“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
― George Harrison
In contrast to the tiny limbs of my five year old and the gaps in his still growing body of knowledge, I often experience the illusion that I am an adult. I mean, sure, as I skid to the end of my thirties this coming August, and the fact that no one cards me at Trader Joe’s for wine anymore (okay, or at restaurants), do stack up to mean “adult” in physical years. But I experience so many emotions throughout the day that suggests parts of me are, in fact, living across a vast spectrum of ages. Like when I snapped with childlike annoyance at my son because he demanded to know the difference between a sweater and a sweatshirt (now that I think about it, it is almost an existential question), or when a vague post on Facebook hit my shame spot, felt like it was aimed right at me, or when a prickly guilt settled in that I’m a bad daughter for being unable to help my mom who just had foot surgery even though I live two hours away.
It helps to know that we are not one single person but a series of selves, all of our ages, all our history, assembled together into one unified experience of a self. The version that is here, now. I read a lot of literature about “the present moment”—Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield… Bear with me, I know this lingo reeks of new-age over simplification, but when you stop and really look at what the authors are saying, you realize that the present moment truly, really, deeply is all that we have. Right now. And right now. And right now. Sweatpants and Coffee’s illustrious founder, and my friend, Nanea, is always one to remind me when I’m projecting anxiously into the past or hanging on with crippling intensity to the past: “You’re time traveling, Jordan.”
We all time travel; we can’t help it. All those shadow selves are still inside us, pressed behind our skin. Some of them we’ve worked through in therapy and confessions to friends, through yoga and exercise, with wine and good books. But traces of the past always remain. We are all subject, at any time, to this time warp.
And it’s true. When I learned in March that my godmother had passed back in September and I’d never been notified by her husband, you can bet I was thrust right back in time scrabbling to think when was the last time I talked with her? What did I say? And the thud to the heart as I realized: I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. But, as my friends and husband have reminded me, I still can. You still can. Even if it’s only to the sky as I stand in my garden, or the blank, patient pages of my journal. It’s what’s left inside you, after all, that counts.
Just as you can catch yourself as you turn into a cranky, frustrated toddler when something doesn’t go your way. I find it helpful to identify the age you’ve gone to (and yes, you can move forward in time to cranky, anxious curmudgeon too, you know) and put your own younger self on your knee and say the same sorts of things you might tell your children or a friend: “Hey, it’s okay. We’ll figure this out.”
Time travel is only fun in the movies: