There are few things to which I am allergic as strongly as anything smacking of "good old days" mentality. There was no such time. It's a fond mythology, but it's just a silly longing for escape from present perceptions we'd rather not have. "Back when I was a kid," I was indeed unaware of some really nasty stuff existing in the world - but it was my unawareness that shocks me now. The stuff was there all along - I was just a child, that's all. I didn't know.
However, there is one thing increasingly a part of our modern world which I do happen to find tempting me over and over and over (and over and over and over) into a mentality that would insist on controlling the passage and direction of TIME!!! Now, THAT's hutzpah for you! That's some kind of nerve! Imagining that I ought to be able to carry around some kind of mystic remote control - a TiVo for my interaction with people ... ahhhh.... just think about it for a minute, would you?
Wouldn't it be great? I could do like Samantha in Bewitched. Some horrid words or fit of temper or sad, sad little petty gripe escapes my mouth, and then I could run my finger anti-clockwise, and poof! All better! I never said it after all. All fixed. No disaster caused by me at all.
Or, how about the ability to re-wind something that just went past and, and there I was, not paying attention? It would be great! Just point my mystic remote control at the car radio, or the person across the table, or the guy in the pulpit, and start that part over again.
This ever-present temptation to wish and wish that I could manipulate time first came to me on an airplane, on the way home from college, decades ago. I just HATE the part of anything that's the last 5 to 15% of the thing. I hate it. Hate hate hate hate it. After about 4 hours on a plane, it came into my head, as we flew across the state line into Oregon at last, that I'd been on that damned plane for long enough, and I just wanted to fast-forward the tape. I knew the ending already. There was no need whatsoever to do this last part. Just fast-forward to the end. Press the button on the tape recorder. Skip this bit. Read the last page of the book I've read before. I just want the last part now, thank you very much. This part before the last part? It gets me into a nearly screaming frenzy.
Now, I do agree with C. S. Lewis. I do think that our sense of frustration with "time" - just the whole thing - linear time's inexorable march - is a bit of Eternity we have within us. We know we are actually immortal. Time and death seem "wrong" to us somehow. We just know it's not supposed to be like this.
But nothing so lofty as a longing for Eternity motivates my irritation with the last bit of a thing or my desire to rewind after I've just said something unforgivably insensitive or embarrassingly idiotic. No, it's not a holy desire for Eternity at all. It's an absurdity of hubris and the false humility of shame driving this itch for a mystic remote control. I'd just rather not think of myself as needing to take anything back - and I'd also rather not adjust my opinion of myself so far as to include "godliness with contentment is great gain" when it's only 20 minutes to landing. This is a matter for repentance - not an acknowledgment of inner Awareness.
And to top it off, once considered, it seems a most perverse thing for me to wish for the power to control time. Look what I'd do with it! I'd be a nightmare of a Bill Murray, Groundhog Day-ing over and over. To my mind, there is indeed a modern temptation which, if it existed in days gone by, did not exist in this form. We are now able to leave our houses without looking for directions or a map - instead, we have GPS, or a cell phone. (My husband heard someone say that cell phones have turned us into a nation of birds - calling out merely to say over and over, "I'm here. Where are you? I'm here. Where are you?") We can always call, right? Bother whoever is at the other end, and get them to give us a turn by turn. We don't have to get a grocery list together either - just stand in the aisle while the person at the fridge tells you what's missing. And if you missed that snippet on the TV or DVD? Just rewind. Have commercials? Fast forward.
All this control on a daily basis is nearly too much for me. It's a temptation nearly - not quite, but nearly - overwhelming to me. It makes me long to be like God, knowing yesterday from tomorrow, and good from evil. Seems to me the last guy - no - I mean, the first guy who did that ended up being very sorry for it.
It is time again for me to find a place of silence. I need to reorient myself in the universe and remember that "to dust I shall return" - at a pace of 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, and only in one direction in time for as long as God grants me breath. And I have to do it without a mystic remote.