I close the Skype screen, as the sun sets in New York to the slow exchange of conversation between my mother and I. All the while, the sun rises in Adelaide and the rays burst in through every window and open space in the house. The intense summer heat penetrates through my closed blinds generating the intense warmth my mother in law, in Lahore, would so appreciate when she wakes up to pray in the cold winter morning. The art of traveling requires juggling thoughts, tasks, conversations and time zones. I am the one medium that transports all these changes and thoughts on and right now onto my computer. My mind, though used to globetrotting, has yet to adjust to the art of time traveling.
What is time travel? It is a very complicated process that not only takes place externally in our environments but it changes our internal thoughts as well. When Australians celebrate Christmas with big sales and decorations, my mind always repaints what I see with snow and an electric, starry, bride-like refreshing New York Christmas night. I constantly look at the watches and pause my brain to check the dates on news articles, on emails and on TV shows. I check time zones before I wish people a Happy New year from the future. The confusion is exacerbated with daytime TV show reruns which could be a day old, phone calls from family and friends from around the world inquiring how my day went when it just started. There are many technologies that make it easier to survive time travel like goggle search, multiple clocks on my laptop and phone.
You might think so what? I travel all the time and I am organized and well synchronized, maybe you just need to train you mind? Perhaps, but we must discuss the art of time travel and how one manages time and travel. Over the last century, with the invention of technology that enables us to travel efficiently and quickly, migrate and do so several times in a year if not in our lives, we must discuss this phenomenon. We must discuss the profound effect it has on our being. It is true that with globalization and capitalism there is an ever increase of the familiar around the globe; there’s McDonalds almost everywhere I go, Starbucks and Mrs. Fields can be found on major airports, entrepreneurs and investors (along with their ventures) are now transcending boundaries. However, on a personal level, the process requires constant reconfiguration of the environment in our brains, generating multiple definitions of who we are and multiple ways of existing in the world.
There is a niche within the population of the world that understands this art and has been a time traveler but for those who have had the privilege to live within the same time zone all their life, this niche of people and their multitudes of existence is as fascinating and incomprehensible as my renaming traveling to time travel itself. I offer you not a definition but dare you to a challenge. I urge you to undertake a challenge of traveling to three parts of the world within a week if not three days, book a flight from New York to Sydney, with a stay of two weeks or more, and then a flight to your city of choice in Central Asia or the Middle East with a final flight back to New York. If you do that, you should pat yourself on the back as you’ve successfully completed a mind boggling, exhausting task of time travel. Your body will be weak and confused for at least a week. You might look at pictures and be surprised you were just enjoying the summer sunshine in Sydney last week while the slightly cold spring air roams through your room. Now, just imagine traveling often, and for longer periods and imagine your entity dissolving and regenerating itself into a conglomeration of all the places you’ve even traveled to, all the language you’ve attempted to understand or even speak now, all the foods you’ve tasted, all the people you’ve befriended, and all the separations you’ve endured and that’s when you have become an actual time traveler.