Wear Good Shoes To Go Time Traveling

In magicballoonbook, Ellie has a fantastic line. She says, “I would have worn better shoes if I had known I’d be time traveling.”

The line’s been spinning around in my head ever since I wrote it, and I finally wrote this in response to that. I hope you like it?


Wear Good Shoes to Go Time Traveling

Wear good shoes to go time traveling. Preferably comfortable, easy to slip on and off—what if you land in the water? Balloons are notoriously unpredictable—with excellent arch support. Recommended but not required are shoes that you can run to someone, or from someone, and ankle support. In some centuries, a broken ankle could be death.

—–

Time is like a sheet tied to a clothesline in a Kansas thunderstorm. We never know how much force we can take until we’re torn in half and ripped off our lines, tumbling to wherever the wind takes us. Time can be ripped, shredded, marred, cut, and stitched back together. It is weakest in the middle, strongest at the hems, covers us when we need modesty, keeps us warm in the cold of death, soothes us when we are ill. Time can be broken. Time can be burned. But time is matter. It cannot be destroyed.

—–

Hearts are Shabbat elevators, and every floor is a year. We let a little of ourselves out every time it stops. On the eightieth floor, we exit. We’ve left pieces of ourselves scattered all over the years. It’s not a bad way to go through life.

—–

History repeats itself. Evil comes and goes. As a species, we measure history by acts of violence. On timelines, we mark down wars and deaths. How much would we change as a people if we measured history by the good done in the world? What if we measured wars and violence by their counterparts, the people who stood up in the face of injustice? What if we valued the good we did in the world more than the violence we enacted?

History repeats itself. Evil comes and goes. But good remains. There are more good people than evil people. There are more acts of kindness than acts of deliberate evil. What if we lifted up daily acts of courage and kindness to the same level that we lift up daily acts of evil? What if we had a National Day of Kindness? Would it start to happen ever day? What if we had more media coverage of the good in the world than the evil in the world?

History repeats itself. Evil comes and goes. Lifting up and celebrating kindness does not mean ignoring injustice. Wherever there is injustice, we must speak up. Silence is collaboration with the people committing the wrong. We lose nothing by standing with victims. We gain everything by standing with victims, especially in times when they cannot stand for themselves.

History repeats itself. Evil comes and goes. But good remains.

History is not a zero sum game. Question those who consider it a black and white matter. Distance is relative. For some, history is present tense. For others, history is past tense. Remember to be kind, for that distance is collective, buried deep in our bones with our memories and identities.

—–

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote that Jews have a sixth sense: memory.

Maybe we all have this sixth sense. The same way some of us hear better than others, and others see better, and some of us have finely tuned senses of smell, and others have sensitive taste buds, and others love touch, perhaps some of us remember well and some of us remember poorly.

Collective memory, that is, the memory that communities and identities keep throughout generations, can cripple or empower. Sometimes, the choice is in your bones. Sometimes, the choice is not.

Collective memory is a facet on the prism of privilege. Prisms change, every time you turn it. Every face of a prism reflects light differently. Every face you peer through reflects a different reality.

Perspective, said Plato, is reality.

Memory is perspective.

Memory is perspective is reality.

Some of us want to remember better.

Some of us want never to remember again.

For some, memory is all we have.

—–

Wear good shoes to go time traveling.

When traipsing through history, remember: you are not a tourist here. You are an interloper. You are interfering with lives and trajectories. You are an unwanted shadow stitched to someone’s outline. You will be wanted, and unwanted. You will be loved, and unloved. You will be examined, and you will be dismissed. You will be on the outskirts, the sharp edge of a stone cutting the soft sole.

Wear good shoes to go time traveling.

Wear shoes that will be gentle as you step into the footprints of others whom history has forgotten. Remember, the people never mentioned in history books were still makers of history. Every bread sold, every boat that sailed, every kiss exchanged formed history in some way, either for a family or a person or a nation.

Wear good shoes to go time traveling.

Wherever you go, and wherever you come from, remember: no one can ever know how history will judge them. Remember—and here, cling to the memories in your heart, let go of the ones in your bones—that evil is not the only constant in human history. Remember the good, even when you are faced with violence and horror.

Wear good shoes to go time traveling and then, come home.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Wear Good Shoes To Go Time Traveling

  1. BlackPlague says:

    I really like this a lot.

    Tolstoy would agree with you.

    My only question is what happens if you lose your shoes?

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