Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Backward, Turn Backward

Though I couldn’t find it, I distinctly remember a poem beginning “Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight….” (Some credit it to a woman named Elizabeth Akers Allen, of whom I’d otherwise not heard.) [Dorien is right: you can read the poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52071/rock-me-to-sleep]

I had a dream the other night where time had begun running backwards. I emerged backwards from sleep one evening and began moving backward through the day. And with each moment I moved backward, my memory of what then became the future disappeared. I had full memory of the past, of course, and was aware of what was happening.

Dreams being what they are, I accepted this as perfectly natural. I knew that I would eventually move backward through my cancer recovery, treatment, and symptoms until I emerged from that period able to eat again: to actually eat and chew and taste and swallow and take a huge bite out of a Big Mac, and look up at a passing airplane, and be totally oblivious to what lie ahead. I would continue to move backwards from Pence to Los Angeles, to my mom’s dying in the hospital to her cancer disappearing to my dad’s being alive again, to my original years in Chicago, to graduating from college, go back into the navy, enlist in the NavCads, graduate from high school…well, you get the idea.

It was really a most interesting dream, but it reminded me that, as much time as I spend dwelling on the past in these blogs and elsewhere, for all the wonderful things I would re-experience while moving back through time, there would also be an incredible amount of pain. The fact that it would be experienced backward would be of some comfort (if I were still aware what was happening) since whatever heartache or physical pain I was going through would always get better and eventually disappear completely. But pain is pain no matter in which direction you’re moving through it.

Things would get easier and easier as time regressed. Fewer and fewer major problems. More and more reliance on the love and protection of parents and family. And eventually, in moving backward in time, would come to the point of reentering that place where babies go before they are born. It is exactly the same place, I believe with all my heart, that we go when, moving forward through time, we however reluctantly, reach the end of our allotted time on earth. And I think that I have never really been afraid of death. We came from nothing, we return to nothing. And how can one fear nothing?

I’m not quite sure why I seem to take so much pleasure—which I must or I wouldn’t be doing it—in speculating on the impossible. But I find “what if?” to be among the most fascinating of phrases. I suppose it is another reflection of the fact that I really have never been satisfied with the way things are, and always want…and often truly ache for…what I cannot have.

So I spend endless hours in the attic of my mind, sitting cross-legged on the dusty floor, opening boxes of long-sealed memories and watching tiny spiders in the rafters spin dreams. Each provide me with an endless supply of “never was” and “never could be” to contemplate and play with. But while I fully realize that I can never have all those things that I so desperately want, it certainly doesn’t stand in the way of my wanting them.

And so contemplating having time move backward is just another exercise in the game of “what if?” But it’s a fun game.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com. You can find information about Dorien's books at his web site:  www.doriengrey.com

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