By GEORGE ROBERTSON, M.D.
What comes to mind when you hear that term? Maybe it’s a Star Trek episode when you can go forward or backward in time at the snap of your finger. But I'm here to tell you that we have all experienced time travel - it's not something in the future to be worked out by the smartest brains in science.
Einstein said that time is dependent on your rate of speed. This has been proven many times but it should have been something we all knew just from life itself. Do you remember how long it used to be from Christmas to Christmas when we were children? It seemed like an eternity that you would have to wait to get out of school in the summer. It was forever for your birthday to come around, or you got that bicycle that you had been wanting for a decade.
The reason time passed so slowly for children was that they were on the move. They were going somewhere at an incredible rate of speed. Looking ahead, darting from one activity to the other, was a way of life when you were young. There was never enough time in the day to get all the playing in. You were never ready to go to bed or come in from the yard at night.
Taking a bath was a death sentence because you could not be playing and getting things done. You didn't want to put on your coat to go outside because that activity would use up some of your precious minutes and take away from your pursuit.
The bike would never go fast enough or the hill be steep enough for the ride down. You were not only looking into the future, you are actively living into it.
By contrast, when you are my age the years roll around every 24 hours. I just took down the Christmas tree only to feel like I’m putting it up again. My birthday seems to be on a speed dial with the digits going up like 1/10th mile increments on the wheel of a speedometer. And the reason for the difference is because I'm not going anywhere. Instead of going forward I'm looking backward. Life no longer has the discoveries around every new corner that it had when I was a child.
When I think of my friends who have passed from this life and others who are hanging on with progressive diseases that will soon take them too, I see on the streets not the vibrant energetic souls, but a bunch of walking dead men.
Dead men walking. Actually that’s what we all are and there's no way around it. But I have learned with age a way to slow this process down. Use all your senses every moment. The admonition to stop and smell the roses has its roots in this truth. Because if you are smelling, you are using a function that is too often ignored. Take up a new hobby! Do something you've always wanted to do but just haven't gotten around to it. Learn something new every day.
Consciousness itself is a stream of connecting one awareness to another in a continuum of time. One sense is dominant in the process. But if all the senses are used (hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, learning) at the same time, then the continuum of existence is slowed six-fold. Experience is deepened so that time once again slows down.
So for the minutes or hours I may have remaining to me, I have determined not to wish for tomorrow or to dwell in the past. I'm planning to use every nano-second to squeeze all I can out of the juice of life.
Editor’s Note: Robertson is a physician with Family Medical Associates, PC. in Lebanon.