Time travel with home videos and anesthesia

Time travel has been a reliable staple of science-fiction books and movies for as long as I can remember. It’s easy to see why.

We can’t help but be intrigued at depictions of possible futures, be they utopian, dystopian, or somewhere in between. Similarly, depictions of the past, with period garb, language, and technology (or lack thereof) are also fascinating in many ways.

Alternate realities as depicted in time travel are just so much fun to contemplate. But is time travel even possible? Maybe it isn’t. But maybe it is.

According to the brilliant Albert Einstein, when you get close to the speed of light, weird things really do start happening. I’ve studied the theory of relativity quite a bit, and if you believe (and you should) that everything is indeed “relative,” there certainly can be periods when time speeds up or slows down, depending on your point of view.

Seek out any good physics course or teacher to expand on this. It truly is mind-blowing in many ways. Einstein really was a genius. While I’m not as smart as he was (not many of us are), I’ve actually discovered how to time travel, both to the past and to the future, and I do both on a fairly regular basis. I really do.

Let’s start with time travel to the past. Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was born, the home-video revolution was just beginning with the advent of VHS [Video Home System] tapes. Remember those?

Portable VHS video-cameras were very expensive at the time, yet I badly wanted to record my daughter’s one-year-old birthday party, so I rented one. Later, when prices came down, I bought my own. Though I’m not a very good videographer or even photographer, looking back at those old movies is indeed like going back in time.

Imagine popping in an optical disk and seeing yourself over 30 years ago. (I copied all the old VHS tapes to DVDs [Digital Versatile Discs] in the hope that they’ll last longer in that format.) In my case, that means I’m looking at a surprisingly handsome guy with thick, curly black hair and about 30 or more pounds less than I am now.

Seeing this lean, mean, carousing machine “back in the day” truly is mind-boggling. In all of human history, we baby boomers are the first ones who have this ability to go back in time and look at ourselves, our families, and the world like this. It really is amazing on so many levels.

When you are raising kids, you are so busy with the day-to-day business of just surviving with them it’s easy to forget what it was like. Thanks to these videos, my family and I can go back and watch many of our happiest moments, and some plain ordinary ones too.

I remember at the time many family members would give me grief when I pointed the camera at them, some more so than others. But now, when we have family get togethers, those same ones will beg me to put on the videos so we can all have a good laugh. They couldn’t stand it then but love it now. Isn’t that something.

The best part of watching the videos is just to see the changes in all of us over the years. My wife and I get a little older and a little grayer as the time flies by, while the kids grow up right before our eyes.

These videos, of often just normal events like going to the beach or opening Christmas presents, are so important now that, if the house were burning down, I think these are the first things I’d grab as I ran outside. To be able to time travel to the past by watching these videos — how could you ever replace that?

Now let’s talk about time travel to the future which, now that I’m aging, I do more and more of it seems.

As you get older, there are various tests, procedures, and even surgeries that you need from time to time. I consider myself to be in excellent health overall, yet I’ve had three surgeries in the past few years.

That’s when you find yourself in a hospital wearing one of those stupid gowns that opens in the back, constantly trying to not to give everyone a show. Soon you are lying on a gurney, talking to a pretty nurse, with an intravenous feed going into your veins.

As the anesthesiologist tells you what’s going to happen you nod and say yes — what else can you do — and then the nurse and the orderlies start wheeling you into the operating room. At these times, when you’re lying on your back captive like that, just staring at the ceiling, I often wonder how long it will be before they have ads up there like they do almost everywhere else, haha.

By the way, the nurses are always named Jessica, yet when I ask them if they’ve heard the classic rock anthem “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band they always look at me like I have two heads. How can you be named Jessica and not know that song? This is usually the last thought I have before it happens, “it” being time travel to the future.

Yes indeed, time travel to the future most certainly occurs in these moments: One minute you’re talking to Jessica the nurse, the next minute — which may be many hours later — you are in the recovery room, just like that.

When this happens, I can never believe it. I always tell myself I’m going to try to notice when I start to fade out, just to see if I can get some kind of control over the process. Good luck with that.

When you wake up in “the future,” you have no memory of anything they did to you. You could have been out for minutes, hours, or days and you would not know the difference. Now that really is time travel, if you ask me.

Imagine being able to buy the drugs that allow time travel like this. Say you know the weather is going to be bad for the next few days, or your relatives are coming to stay, or maybe you just can’t wait for a certain party or holiday. Pop a pill and, boom, you wake up in the future just like that.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way, and anesthesiologists go through plenty of schooling and certification to make sure each person gets just the right amount of the drug to keep you out for the right amount of time. What a fascinating thing, that they can do this as well as they can. I’ve had it done to me several times now and it never gets old.

There are a couple of other ways to time travel. Married men especially will know about this one. Most wives have the superpower of being able to recall, in excruciatingly vivid detail, every misstatement, faux pas, mistake, and stupid thing you’ve ever said or done, even when these things happened decades and decades ago.

These incidents are recalled in such detail and with such regularity that it may as well be considered time travel. They say an elephant never forgets. I wonder if it’s all elephants or just the lady ones?

Another way to time travel is by writing something that will be read by others later. When I read books, especially the classics, it’s like going back in time in many ways.

A good writer — Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Joyce, Tolstoy, et. al. — can so thoroughly immerse you in the past it’s like time travel. That’s how powerful good writing is. In fact, if it’s 100 years from now and you’re reading this in your flying car, please keep your eyes on the sky ahead of you. You never know what’s behind that next cloud.

Time travel is a wonderful concept to contemplate and enjoy. The fact that we can do it ourselves in many ways makes it all the better.