So I woke up in the middle of the night pondering the concept of the space-time continuum. Yikes!
I sat up and turned on the light, suspecting that I was caught in a Woody Allen film and expecting to see Woody perched at the foot of my bed mumbling his brand of neurotic psycho-babble. “What is the meaning of life?” “Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and it’s all over too soon.” “What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream? “Will somebody please explain olive loaf and why?”
Why would I wake myself up talking about a theory of physics when I had been, moments before, dreaming about landscaping the troublesome patio area around my house. Go figure?
This space-time theory thing disturbed me, of course, as I turned off the light and punched my pillow, and then attempted to nestle back down. I understood that, every moment of my life—each and every experience—is happening simultaneously. This is disturbing, don’t you think? because I am reliving my mistakes—that wrong turn, that fall down the stairs, those regrettable words—I’m repeating them over and over again, and am destined to repeat them for eternity! These miserable experiences are never in my past; they are always in my present—and future. Oy! The mistakes, the bad hurtful times are continually playing out. Like a nightmare! I still have a crush on that gawky boy in high school who wants nothing to do with me, and I am still almost drowning in the undertow at Jones Beach on the fourth summer of my life. Forever suffering loses and reeling from the big and small betrayals from people who professed to love me . . . .
But along with the bad experiences there exist, too, the precious moments that I cherish and which linger out there in time and space; those peak experiences which were, are, will be the product of pure harmony and love. Like me and Mama eating frozen custard at the lunch counter at Gertz’s Department Store and Saturday mornings with Papa vegetable shopping in the outdoor markets under the El in Jamaica, Queens—lemon ice, pumpkin seeds and sesame cookies. Walks with him to the big tree on the hill in the woods across from our house. Secure in the warm affection of my big sisters, constant comforts in my life. I am still sitting down at Sunday dinner after church with the whole family. My brother’s return home from the army makes still makes me happy. The births of my children, seeing their first smiles, watching them take their first steps . . . Mama, Papa, Richard . . . .
Oh, my! I sound like a monologue from Our Town!
As I snuggled down into my pillow, I also realized that the bad times make the good times feel even more precious. Now, if only I could manage to control the flow of my consciousness through the space-time grid, I could linger happily within the embrace of my long-gone loved ones. I could linger in the pleasant feelings when I was a kid pretending I was the invincible Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and later, as a mother, cheering with joy from the bleachers at my kid’s first home run in Little League. Relying on memories alone is sometimes like watching an old, faded silent film, two-dimensional and shadowy . . . . Photographs and videos only make me melancholy because they seem to stretch the distance from the present day back to the event: You can’t quite break through to the past; you can’t reach out and touch it. I become mesmerized for hours sorting through boxes of old family photographs. I am aware of the dangers of living in the past, but I am who I am because of my past. I learned as an actress to “be present in the moment”, and that lesson served me well on stage. In day-to-day living, I try to be conscious of the exercise. Although Now is all-consuming, and I am aware of the space-time continuum thing, I am left to perpetually ponder, what have I done tomorrow?
It’s lovely to imagine—to believe!—that I’m still out there dancing cheek to cheek with that special someone.
Until next time,