Personal Time Machines · 27 August 2016

I had an amazing revelation this summer. We all have our own personal time machines.

I had a chance to see a bunch of relatives this summer, some of whom I have not seen in decades. I even met a few who I had not met before. Spouses and children of cousins. It was wonderful meeting them and getting to know them. And seeing them all made me realize that we all have our own personal time machines.

Our bodies are time machines traveling ever forward in time. We can only keep moving in that direction and getting older. And hopefully, wiser. But our minds are another thing. Of course, we can dream and create. But we can also use our minds as personal time machines where we can move forward, backward, or even sideward in time. And space.

I thought about these personal time machines when I saw two of my cousins, Julian (pronounced Who-Lee-On) and Yankuics (Yawn-Kweek). I had not seen them in many years before this summer. Maybe even a couple decades. At any rate, we were all much younger then. We did not spend lots of time together because they lived far away in Mexico with their mom, my Auntie Fumi. In fact, one of my most vivid memories of them is actually a conversation with my aunt.

It was also the conversation that started me thinking about personal time machines (way back when).

I am not sure of the exact date of our conversation, but I know it was a while ago. Auntie Fumi and my cousins could actually give a better estimate of when it happened because of the things happening in their lives. At any rate, we were just talking about her kids. My cousins. She said that they were both pursuing their doctorates in their fields.

I was flabbergasted. “They can’t be getting their doctorates.”

“Why is that?” she wondered a little defensively.

Of course, I was not insulting their intelligence (they are after all, my cousins). So I explained my shock. “Because they are so young. Three and sixteen. Or something like that.”

She laughed a little. And then I explained my thought process. In my mind, my cousins were the same age I last saw them. I had not seen Yankuics since he was very young. Maybe the first time we met when he was three or four. I remembered Julian from that time too (he was and still is a few years older than his brother), but I had also seen him since then. I had seen him years later when he was a teenager living with one of our uncles. In my mind, he was still that teenager, just as his brother was still that toddler. That was why I could not see them pursuing such higher education. They were stuck at the ages I last saw them. At least in my mind. That was why it took a little time for my mind to catch up. My cousins had aged just like I had. I just had not seen them do the aging.

Well to make a short story a little longer, that conversation led to my eventual thought about our personal time machines. And this summer, I finally wrapped my head around it. Julian and Yankuics went from toddler and teenager to adults in mere seconds. Their pictures in my mind changed, and my personal time machine skipped ahead from the past to the present.

I know that our personal time machines are not perfect. Memories fade or change. Some even get more vivid with time. But regardless of whether we take trips often or seldom, we can travel back in time with our minds. I guess that is the wonderful thing about being human. Our bodies are simple time machines that only go forward. But our minds can travel in time and space to whenever or wherever we want.

Hopefully, most of us are not stuck in the past or future. But if we are, all we need to do to be anywhere anytime is to close our eyes and travel there in our personal time machines. Just remember though, the present is the only place your bodily time machine can ever be (where it is good to have your eyes open). Still, it was amazing to discover that we all have our own personal time machines.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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