Imaginary Time – Wednesday July 2nd

You want to know why there have been so many remakes and variations of the movie “Freaky Friday” (including “Like Father, Like Son”, “Vice Versa” “Prelude to a Kiss”)? It’s because that actually happens all the time.  People wake up one morning in the wrong body, and they have to figure it out and just act cool until they go to bed one night, or get hit by lightening, etc etc  and wake up back in their old life.  It does happen all the time, and if you really think about it you already knew that. It’s probably happened to you.

Remember the show “Quantum Leap”?  Same basic concept.  Obviously there is a lot of romanticizing and dramatizing of the phenomenon which is why you might not have noticed when it was happening to you.  Some people look back on their lives and realize all through junior high they were in the wrong person, or their entire year abroad in college, or the summer between 11th and 12th grade.  During particularly stressful times you can get flipped in and out of other people within a matter of hours.  You look at the clock, realize it’s 6 pm and the past two hours you were just somewhere else, just trying to figure it the hell out.

I watched John Oliver interview Stephen Hawking a couple weeks ago on “Last Week Tonight”.  Stephen Hawking mentioned imaginary time and I couldn’t stop rolling the words around in my mouth.  After a few days of just saying the words, picturing them in my head, writing them over and over like a love sick teenager- I needed to know if it was Freaky-Friday-style imaginary time.

Predictably, trying to understand the actual concept was impossible.  I got three sentences into the Wiki page and had to lie down with a cold cloth on my head.  I did six or seven rounds in the ring with Google before I gave up.  I can’t even remember enough words from the articles I tried to read to piece together a joke about how little I remember of what it really means.  But when I’m not really concentrating on anything specific, those words slip back into my mouth.

Imaginary time.

In physics, it means something very very complicated.  In regular life it means waking up, or coming to, and being right in the middle of a different existence.  You know when you’ve felt like you were watching yourself act impossibly bad, or brave or beautiful?  That’s the jumbled way your brain tries to sort out the memory of it.  A lot of really hard habits to break also happen to take people to a comfortable or at least recognizable spot in imaginary time and let you just hang for a little while- like smoking cigarettes, or biting your nails, or heroin.  You can drive into imaginary time and end up at home.

People don’t talk about it very much unless you bring it up in just the right way.  Then everyone falls all over themselves explaining when it happens or where they go.  There are always a few people who act like you’re crazy, but you know those are the people who go somewhere really far.

Imaginary time.  It seems to just be a part of the human experience.  It looks best written in cursive.  It inspires mostly crappy movies.


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  1. Leslie Ann says:

    Interesting. Thought-provoking.

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