It’s a strange feeling, if you stop to think about it, knowing that you’re going to wake up in the future.
A million billion things will have happened while you passed the time horizontal, mind cryogenically frozen by the combination of dopamine and exhaustion, dreamily oblivious to the dramas and comedies passing by in the world at large.
It’s almost as if every time you go to sleep you’re missing a big part of the plot in the greatest story ever written, and though you can catch up with the plotline later, it’s not the same experiencing it on the Today show the next morning.
It’s like those US citizens who were in comas during 9/11. The world they woke up to was a drastically changed planet, and though they heard about what happened, because they weren’t conscious during the event itself, they don’t have that shared history and will forever be just a step out of sync with the rest of the post-9/11 world.
I get that feeling every time I go to sleep; wondering what plot twists I’m sacrificing for my nightly dose of Z’s.
Skipping a Chapter
I’m on a flight between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.
That feeling I just talked about? I’ve got it, but times 100. The lights in the plane have been extinguished, my fellow passengers have become darkness-enshrouded lumps up and down the aisles, like terra-cotta soldiers waiting for their chance to fight (or in this case, watch more in-flight movies).
I know that just as soon as I join their ranks I’ll wake up, moderately refreshed, contact lenses a bit dry, mere hours away from a continent I’ve never set foot on. The people there will speak my language, but the culture will be different, the customs will be unfamiliar and I’ll be in a strange place again after several weeks of familiarity, visiting with friends, family and clients in the US.
There’s an anticipation, of course, but there’s also a certain hesitation that I haven’t felt since I started the Exile Lifestyle project. It’s not that I’m regretting leaving, or even dreading my time in Oceania (the opposite, actually).
No, what I’m really missing is the transition. Getting to see how it all comes together. As a big-picture person, I like to know how all the moving pieces work, what goes on behind the scenes and how everything got to be the way it is.
I like to know the whole story, bar-none. Otherwise I drive myself crazy trying to fill in all the missing pieces.
This is part of why I prefer buses, trains, or cars to planes when going someplace new. I get to watch the geography, people and climate change as I pass through space. Not so on a plane. On a plane I get to watch Ben Hur and select music videos.
Looking Back from the Future
I imagine it’s something like traveling into the future. I’m pretty sure that the first thing I would request after stepping out of a time machine would be a detailed history of what happened in the time between where I came from and where I ended up. It seems like in stories where this kind of thing takes place, it’s what the protagonist doesn’t know about what happened in that interim that gets them into trouble, and frankly that’s just not a risk I’m willing to take.
So as I sit here drifting, ruminating about consciousness as I lose mine, I can’t help but wonder over the fact that there are so many people who live in the present but still know nothing about how their present came to be.
I’m not talking about Mesopotamia or the Ancient Greeks or anything like that, I’m talking about even their own personal history. How does a person change over time? What choices have led to what results? If you could change anything about your past, would you, and what would it be?
What will you do differently in the future? And will you be conscious of the consequences?
Goodnight. I’ll see you in the future.
Update: December 11, 2016
Oh wow, I still think about that all the time: how I would absolutely want a detailed history of what happened between when I hopped in the time machine, and where I landed.
Why don’t they work that into time travel plots? Seemed like a natural first-step, to me. Go to the damn library, or access the internet (or future-equivalent) and figure out what’s what. C’mon people. It’d be interesting, not just useful. And if that’s not interesting to you, you probably shouldn’t have stepped into the time machine to begin with.