My dad is a great storyteller, and when I was little he often read to me. He also told me stories about growing up on a farm, and going to school in a one-room school house in Illinois. He told me about being a Peace Corps volunteer, and traveling around the world. From 1968 to 1972, his assignment took him to Tunisia, Thailand, the Philippines, and many other countries. He coached athletes for international track and field competitions. He traveled with the Philippine delegation to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
One of his old Peace Corps buddies recently went back to Thailand. He was disappointed to find how much it had changed. It wasn’t the same. The Thailand he knew was gone.
I’ve been thinking lately: We are all time travelers. We have all lived through times that no longer exist.
The world feels smaller, and perhaps more noisy, as populations grow and technology allows us to create, learn, and experience things with increasing speed and ease. The world we were born into no longer exists. The limitations and boundaries that shaped how we related to and connected with one another have shifted so much.
I noticed a woman on MUNI the other day. She had gray hair that hung in thick curls to her shoulders. She wore glasses and lip gloss. Her skin was clear and wrinkled. I thought she was beautiful. I also thought: She is a time traveler, and has experienced this world in a way I never will. I felt a certain respect and appreciation. Curiosity and love.
What’s neat is that I can look at people younger than me and think the same thing. The young ones who grew up with iPhones, internet, and a thousand TV channels are also experiencing this world in a way that I will not.
It’s amazing that we are all here in this moment, coming from different places, with our individual trajectories. We are all time travelers, and we happen to cross paths. Sometimes I want to go up to strangers and ask, Where have you been, and what have you seen? What do you know about this world? Tell me.
I want to write down what I know about the world — what I’ve lived and seen. Perhaps when I am an old woman I will enjoy reading about the adventures I had. Or perhaps someone else will read those words, and glimpse a moment from a life and a world that no longer exists.
Coincidentally, a friend with whom I recently reconnected has been thinking and writing about time travel, too. “A care giver’s tool kit for staying alive while dealing with death,” she writes. You can read more at Girl Quantum.