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Tunneling Through Time

October 2, 2011

The Time TunnelWhen I was 13 years old, I was a fan of a science fiction TV show called The Time Tunnel.  The basic premise was that the Time Tunnel (with its mesmerizing black and white swirled interior) was a corridor that stretched through ‘the time continuum’, with portals that provided access to any moment in history.  It apparently worked on the principle that all points in time – past, present and future – are ‘alike’ and therefore not adversely influenced by any changes that might be made by time travelers.

James Darren (left) and Robert ColbertIn the pilot episode, the project is at risk of being shut down due to cost overruns, so one of the show’s intrepid heroes (physicist Dr. Anthony Newman, played by James Darren – who I had a small crush on at 13) turns on the machine and heads off into the past (he ends up on the Titanic). He’s soon followed by Dr. Douglas Phillips (played by Robert Colbert) and the two become (to quote the opening monologue for all the shows that followed), “lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages … tumbling helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time.” Because the system hadn’t been perfected before they set out, they can’t get back – but they do keep hopping from time to time and place to place (a new one each week), arriving (naturally) at key junctures in history (fortunately for them, the people back in the lab can see them and – occasionally – lend them a helping hand).  The show only ran for one season and unfortunately the storyline was never wrapped up – so I suppose poor old Tony and Doug are still out there somewhere (or should I say ‘sometime’) forty five years later.  

I always thought it would be neat to have access to a Time Tunnel.  And while I sort of like the premise that going back (or forward) in time would have no impact on my existing ‘reality’, I’m not quite sure that I buy into it.  If I went back to 1939, for example, and prevented my parents from marrying, would I even exist? And if I travelled forward in time and knew, for instance, the circumstances of my own death, could I try to change things now to prevent it from happening?  Hard questions – with no real answers!  So – I wouldn’t want to use a Time Tunnel to change my past (since everything that’s happened before has brought me to this point in my life, which I’m pretty happy with), or to see what’s ahead in my future.  I’d use a Time Tunnel simply to revisit those times in my life that I didn’t pay quite enough attention to while they were happening.

Live In The NowWe’ve all heard the advice (or ‘mantra’ for some), “Live in the Now” (because, let’s face it, the ‘now’ is all there is – when the past was happening, it was happening ‘now; whatever takes place in the future will take place ‘now’).  The idea of ‘being present’ is a good one – I can’t argue with that – but how many of us can manage to do it? How many ‘great moments’ have we let pass us by because we were busy worrying about something that happened earlier (in the day, week, month, year, lifetime) or what’s going to happen later (in the next few minutes, hours, days, etc.)  It’s HARD to remain in the ‘now’ most of the time (about the only time I can honestly say I manage to clear my mind and completely and thoroughly enjoy the ‘present moment’ is (a) when I’m at the beach, or (b) when I’m meandering down country roads on the back of a motorcycle). 

One of my very favourite commercials is one for Lexus (the luxury automobile) – a fellow is driving through the desert and suddenly realizes he’s in ‘the perfect moment’ – everything slows down (until, of course, his mind switches to thinking, “I wonder what’s for dinner tonight?” (watch it on YouTube).   If I had a Time Tunnel at my disposal, I would travel back and relive key moments of my personal history – just the way they were – only this time I’d slow them down and really pay attention in a way I didn’t when I was experiencing them the first time. I’d create those ‘perfect moments’.

At The Cottage 1963Off the top of my head (and this certainly isn’t a comprehensive list), I’d start with the summers (1959 – 1964) our family spent at the cottage. It wasn’t very far out of town, it had partitions instead of wall between the (two) bedrooms and the living area (open living/ dining/ kitchen), no running water (ergo: an outhouse and regular trips to a nearby park to get drinking water), and creaky metal spring bed frames in the screened-in porch that my sister and I had to sleep on (in our sleeping bags).  In other words – it was AWESOME!  We wore bathing suits almost every day, swam in the lake, explored the rock strewn beach, played in the woods or the huge yard, read endlessly, walked to the store for popsicles, unstuffed and washed our teddy bears (we hung the ‘pelts’ on the clothesline and restuffed them when they were dry), ate sugary cereal for breakfast and corn on the cob for dinner, and stayed up late watching (black and white) TV shows all squeezed together on the old fold out couch.  My very best memories of my pre-teenage life are of those summers at the cottage. I’d love to go back and experience it all again!

The Summer of 1969Next up, I think, would be the summers of 1968 and 1969. I had no idea at the time (who did?) that they would represent such pivotal years for me.  I met so many people, went so many places, did so many things (and – surprisingly – got into very little trouble) that I don’t remember a lot of it (or, at least, not clearly;  you know what they say about the 60s – if you remember them, you weren’t there!)  As much as I cringe at the thought of once again wearing my 60s wardrobe (particularly my favourite pink bellbottoms and that purple leather miniskirt I just had to have), I think I’d better understand some of the decisions I made later in life if I could go back and focus just a little more carefully on the things that were going on around me during those summers.

Generic Hawaii PhotoI definitely would also like to relive my 1980 trip to Hawaii, because – honestly – beyond the endlessness of a 9 hour direct flight, the overcrowded beach at Waikiki, the fresh pineapples we brought back, and the incident at the airport where they ‘almost’ forgot to refuel our ‘island hopper’ plane before takeoff – I remember very little about it.  There are probably lots of reasons why that is, but it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip that is mostly a big blank (and since my ex got the holiday photos in the divorce settlement, I don’t even have pictures to look at to try to stir my memories).  I’d like to ‘fill in the gaps’ between the vague snippets of lush greenery, endless beaches, and hula dancers with some of the finer details.  So – revisiting Hawaii would be a good trip to retake.

My Boys When They Were LittleIt goes without saying that there are hundreds (thousands?) of moments when the boys were young that I’d like to experience again.  “The days are long but the years are short” is so true when your children are little, and all the times I claimed “I’ll never forget this” have just sort of jumbled together in my mind (although at least there I have lots of photos to help sort some of it out). If I could go back and relive those years, I’d stop to really pay attention to each of the special moments (and probably shed a few tears along the way when I realize just how precious each and every one of them was).

I’d revisit the spring of 2000 over and over and over again, and ‘freeze frame’ my wedding day in 2003.  There are lots of other moments spent with my husband that bear repeating, as well.

I suppose I could go on and on – if I had a Time Tunnel I could spend time again with people I’ve loved, people I’ve lost, and people who just sort of slipped out of my life.  I will honestly admit that I’d skip all the ‘bad’ times and only rejoice in reliving the ‘good’ ones – but I’d do it all a little slower and with much more attention to the details.  After all, those perfect moments are the ones that ultimately led me to … the other side of 55.

My Time Tunnel

Where would I go and who would I visit if I had my very own TIme Tunnel?

  1. October 2, 2011 8:46 pm

    Living in the Now is a very good rule. It is also very difficult!

  2. Cathy Hendrix permalink
    October 2, 2011 8:14 pm

    I really enjoyed this one Margo – your summers at the cottage sound absolutely wonderful. It stirred up memories in my past, just hearing about yours. And I know that I’ve forgotten so much more than I remember which is sad. You’re right though, photos certainly help, especially because sometimes I have a hard time visualizing people’s facial features. It’s something that had always frustrated me. I certainly agree that I’d like to re-visit and slow down certain times in my life.

    • October 3, 2011 9:56 am

      Sometimes I think our memories become ‘tainted’ through time (we remember things differently from how they really happened); faces are the same. Going back to relive some of it might help ‘fix’ that (although I’m half afraid some of ‘great’ things I remember might not have actually been so ‘great’ at the time!)


  3. October 2, 2011 7:23 pm

    That is an intriguing thought. I have thought along the way, we may never have a time tunnel since those in the distant future don’t seem to have visited us…or have they? A conundrum to say the least, but fun to fantasize about. Thank you for sharing your precious memories.

    • October 3, 2011 9:58 am

      Perhaps someone ‘out there’ has figured out a way to visit the past and WE are now part of THEIR memories!


  4. October 2, 2011 6:37 pm

    I love your summer vacation! Thank you for sharing it so vividly.

    • October 2, 2011 6:54 pm

      Just writing about it made me relive it all over again!


  5. October 2, 2011 4:39 pm

    You made me stop! You made me be in my present! That’s good. My daughter is 1.5. “The days are long but the years are short” – I can’t tell you how true it is! Thank you!

    • October 2, 2011 4:52 pm

      Enjoy her while she’s young – children grow far too quickly. I’m glad you had the chance to stop and enjoy the moment.


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