Time Travel

by Alyson Stonebraker


This late-winter morning (which is now past) my downward-dog-turned ears honed in on the instructor’s words: “Pay attention in each moment; we never know which ones will be creating our next memory. When we are fully present we get to fully experience life.” Neither the words nor the concept were new, but given what unfolded later that morning, the way I heard them evidently was.

I carry her words into the field where I walk most days with Elsie, my trusty four-legged, who chases cats for sport. Entering into NOW through the doorway of my senses, I am suddenly utterly enchanted by the concept of time; the exquisite interplay between present, past, future and the way these aspects of time are highlighted in living things, seamlessly knit together into now-ness.

With each step I feel hardened winter grasses bend with a crunch of resistance, then submit to the weight of my feet. Above, an ink-black crow issues urgent cries from tip-top branches covered in spring-green buds. Her constant enemy, hawk, sits authoritatively on a dead branch in the next tree, patiently awaiting a future meal of crow eggs. In an instant, this moment becomes past as the two ensue their daily circular chase, doubtless eons old.

Engrossed in this live food-chain drama I suddenly remember the dog. “Crap! Where is she?!” Since Elsie’s personality resides somewhere near the intersection of completely reliable and totally unpredictable, I figure I’d better re-determine her whereabouts. With only a slight turn of head I find her where she usually is: nearby, silently bent into a stalking crouch, utterly attuned to her keenest-of-keen senses; thoroughly immersed in her version of now, yet clearly in high anticipation of some near-future prize. Ten thousand years of DNA past expertly engineering her present.

Like a too-warm coat on an early spring day, I ditch present for past, remembering hawk & crow. An upward, blinding glance instead notes a 747. People headed jet-speed into certainly uncertain futures. Returning my gaze ten thousand feet below, a million small clusters of periwinkle weed-flowers (brave heralders of Spring-to-come) await either admirers or trample-ers with apparent ease.

We cross the concrete bridge over Briar Creek, where brick-colored water from last night’s pounding rain insists on hurrying toward it’s tomorrow, no time for looking back. Oddly, a pair of mallards (I’ve seen them 7 springs now) swims against this torrent while mottled leaves catch on rocks below. Presently, well – make that currently (pun intended) – like me, they seem doomed to repeat their fate – turning over and over and over in this same forsaken spot until a change of heart or some unseen hand nudges them on.

I end this lovely walk pondering how each of us, each aspect of creation, is a spectacular time machine, moving ceaselessly – sometimes at will, sometimes by force – backward, forward, back to present, then elsewhere on. All the while, a heavenly needle moves, weaving a thin blue thread of time back and forth, back and forth, and in circles, too. What a gift, what a present.