Traveling Through Time
by Stephen Doherty
January 22nd, 2023
“The best way to predict your future … is to create it.” –Abraham Lincoln
“The Time Machine” with Rod Taylor, still haunts my memories and my imagination regarding the uncertainty of future events and our place among them. So many philosophical musings on the value (or not) of knowing what’s to come versus the always-present uncertainty of even the next few moments.
I remember an episode of The Twilight Zone where a gangster was shot and killed – waking up, to his surprise, in an eternal casino where he never lost, was never disagreed with, and where his every wish immediately came true. It didn’t take him long to realize that he was not in Heaven and that certainty around future events was the most torturous Hell imaginable. Uncertainty over what lies ahead, provides us the motivation to craft our futures by the lives we choose to live.
There are but a scant few human beings who have left behind indelible thumbprints on the annals of time. For every Lincoln, Edison, and Einstein – there are billions of other lives that have come and gone in the shadows of obscurity and anonymity.
At the end of the day, our lives are little more than cosmic flash bulbs – coming and going in an instant. Important only to those in our immediate universe and virtually forgotten in a generation or two beyond anecdotal “hand-me-down” stories and worn-out photo albums collecting dust in the attic. In the blink of an eye, our entire existence will be a handful of dust in the wind. Paradoxically, the sheer brevity of our being is what underscores its value.
My mother has been gone a while now but she had a compelling definition for “eternal life” that is more meaningful to me with each passing year. Days from her own departure, she was surprisingly upbeat for someone with terminal cancer.
She said, “hundreds of years from now, my life will continue to have meaning by the seedlings I left behind in the form of kindness, generosity, etc., that I passed along to you and your brother. This is how I plan on traveling through time – on the winds of the traditional values and lessons I have left behind that will continue to grow and multiply through those that my life touched.”
What could make more sense than that? Our lives need not be a brief flame that’s extinguished with our final breath. Rather, we can leave behind the seeds that grow into eternal plants that provide spiritual sustenance for the future generations of our families.
This reality gives our lives a priceless and undeniable purpose that only enhances our well-being in the current moment. We are crafting the tools that our future generations will use to sculpt their own destinies. Our lives will visit the future … albeit in a decidedly different form.
Virtually any study on human happiness is tied to the magnitude of the purpose our life represents. Not just to us in the moment, but throughout time to the future generations we have spawned.
What greater purpose is there in life than knowing that we lived it in a way that will equip and benefit our future families? How satisfying is the knowledge that if we could travel far into the future – there would still be recognizable signs of our existence? What greater pride could exist than knowing that our descendants will be crafting their own lives from the same toolbox handed off to us so many years before?
“Time does not pass, it continues.” -Marty Rubin