Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Time Travel

I am a time traveler. I am lucky. I can go back and forth and examine my history, my past.. I can travel through geography—that’s easy.  More importantly, I have maintained enough contacts to enable me to visit past relationships. All that are significant.  I am lucky.

Most of the people and the places are still around, and I have the resources to enter this portal and to interact again. 

Predictably, relationships proved the most emotive. But this time around I had an agenda.  Or an agendum, one question: What is your view of our past relationship?…and then just sit back and listen. That’s was the hard part. 

I wanted to understand the other person’s perspective. In some cases, it was the first time that I listened to the other side. It proved a mirror, reflecting an image of myself without my intervening narrative.It is not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear.

Repeating this process, back and forth, until I covered a 35 year time span. I was ready for the answer. By touching on all significant relationships I felt that I deserved an epiphany.

But there were no epiphanies. But I still felt that I deserved one. 

My six month sabbatical is coming to an end and I wanted to tie it all together. There was a slow realization that what I needed to hear, I knew already.  And the words of the great poet Omar Khayyam entered my life again. “Alike for those who for today prepare, And those that after a tomorrow stare, A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries "Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!" and I am left where I was, but now I know where I was. And I treasure what I had, and can still have.

I realized that relationships are the warp threads in my life. We somehow resonated together. I can live through their experiences and they can live through mine. Empathy, love, and sometimes humor.  In life there are threads that form the basis of memory, the warp threads in a weave. Warp threads are the ones that run vertical to the loom. 

The other experiences are hinged upon this thread and run parallel. The warp thread holds the weaving still while the weft threads are being woven in. The weft are the nuances: Cutting fresh bread at my parent’s home where I was born, eating a wedding ice cream wedge, sharing a bright ale in a local pub, smelling wood fires early in the morning, and geography.

What was unpredictable was the emotion attached with geography. Geography is more comfortable than with people. Geography doesn't confess hidden secrets. They loved me, I loved them, I cheated, they cheated, lies that we told each other that we now confessed. Bastard children, hidden births, abortions, lost pregnancies, failed marriages. Hidden then, and now in the safety of age, exposed. 

Geography does not lie, it is always there and you just missed it before. Geography is true, and yet, I still had to listen, I still had to look and become an active interpreter. But with geography there is no ego, there is no hurt. Running on the tow paths of the Kennet and Avon canal, despite  the cold snap in the early morning, yesterday’s rain that muddied the path staining my bright clean running shoes, I felt at home. 

Running along the narrow path, mile after mile, with vistas opening up to me at every corner it exposed me again to why I love the British countryside. The tranquil existence of canal life, calm waters, neatly contained by the canal walls, narrow boats and the ancient trees that envelope the smooth clear liquid path. This experience is what gives color to my life, the pattern.
Some writers talk about either the weft while others talk about the warp. Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia concentrates on the warp, on people, writing far less about geography than one would expect from a travel writer.

My epiphany did not come from my past relationships, but from my present ones. The realization that I will have fewer warps then wefts in my life made me think about the significant people in my life that tie my experiences together. People, and more accurately, close friends, children and family that build up my tapestry as warp threads are the lasting structures.

I am planning my next time travel hoping to strengthen my warps. Warp speed and time travel go together.  

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