I've always had a fascination with time travel. Growing up, one of my favorite shows was "The Twilight Zone". There's an episode where the main character decides to go back in time to correct some things about our collective past. He attempts to thwart Hiroshima, kill Hitler and get Lusitania off course. All of his efforts are unsuccessful and he even plays a hand in a tragic event in his home town. He decides the past can't be altered and returned to the future.
During the mid 80s when "Back to the Future" hit, I was again intrigued by the prospect of going back in time. Since Marty McFly was only going back in time to correct his family's issues, I wasn't that big of a fan but the story line won me over. The movie made me feel as if one day the technology would allow me to hop through decades at some point.
The show that really sold me on the idea of time travel was "Quantum Leap". This show changed my perception of time. Because the main character was a governmental scientist, the writers/show creators did a great job of convincing me that there was classified technology that would allow people to leap into other time periods. I became fascinated with "leaping" to the 70's.
I was no big fan of history class in my academic studies. My grades school and high school history class teachers are not ones I remember (except the one from high school my classmates and I figured had a drinking problem but I digress). I don't recall ever getting really excited about the things that taught EXCEPT when we grappled the 70s. I was drawn in particular to 1976, the year of my blessed birth. I took pride in the fact that I was a "Bicentennial Baby," having been born in July 200 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. I always felt very patriotic due to when I was born. I wanted to leap back to the decade of my birth with my current level of intelligence to see just how much America had changed 200 years after the founders penned their intentions for this country.
Fast forward to present day. My fascination with time travel expanded not just to going back in time but to the possibility that time is non linear. I also got hip to the possibility that there's parallel universes and it's possible our souls are living multiple lives at once. These new theories and expanded possibilities of how I view time, made me begin to wonder, have I actually some how leaped back into the 70's? Clearly I know it's 2014, but I wonder if i'm currently living the 1970s experience I had imagined "leaping into"? Follow me now, here's where it gets interesting...
I grew up in a small town in Louisiana. When I visioned myself in the 70's I always figured I'd head West. I was into images of New York's "Studio 54", but always saw myself living in a warmer climate with the option of the beach. Additionally I always felt as if I would be better suited to Los Angeles. I've always wanted to work in entertainment and I was always fascinated by the variety in belief systems that seemed to come from West Coast'ers. The women from this time seemed beautiful, intelligent and not afraid to stand up for what they believed, whether it was racial or gender equality. I always wondered how I would have been in the past. Would I have been marching and protesting? Would I have been blowing shit up? Would I have been a Black Panther? Would I have been an academic or a politician making waves that way? Or would I have been a hippie dippie artist type, living life on the fringes but using my work to state my politics? And less poignant questions filled my head as well. I wondered would I rock an afro or cornrows or get fresh blowouts? Would I be super fit and baring my midriff or would I be super conservative?
As much as the country has advanced today, there are quite a few similarities to this current time and life in the 70s for American citizens. The 1970's are historically viewed as tumultuous, with people at home fighting for equality and soldiers or foreign land fighting as well. There were huge economic disparities between the haves and the have nots. Citizens were increasingly distrusting of the government and it's leaders. The country was left divided from the uproar of the 60s and many people with conservative views supported a new regimen called the "New Right". The New Right fought against high taxes, affirmative action, desegregation in schools and government meddling. Sound familiar?
Right now those seem to be the issues of the day. The economic disparities are huge and some experts proclaim there is no longer a middle class in this country. Our students are falling behind as our educational system seems to be in shambles. Citizens today are highly distrustful of government and that distrust is only extrapolated by media pundits second guessing everything our elected officials are doing. And today, black men continue to be arrested at a higher rate that whites and tragically are also being killed at high rates by police officers entrusted with their protection. While I don't mean to exaggerate the situation by saying we haven't progressed, I find myself often disappointed at our current state.
In this "new world" I'm often left asking the same questions as I did when I was contemplating time travel. The difference is that now my questions have very visible answers. I'm no longer considering what if's but rather living the realities of what is. Now I know what I would have been doing because it IS what I'm doing daily. While I'm not always voicing my opinions in a visible way, I'm dealing with my emotions in a creative manner. I've had long term issues with living in America and wanting to be an upstanding person of color. I now realize that those are confines I set for myself and trying to win over racists with my excellent personality is a futile goal! I've opted to channel my emotion, talent and energy into my creative work. I never really thought I'd be a hippie-dippie artist type, emoting all over the page, but that's where I am. I fought it so long trying to be a more dynamic, outspoken and captivating vision of myself that wasn't quite lining up with what my soul was saying.
The thing I most enjoyed about "Quantum Leap" was that the main character remained himself no matter what body or time period he leaped into. His belief system and his nature/personality remained the same-his SOUL did not alter. What I've found is that as much as I grow and evolve, my soul too remains the same. If I were to go back in time, I think I would bring my light to the world then much as I do now. I believe we all have been given gifts that will need to be utilized before things get better. Our souls are burning to activate and change the world for the better. Ever little thing we do in the name of fairness, equality, compassion-basically everything thing we do in the name of love gets us closer to where we are going. As I sit and type this, I struggle. It's hard for me to grasp that this is enough. I want to be a part of social change and I wonder me sitting around writing and attempting to become better at storytelling in general is enough...
Then I recall all this started with the desire to time travel and I got the idea simply from watching an old school TV show.
When we do the best we can, it is always enough.