TIME TRAVELING SLOWLY – Marilyn Armstrong

Without a machine or a wormhole, we travel through time every day of our lives. We don’t do it instantly, but every photo we take is a picture of us in the past. Recent past, long ago past. All our memories are from the past and with each breath, we move one lungful at a time into our future. It is time travel, but slow.

When I was ten, I read about Halley’s Comet. I learned it would be visible in the heavens on my 39th birthday.”Wow” I thought. “I’ll be so old and I will see the comet on my birthday Thirty-nine!” I couldn’t imagine being that old — or seeing Halley’s Comet.

96-Halleyscomet-1986

When my 39th birthday rolled around, I was living in Jerusalem. On my birthday, as I had planned when I was ten, our bridge club went out into the Judean desert to see the comet. It was Rosh Chodesh, the new moon. It has special significance for Orthodox Jews … and one of us was Orthodox, so he was up a long time because he had to get up before dawn to start praying. That’s Judaism for you. Lots of very long prayers.

The Jerusalem Post had published the exact times and position when Halley’s Comet would be visible as well as where on the horizon you should look. Sure enough, there it was, low on the horizon over Bethlehem. It turned out, when we got back to the house, we could see it perfectly from our balcony. When we knew where to look, it was easy to locate.

halleys-comet-1986

That was 43 years ago. I remember knowing the comet was coming and planning to see it on my 39th birthday. I didn’t know I’d be living in another part of the world by then. Now, as I approach my 73rd year, it’s a one-time memory. I have the perspective of a child, a woman, and a grandmother. I have traveled through time. Slowly. Without a machine, without a wormhole.

It is no less time traveling than in a science fiction story … just a lot slower. Life is a trip through time. Mine, yours, everyones. We won’t bump into our younger or older selves, but we carry each of these selves with us as a future, past or this moment in time.

26 thoughts on “TIME TRAVELING SLOWLY – Marilyn Armstrong

    • I was watching a TV show and someone said to someone else “Some pictures of me in the past” and the other person said, “ALL pictures are you in the past!” — which made me think that our lives are time travel. Just not fast and with no danger of bumping into our past selves. No wormholes, no time machines. Just the ticking of our personal clocks while moving slowly but surely through time.

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  1. Pingback: Time Travelling Slowly ~Marilyn Armstrong | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  2. I was in grade school when Halley’s comet passed by, and recall all of the buzz over it (I can’t imagine what that would have been like in this age of social media everything). Never saw it, and learned that it’s 1986 fly-by was supposedly at one of its most distant points it could be at (The 1910 viewing was much more impressive, so I heard). At least there was Hale Bopp in 1997, and that one I saw and was surprised at how much of the sky it took up….

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    • I missed the 1997 one, probably because we were living in Boston and both working full time PLUS. We meant to see it. We just didn’t. You are right: the 1986 pass of Halley’s was not a big deal UNLESS you had a telescope, which we lacked. But it was interesting, especially the process of finding someplace where there were no streetlights so the sky was dark enough to see anything. We had thought Bethlehem would be a better choice, but THEY had streetlights. Back home, we didn’t have streetlights, so it was much easier to see from the sidewalk in front of our house. We didn’t have to traipse through the desert after all.

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  3. You had a good spot to view the comet. I think that it was obscured by cloud here. I was a bit disappointed not to get a good view of it as I knew that I would never get another chance.

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    • We had three days to see it. That time of year, there are no clouds. It’s deluge or dry, nothing in between. No medium. You don’t get “light showers” in Israel. Very much like Arizona and probably a lot like Australia. The rainy season (aka winter) is from late-October through March if you are lucky. It’s an arid zone, so those prayers for rain in October are serious business. Spring is late January through early May and definitely the best time of year, though a sunny day in winter is also lovely. Spring is heralded by the blooming of the Almond trees in January and continues through early May when the wild poppies bloom in the Galilee. The rest of the year is hot, hotter, very hot, and too hot to breathe and there is never a cloud in the sky. If there IS a cloud, everyone runs out to look at it. “Wow! A cloud!”

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      • One of the things I like about living in the country is that there is no light pollution. There were no streetlights near my old house in Geeveston and I never ceased to be amazed at the stars at night. Here there are one or two lights nearby but not enough to interfere with the show in the sky.

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  4. It is so true Marilyn. I enjoy taking photos of Aurora Australis and the night sky. As I sit in my car or out side shooting. I feel so insignificant on this moving time capsule we call earth. I am not sure about bumping into our selves. For me with my mental illness CPTSD I do bump into my child self. perhaps not in a physical realm but certainly present in my life. As a middle age(hmm a bit over now well more than a bit. 🙂 I am working to engage with her and me to bring us to the total me. Now that is a form of traveling in time. I really enjoyed this observation, and I was trying to recall where we were when Halley’s comet came by. I would have been 13 so with my family and I do have vague memories of standing looking at the night sky.

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    • I used to have another me who sat on my shoulder and narrated my life. I think it may be more common than I thought. Only in real crises does that commentary fuse with the rest of me. Probably nothing like what you experience, but it’s as close as I can get. I think I’m afraid of the childhood me. Childhood was terrifying and I don’t want to know anything about it. I’ve forgotten almost everything that happened to me until sometime in High School. Maybe it’ll come back, maybe not. Not is just fine with me.

      Halley’s Comet is supposed to be back in 2061. Maybe some of us — not me I’m afraid — will make it.

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