Monday #15: Time Travel


A few months ago I ran across Philips Zimbardo’s talk on time perspective. It’s one of many quirky RSA animations that use videos of drawings to illustrate a lecture with great effect. Zimbardo’s time perspective lecture focused on the difference between past, present and future oriented time perspectives, how they evolve out of specific places and cultures and what they mean for 21st century humans, particularly for the youngest generation–often referred to as our “cyber natives.” It is a fascinating look at the way a simple thing like how we perceive time can change our outlook of the world and our expectations for our selves and our social and professional paths.

This week I am in Youngstown, Ohio doing some school visits and other creative projects. I’ve been working in this part of Ohio for a few years and always enjoy coming here because it is a place where I have really been able to blend all my professional passions–education, the arts and environmental interests. But, once upon a time, I also went to graduate school in nearby Cleveland and so it represents a place in my own timeline that was pivotal in so many ways. Yesterday, between visiting friends, I drove around my old stomping grounds in Cleveland Heights and felt the existential impact of time passage in a profound way.

old apt

On the one side of this personal timeline is my old apartment on Hampshire Boulevard. Standing at the front of this building, I see a figurative doorway of time. It represents a time in my youngest adulthood that was full of different friends and different adventures. It was a time of curiosity, exploration, anxiety and, admittedly, lots of vice and little virtue. A time before marriage, career, parenthood and all those responsibilities… a time before knowing who I might become. Looking at this pile of bricks it is ironic to me that although two decades have passed, the building is exactly as it was–housing some other person who is busy making their own way–but my life has evolved in ways that I could not have predicted or imagined.

NinaFast forward to the other end of my timeline: the present. After snapping the shot of my old digs I met a brand, new friend for lunch. Nina and I have been taking an online certification class together and, in a serendipitous turn of events, she and I were both in Cleveland on the same weekend. We “met” months ago and have truly connected in many sweet, funny and thoughtful conversations, both on the phone and in emails, however, this was our first actual face to face meeting. I joked with her that it was a little bit like a blind date and must admit that there was a butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that is really similar to a blind date! My lunch date with Nina represents a new doorway in my life… new friends, new adventures, new curiosities, new explorations, anxieties and, fortunately, less vice and a little more virtue. We talked about our work in the arts and brainstormed lots of exciting ways that we might collaborate professionally. It was a good, good time.


Later I had dinner with a family for whom I used to be a nanny. My former ward took a break from studying in her dorm room at Case Western to join us for dinner… we laughed about her imaginary friend, Mango, and the song lyrics she once wrote for her two best songs, “Candy Bar” and “Can of Soup.” Where once I changed her diapers and helped her hold crayons, now I asked her about her plans for her own future… her place in the world not so much different than mine was in my old apartment on Hampshire Boulevard 20 years ago. Time marches on.

Zimbardo talks about the pros and cons of being either past, present or future oriented. Sometimes, I think, it’s good to take a moment to be all three at once. Yesterday I felt the pull of the past, along with all of the gratitude and regret that only the past can bring and I felt the excitement and hope for the future that comes with the impossible unknowing of the unknown. But, most of all, in this place, I felt a surreal mix that tells me the present is a crazy blend of all of our life’s experiences plus our expectations of the future and that, combined with actual places that hold our histories, speaks to us about who we have been, who we are and who we might become.

TRY THIS WEEK: Honor your timeline.

About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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29 Responses to Monday #15: Time Travel

  1. What an interesting perspective. Most of the time you are told to just focus on the present and live in the present, but perhaps it is the present, in combination with our past and future that we should look at. Congrats on being FP! 🙂

    P.S. Is this the same Zimbardo who did the prison experiments back in the day?

    • Dar Hosta says:

      I’m not sure about Zimbardo’s past experiments, actually… I do know, however, that my mother was very familiar with him and she is a psychologist, so maybe it is the same person.

  2. I love this post — and the advice to “honor your timeline.” We are all an amalgamation of experiences old and new, and who we are today is a direct result of who (and where) we’ve been in the past. Beautiful insight you’ve provided here…

    I’ve also learned in recent months to be grateful for the challenges. Even though they may have felt debilitating (read: IMPOSSIBLE) at the time, they have all contributed to our “today.” Five years ago I was completely blindsided by a shocking, gut-wrenching divorce (the story behind which actually inspired my very first blog post ever). But now, I have to be grateful for it all — the blindsidedness of the experience (yes, I just made that word up), the consequences, the unexpected benefits, etc. I am who am today (and where I am) because of that experience. And guess what? I’m far better off.


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  4. segmation says:

    I always think of Cleveland and show this time of the year. Where’s the snow at the old apartment on Hampshire Boulevard?

  5. pjb1943 says:

    My take on it is that you should reflect on the good/bad of your past in order to properly focus your actions in the present so that you will have a better future. Liked the post.

  6. Tyler Murphy says:

    Awesome post!

    I am of the view that to properly be in the here and now, you’ve got to be able to reflect without burden on where you’ve been in the past and stay hopeful and determined to reach some place in the future. The present, in that sense, is a constant struggle between two extremes.

  7. River Man says:

    I have always been intrigued by the thought of time travel. If I could go back in time, what would I do differently knowing what I know now, and how would that have impacted not only my future, but also the world around me. I enjoyed the perspective you offer, and I will try to live now in the past, present and future.

  8. RJ says:

    Nice post. It made me think.

  9. foroneplease says:

    Such a lovely post! And ‘serendipity’ is one of my fav words 😉

  10. Awesome post, thanks for sharing! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  11. Mr. M says:

    I think I am completely present oriented at times. It’s interesting to think about it that way, which I haven’t done in a long time. Sometimes I think way too much about how it’s going to make me feel right now, and I should instead be focusing on how it made me feel the last time, or how it might affect me in the future. I love this blog entry!

  12. very nice, I learnt a new word “serendipitous”…. but was left wondering how that pile of bricks not having changed could be ironic (rather than somehow strange) to you. I don’t see any irony here.

    • Dar Hosta says:

      Dear Viking…. touche… But, I’m so sorry that that was your takeaway from the post. Really, it was about so much more. Good thing you got “serendipitous,” though… it’s a lovely word. Cheers.

  13. #CoolBlogPost @DrAnthony

  14. Kris F says:

    CONGRATS!!! FP is the place for you!!! Great post. So glad to see you here.

  15. Pingback: Monday #15: Time Travel | alatiffh's Blog

  16. puravida says:

    Great post, and thought-provoking. I had a similar experience when I dropped my daughter off at college to live in a house that I had lived in about 30 years before. It was a really strange feeling – she was seeing the place for the first time and my memories came flooding back. You did a great job of describing that surreal feeling when past, present and future seem to overlap.

    Congrats on being FP!

  17. Diyona Joe says:

    This blog on the travel were great and it were quite interesting into know them in depth …..

  18. Pingback: Monday #52: Year End Round Up! | Dar's 52 Mondays Blog

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