The title of this blog comes from the BBC TV Show, Doctor Who. It’s the technical term for what a Time Lord does.
“Previously”, I alluded to the concept of time travel. I want to develop this idea because we could use it, “right now”, to get through a difficult period of time. Pardon the anachronism. I’m about to show you that “right now” doesn’t have to be “right now”, at all.
Time travel is a favourite literary subject. The Time Traveller’s Wife. Time Tunnel. Stargate. Arrival.
Arrival was based on Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”, from Stories of Your Life and Others (Vintage Books, 2002): Louise Banks learns an alien language and is no longer bound by time. She can “remember” her entire life. Her “future” is as much a part of her “now” as her “past” is.
T. H. White does a similar thing in The Once and Future King: Merlin is born backwards in time. He is sad when Arthur meets him for the first time, because for Merlin, it is their last meeting. But because Merlin was born backwards, he is a great teacher for Arthur because he can “remember” the future that Arthur is about to embrace.
You can do this too. You can remember your future.
Here’s what to do:
1. Get comfortable and find a place where you won’t be disturbed. You don’t want to scare anyone when you time travel.
2. Then again, you’re going to return to the exact moment that you left, so no one will notice, anyway.
3. But you want a quiet place.
4. If you are practising social distancing the way you should be, you have probably already found a quiet place. That’s great. So on we go…
5. Take a deep breath. Hold it for a moment. And as you let it out, let your eyes become heavy. Let them close.
6. Now open your awareness to your surroundings. In the “present” moment, right where you are, with your eyes closed, what can you “see”? Can you “see” the contents of the room you’re in, without looking?
7. Notice that you can extend your awareness in space. You can “see” yourself sitting there in your chair. Your eyes are closed. Your hands are resting comfortably in your lap.
8. You can step out of the room and see the next room, the front door, the street. You can travel in space. Cool, right? And this is just the warm-up.
9. Come back to your place. Imagine now that you are fixed in space. And travel in time. Eyes closed, sitting there relaxed, hands on lap. Your surroundings will change. No one will notice you. You are free to observe.
10. Imagine a clock. A clock that you can read. A clock that you can change with your mind.
11. Roll it back 24 hours. While you sit there, notice what happens. Maybe people come into the room: the ones who were in it yesterday. Maybe you see yourself there, doing what you were doing yesterday: talking to someone, reading a book, or playing a game.
12. Roll the clock back further. Notice the past as you sit there. There you are, last week, last month – last year. Fourth grade. Before the house was built. There you are sitting on your chair in field of grass, with dinosaurs grazing in the distance.
13. Roll the clock forward again. Come back to your “present”. Bring your awareness into your now. Keep your eyes closed. Still relaxed. Aware of your “here” and “now”.
14. You just took a trip back in time.
15. But we’re not finished. Eyes still closed. Comfortable and relaxed.
16. Go forward in time. Slowly. Roll the clock forward. You control the clock. Take your time.
17. Imagine that you are watching the news. Not all of it is good. There are however many surprising moments of grace and periods of relief. Notice that it’s not as bad as you feared.
18. Keep moving forward. Go forward several weeks from now. Maybe a month, maybe more. I don’t know how far you will go.
19. Notice how things are settling down. Getting back to normal. A new normal, perhaps, but more normal than your “present” was when you left it.
20. Notice your body relax, your breath come more easily. Notice the relief build with each passing day.
21. Keep moving forward, until everyone is well. The world is back to normal. On its old course. Maybe changed. Maybe a new normal.
22. Imagine yourself stepping out of your room, out of your home, out into the street, greeting your friends with hugs and handshakes again. Notice the strangeness of being able to touch others again, and how wonderful it feels.
23. Stay there as long as you like. Pay attention to the details. Commit them to memory.
24. When you are ready, take your time, and gradually increase your awareness of where you are sitting. Become aware of when you are sitting. Accept for the time being, that moment you call “now”, now that you know where you going. Smile. Wiggle your toes. Roll your shoulders. Shake out your hands. Open your eyes. Look at the room. Look at a clock. Look at a calendar.
25. Welcome back.
Now you have something that you didn’t have before.
You have the memory of what it will be like when all this is over.
You know your future. You were there.
Repeat as necessary until you are there.