‘People assume that time is a strict progression of cause and effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of…wibbly wobbly…timey wimey…stuff.
The Tenth Doctor
Reflecting back on this episode brings back such good memories. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, Doctor Who is pretty much credited for being the prime source material for the nightmares of every single child who grew up watching the BBC. It is one of the few series I know that is at its best when it is centered around tragedy and loss. This particular episode, Blink, is especially notable. First, it is the premier appearance of what is now one of the most famous and feared of the Doctor’s enemies, the Weeping Angels. Real nightmare material. Beings that can only move when you can’t see them. They kill you by throwing you back in time and letting you live to death. Second, it guest-starred Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow. I loved her performance in the episode and I’ve been an avid fan ever since. She is the perfect example of just irresistible adorableness and pixie-like waifishness. Third, the Doctor, played by the incredibly talented David Tennant, barely makes an appearance in this episode yet it is still hailed as perhaps one of the best of all time. This is a testament to the show’s ability to capture so much without relying on the same people over and over again. Some shows never quite grow out of their cast, but this proves that Doctor Who is timeless and is so much more than just the sum of its greater parts. Fourth, and most importantly of all, the writing in this episode is just spot on. The entire episode is quotable. For example, here is Sally Sparrow checking out an old house with her friend:
Kathy: What did you come here for anyway?
Sally: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy: What’s good about sad?
Sally: It’s happy for deep people.
I think there are many of us who would heartily agree with that sentiment.
Still for all that I can say about this episode or the series in general, we cannot forget that the real reason why I brought any of this up in the first place is the line the Doctor uses to try and explain the true nature of our relationship with time to non-time travelers.
Everything that could ever possibly happen, has already. We are just slow to experience it.
Once again this is mainly a problem of perception. We view the world, and time, always in relation to us. This is understandable, as it is our best frame of reference. Since our day is structured as wake up, brush, shower, dress, breakfast, drive, work, etc., this is how we view time. Everything follows the previous in a nice, orderly line. The problem is we aren’t alone. At the exact same time you are doing your daily routine, millions and billions of others are doing theirs. And what they do could in some way impact what you do. Their present runs parallel to yours and their past affects your future. Everything becomes…jumbled.
Two things to consider when it comes to our minds. 1) We don’t like chaos. We always try to find order and reason behind things. We try to justify events with understanding or else we’d be too afraid of our own minds to ever step foot outside. So we try to convince ourselves that the other people that exist somehow don’t affect our realities. We can be perfectly immune from the action of others. 2) We have very limited vision. It’s hard for us to see beyond our own noses sometimes. Because of this we struggle to realize how many events are taking place independent of our own lives or the lives of only those who are closest and dearest to us.
If we took in everything that happens at the exact time it happens we’d be pinned to the floor with the sudden onslaught of information and experience. To keep ourselves from going insane we parse everything off. We create blocks of time. Seconds become minutes become hours become days and we place everything we experience into a schedule otherwise we could never process it all. This creates that order from chaos so we can say ‘oh this happened at this point’. It also helps us process when too many things are happening at once. We all know that feeling when we are weighed down by our concern for others or when we are thinking about all the people we care about for positive or negative reasons. We can, for those we care about deeply, think about all of their individual timelines at the same time. We know that we can think about say, maybe five different people and know what they are all doing simultaneously. But ten people? Fifty? One-hundred?! We divide them out. They are separate.
The world doesn’t run like this though. There are an infinite number of things happening at every single moment. Every possible outcome, event, experience, it is now, now, now, now. Imagine an infinite amount of straight lines shooting out into the universe. But at the same time the gravity of our actions start to tug and pull on other people’s lines. My heartbreak intersects with so many people’s timelines. Your decisions are curving and warping the straight lines of time of every person around you. What started as a collection of parallel lines starts to turn in on itself. We get…wibbly wobbly.
Time is not a progression. It isn’t a line that we define on our own. When we gain the insight, the patience, and the broader vision to consider other people, time becomes a definition of our relationships with others. We all want more time. It is our most precious commodity. Perhaps the easiest and best way to gain more time is to let more people into our lives. A day lived through the relationships of five people is four days more than a day lived on your own. We might not be able to live forever but we can certainly keep touching more and more lives and adding more lines to our own twisted and curved time and live more.
Man: 67 Loneliness: 19