenty dollar bills scattered on the rails and I gathered them up and put them in his hand. I don’t know why I did that.

As I sat him up and talked to him, I could feel the air moving forcefully over me. It was the approaching train. The sign was flashing zero minutes to arrival of the next train. The train roared past, its driver, its passengers unaware of how the evening could have unfolded. The Lexington subway station closed because of an incident. People trying to capture video on their phones for the evening news. A young man died on the tracks tonight. Police do not know if it was an accident or a suicide. They are appealing for witnesses.

But he was alive.

I looked at the people around me and saw something I wasn’t expecting. The eyes of strangers set in judgment. Set in their negative judgment for the young man with long hair and dirty fingernails who had staggered onto the track.

There was no smell of alcohol but his eyes were distant, like they had been separated from the violence of the present. And the people judged him.

I felt awkward when he thanked me for saving his life. It wasn’t like the images on TV when you wonder what it would feel like to do something like that. I just felt sad. I was sad for the way we judge people for being down and out. And how we admire those who have more than us.

I went home on the subway, searching for the exhilaration of saving someone who no one cared about. That sign was still scrolling in my mind. If you drop something on the track, leave it.

Unless you want to save a life.

Buried Alive

ImageIt may be an ironic thing to say, but it is only with the passing of time that we finally see how much of it we have wasted. Most of us are buried alive in a prison of our own making, believing that we do not have the courage, the strength, the ability to be something different. To live in control.  To have focus, energy, clarity and time for ourselves.

Time is more valuable than money but we rarely see each and every moment in our lives as precious. Time is a gift that is gone as soon as it arrives.

In my early twenties, I was terrified of forming lasting relationships. I was afraid that I would get hurt through rejection, abandonment or betrayal. And as I developed my first long-term relationship, I believed profoundly that I did not have the strength to survive in this world on my own.

It was the perfect trap.

As that relationship developed, it became a hideous disfigurement of what love and friendship should be. The person on the other side of that relationship worked out early on what my inner fears were, and could therefore manipulate every shared situation for their own satisfaction. It became a living nightmare of emotional abuse.

I realized that I had traded the bullying of my childhood for the bullying of my adulthood. Worse, I knew what was happening but I was powerless to escape. Or so I thought.

Of course, there may be many other circumstances that keep you in your prison. The fear of financial ruin, the fear of losing the relationships with your children and your friends. The fear of failure, of humiliation, of starting something new from the beginning. But most of those fears are entirely unfounded, often planted by the very person and situation from which we want to escape.

It took the exposure of betrayal for me to finally muster the strength to leave. And looking back from where I sit now, I am sorry that I did not break out so much sooner.

Actually, we must never see time as wasted. Time is gone and we cannot get it back. You should only look back to help you see your way forward.

You may be in a loving, perfect relationship. But you may not be fulfilled in other ways. Your ambitions, your passions, your self-realization.

Try picturing yourself as you truly want to be. How you should be. Imagine every detail of how you feel, how you are standing, how you are dressed, where you are. Think of the people around you and how they are reacting to you, the positive things they are saying about you.

Now think about why you cannot make that picture come true. Break down every wall, every bar on the window, every lock that is keeping you imprisoned. Even small steps towards the door are better than sitting in your cell. It’s time to free yourself.

Don’t let this world bury you alive.

Burn the Ghost

Mum rushed my sister to the doctor. Not just because she tried to kill herself with the bread-knife but also because she said there was a ghost that came into her bedroom at night and could get inside her head if it wanted to.  And then there were those things that weren’t even alive that were waiting for her in the darkness. One was a color. Another was the water streaming perfectly from a tap. They were evil and wanted her to die.

That’s why the doctor said she should take up a hobby and gave her a prescription for Valium. She took up painting. And since we didn’t own a camera to take a photo, she painted a picture of the ghost that came into her room in the night.

And we all stood together in the kitchen when she brought the painting down from her bedroom to show us. But she should have warned us. Someone should have warned us.

Mum said the time had come. She had known for a while that we needed God’s help. It couldn’t wait a minute longer. So she visited the reverend and he said he was not empowered to make decisions about exorcisms. But he could start by having us all hold hands in the kitchen and recite the 23rd Psalm.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

And he told my Mum to burn the painting. For the love of God, burn it now. So I helped Mum build a fire and we watched the oils bubble and burst on the canvas. But secretly I knew that the ghost could not be burned.

And I was right. Here I am today. And that ghost lives right behind me, just out of sight.

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