I got the idea for this blog because we’ve been re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and introducing the kids to one of the seminal entertainment series of our own youth. I could go on for days about the Star Trek phenomenon, its worldview on the future, and how it’s shaped our society in ways that go far beyond the usual “Star Trek Nerd” reach, and how Gene Roddenberry was a friggin’ visionary the likes of whom we see only a handful of in every generation. But more than once, Star Trek has explored the themes of time being fluid, and our perception of it certainly is. This is what Star Trek has taught me about time:
The more you need, the less you have. The warp core never goes critical when the Enterprise has fifteen hours to figure out how to contain it. Lack of time as we perceive it prompts us to prioritize certain activities over others. And in many cases, both extreme and less so, a time limit can encourage us to take risks and cognitive leaps in order to achieve that which we think is impossible (“I canna change the laws of physics, Jim!” And yet he frequently does…)
Exceeding the speed of light will still leave you too late for some things. The negotiations between the warring alien races will always degenerate faster than the Enterprise can arrive there to intercede. But they were degenerating anyway, and the Enterprise’s presence wouldn’t have been needed, had they already been there. There’s a sense of urgency that comes with important tasks. The nature of the priority you place on a task makes the accompanying urgency itself fluid. In short, you always feel like you’re running out of time to do the important things because they are important, not because you’re running out of time. A lot of our society revolves around manufacturing importance by making something time-sensitive, like “limited-time offers” and “24-hour sales” – they’re designed to increase the urgency in order to decrease the consideration of your actions.
Time can get tangled into a loop that can be altered at key points along the curve. The Enterprise has been known to alter the course of history on several occasions, but not merely by being present in a point in time it isn’t logically supposed to be. The crew must influence key events in history for history to continue–or change. If you’re in a rut, there are key points in your behavior patterns where you can break the cycle by making a different choice. You don’t have to change everything about your behavior pattern–you don’t have to cease doing laundry in order to break out of your “laundry on Tuesdays” rut (in fact, I highly suggest that you continue doing laundry–your kids might have great fun going commando, but it will surely get old at some point in time…right around the time when they’re out of undies and shorts!).
My short contemporary romantic comedy, Forever Material, is about a Dating Diva who must decide if it’s time to find Mr. Right, or the right kind of Mr. Wrong. It’s on Summer Sale for $3.49 at the major retailers.
She’s absolutely sure he’s not the marrying kind…
He’s absolutely sure she’s right…
But he’s still going to prove her wrong.