Time Travel

I’ve been wondering lately if there’s really such a thing as time. I say this because, for one thing, I still feel like it’s now, just like it’s always been. But more significantly than that, I’ve recently had the opportunity to do some time travel. Not the kind you see in the movies but the kind you do in your mind. You see, my mother gave me the journal that she kept when my sister, my brother and I were kids. She thought it would be a great idea if I typed it up “for posterity” (no one’s ever been able to read Mom’s handwriting; she can’t even read it herself).

I agreed to this task, though I thought it would probably take me months to get through her writings. It took only a few days (hours really). I started in the late 60s, with the first comments she made about my sister and me (then toddlers). By the time I finished typing, I had finished my first year of college. But all along the way, I was right there in whatever year I was transcribing. It all took place within the span of a few days. I relived even the things I don’t remember – my first words, the day my little brother was brought home from the hospital, and the time my sister locked our Mom out of the house when she went outside to throw out the trash! I also relived things I do remember – waiting for days for my cat to come home (more than once), going to Middle School, getting my driver’s license, and the ear infection that led me to lose most of the hearing in my right ear.

For days after typing these “notes,” I felt as if I had never left my childhood home. I felt like my parents were still in their 40s and my grandparents were still on Earth. At the same time, I felt like I was still an adolescent and a young adult. Then I got the idea of adding old pictures to the document and the time travel became even more intense.

I had a similar experience with time travel when I joined Facebook. Suddenly I was reconnecting with people from grade school, high school, college, past jobs and recent yoga classes. All at the same “time,” it could be 1970, 1978, 1985, 1995 and 2007. Weird. Really.

I do wonder what the significance of time might be. Physicists say that time is a measure of entropy. That is, it is basically watching how messed up things get as “time” goes on. Hmmm. Apparently, at the beginning of time, things were not as messy as they are now. According to physicist Sean Carroll, time works much differently at the microscopic level. At that level, there apparently is no “arrow of time.” That is, time is no longer linear.

“If you do believe that the fundamental laws of physics are reversible then what you believe really is that information is conserved. So if you knew everything about the universe at one precise moment in time, in principle, you could turn a little crank and predict what the future would be like and reconstruct what the past would be like,” Carroll says.

No I don’t really understand that, but what it supposedly means is that if we knew everything about ourselves and the universe, there would no longer be such a thing as “free will.” In other words, you could say that if you knew everything about yourself and the universe, you would be God or creation or whatever it is that you are currently unable to understand. And then the concept of free will would no longer be necessary.

This is a lot to wrap our heads around, which is probably why we don’t. We will never know enough to see the future, and we will never be able to reconstruct the past – that is unless we read our mothers’ journals or join old friends on Facebook.

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