I’m sat at my desk, tapping away at my laptop, a sentence that itself would have probably got you arrested back in my childhood. That statement could not have meant anything normal back in the early seventies, a time you may you remember, when smoking was still cool, and a celebrity was, well someone with talent, or at least a really great moustache! Laptops were not even a glint in the designers eye, anymore than mobile phones or Nintendo. It was a truly different time.
Time, that’s what I meant to write about. Time, and the ability to travel through it. Impossible I hear you say. Sure, just like doing complex jobs on a computer the size of a folded newspaper would have been to that person in 1974. Perhaps not the same thing comparing a computer with the manipulation of accepted physical law, but I like to think that the impossible is really just the unknown waiting to be discovered.
But like it or not I have just experienced temporal displacement. It’s like a worm hole just opened up at my desk and I have been thrown back through time, bumping and bouncing through the highlights of my life to a fixed moment of clarity, but actually, there is no wormhole, I have just been listening to music.
At this moment Simon And Garfunkel singing the Sound of Silence is pulling me back to my childhood, memories of a long deceased uncle, days visiting his home with my Aunt and my Cousins, the slowly lost innocence of our childhoods spent together. I remember us as kids in New Zealand, their home in Redhill, which was really Red, and a Hill. Then back in the UK, staying at my Grandmothers with my cousin Marc (or Georgie as he was known then), sitting up all night playing poker and then getting busted smoking out of the windows in the early hours of the morning. For a few moments it is my mind that travels to that window sill across the raggedness of time, remembering the tiredness in our bodies, the sheer fun we had been having, and then us trying to look remorseful when we were finally caught and reprimanded. These are powerful and important memories for all of us today are different people than we were then, changed beyond recognition, and it;s good and healthy to remember how it once was and how our journeys really began
What I find most interesting is the way your emotions are shifted as your time frame is, how you remember feelings you had, the happiness, the pain, not always of an exact moment, sometimes just the smoothed out homogenised emotion of a decade or two, or the accumulated love of a relationship now spent. Every time frame you enter, every friend you remember, they bring a slightly different factor to the equation. There are times when I remember a very sad and lonely childhood, but with the right people, the people who really made you happy, the past can be seen through a different set of eyes, felt with different emotions, and the happiness and wonder of that time can be yours again. The slightest change can tear at you heart or suddenly fill you with joy.
It is called nostalgia I know, but it is the purest of emotions, drawn from the annuls of time, compounded memories flowing through the synapses, but sometimes taking you, just for a moment, back to that place, that time, that smell or sound, that emotion, just for a split second. You say it is memory, but I think it’s more than that, I think our minds, without the clumsiness of our physical bodies, can travel through time and sync with the mind of that day and for a moment or two we are part of that moment.
And that for me is time travel.
But none of it is possible without music, It is music that sets the soundtrack for your life, that captures the moments, the details, and stores them so that we may, with the right stimulation, travel back to experience that moment or two again so the lessons we learned are never forgotten. It was music I turned to during that first heartbreak, hours of listening to the same track repeating on the turn table, not to forget, but to enhance the pain, to feel the love I was losing. As it was music I listened to as I sat staring into the dark from the window of a Vietnamese train as I travelled across Asia. It was always music, it was always there, and at the right moment that music will take me back, of this I am sure, as it always has.
If you believe we are nothing without our bodies you probably stopped reading this about five paragraphs ago, but if you appreciate the true complexity of the mind, you have to wonder if I am right and time travel truly exists for us all. To quote Dumbledore, ‘of course its in your mind, but why does that make it any less real’.