Time Travel and The Reality of Now

I’ve been wondering lately if there’s really such a thing as time. I say this because, for one thing, I realize it’s now, just like it’s always been. But more significantly, I’ve recently done some time traveling. Not the kind you see in the movies but the kind you do in your mind.

You see, my mom gave me the journal she kept when my siblings and I were kids. She thought it would be a great idea if I typed it up “for posterity” (we’ve always had trouble reading Mom’s handwriting; she can’t always read it herself).

I agreed to this task, though I thought it would take me to get through her writings. It took only a few days (hours really).

Moving Through Time

The time travel started in the late sixties, with the first comments she made about my sister and me (then toddlers). By the time I finished typing, I had reached the end of my first year of college. But all along the way, I was right there in whatever year I was transcribing on.

I relived things I don’t remember, like 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, like waiting for days for my cat to come home after he’d wandered off (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 forties 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 began reconnecting with people from grade school, high school, college, past jobs, and recent yoga classes on social media. It was if it was simultaneously 1970, 1978, 1985, 1995 and 2007. Weird. Really.

Time is How the Universe Watches Itself Unravel

I do wonder about the significance of time. Physicists say time is a measure of entropy. That is, it’s basically watching how messed up things get as it goes on. 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,” meaning 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.

At Some Point, We No Longer Need Time

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

The reality of time (and no time) is a lot to wrap our heads around, which is probably why we don’t. We’ll probably never know enough to see the future and we never be able to reconstruct the past — unless we read our mothers’ journals or join old friends on social media.

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