Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Complaint Among Time Travellers

It is thought in some quarters that time presents no barriers to time travellers. After all - as a time traveller - you can go anywhere in time, change the circumstances of existence, so time should no longer be your master. A forgotton duty, a friendship forelorn wouldn't be issues for a time traveller who can slip back to the past and repair things. But alas it isn't so simple.

For the travellers on the rivers of time, those who can make their way at will backwards and forwards, life's journey is quite complicated indeed. Take for example physical immortality.

As you have probably already imagined, there exists an island in the currents of time where physical immortality has been achieved. In fact, there are clinics where anybody can go - free of charge - to have their bodies fully "renewed and reconditioned" - all outward signs of aging are cast off and all internal workings are brought up to tip-top shape. All diseases are eradicated and immune systems are revitalised and reinforced against all manner of infection. And Presto! you're nineteen again. The difficulty involves finding such a place and getting an appointment.

That renewal clinics exist, is a given. The trouble is, they don't always exist at the same moment and in the same place. This is the nature of time as it applies to the time travellers. We time travellers learned early on that there is no sustained order of things in the universe, eternal and inifinite as it is. Everything is there for you; it's just not always in the same place at the same time. Those people who would try to sell you a map may tell you how current and complete their product is, but while it may well prove useful (I could suggest the Cogtooth Phantomsnatcher Universal Positioning System as one that has often been a help), you inevitibly encounter disappointments, e.g. the clinic closed down just before you arrived, the space station that held the clinic has been dismantled or, in rare cases, the planet where the clinic was situated has been destroyed. (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus with his sleigh of presents, but there is also, unfortunately, a Darth Vader and his Death Star.)

Why are things this way? Well, as you know in the progress of your own everyday life, what you do one day will effect the reality of the day to come. Often in ways you could never have foreseen. It works this way on a multi-dimensional scale in the eyes of us time travellers. The restaurant at the end of the universe may be your favorite haunt, but the sequence of events that produced its existence are not always where you want them to be. You go there once and have a great time. But you could go there again on what - according to the position of the stars - appears to be the very same location and time as on your last visit, only to find the restaurant doesn't exist at all and never even has, not there anyway. This is because the variables that enabled it to be there on your previous visit (previous, that is, along the line of your personal sequence of events) are different this time. Maybe another time traveller entered the life of the restaurant's founder before he would have opened the place where you expected it to be and lured him to a different location where he opened it instead. And that other location has a better view and gets more customers. (That other time traveller was an astute businessman and knew what he was doing.) And of course there are myriad other variables that make the universe - or even the Earth - so difficult to navigate for us travellers in time. More on that later.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Meeting with the President

I met today with the president of the Hungarian mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). He's an American guy in his sixties from Seattle named Clement. A swell guy, young for his age. I've known him a few years already and have always liked him. I've been attending the LDS for a few years now with my wife and son. We love the joyful, grateful, friendly responsible community there. But I've never joined, never been baptised. I was hoping Pres Clement and I could just talk as friends about interesting topics. And we did open with light talk about business and family. But pretty quickly he switched to a hard sell of baptism, quoting scripture. I agreed with everything he said, drawing comparisons to other scriptures, notably the Bagavad Gita. But he expressed no interest in hearing about other scriptures. I like Pres Clement a lot. He's a righteous, spiritual guy.

He spent the last hour or so of our meeting digging deep into scriptures and putting enormous energy into spelling out his faith and trying to somehow stress why it's important for me to be baptised. How it was revealed to Joseph Smith that his calling was to (re)establish the one true Church. For most of this I sat in respectful silence, nodding thoughtfully. I felt a bit overwhelmed and also a bit guilty at being somehow the cause of his exertion. He struck me as out of character in pushing an agenda. A nice guy like him usually lets his virtues speak for themselves, thereby attracting others to him, to his wisdom, guidence, inner peace.

I told him my feelings about myself and my spirituality and explained that I had no intention of joining his church. I told him I was honored to be asked to do so. But he felt compelled to challenge my position in a manner that left me uncomfortable.

If I see him again I may say the following:

"President Clement, thanks for our talk the other day. Until I come to my senses and get baptised in your church, could we leave the judgements to the Almighty and just respect each other as friends?"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Danube overflows

The Danube has overflowed its banks. The highways that run along the riverside are under water and the boats moored to the banks appear out in the middle of the river as their gangplanks float about on the surface. People line the closest roads that run parallel to the Danube and gape. The tops of park benches and swingsets stick out from the water amidst groups of partially submerged trees. Hajogyari (Boat Factory) Island is flooded, all the film and sound studios that call home to the former industrial buildings there have doubtlessly suffered extensive damage. Trains and buses are stopped and re-routed, traffic all over town is slow. The rythyms of life have been altered. Leaves me thinking of New Orleans.