After a long day of work, I walked into my room to get some ‘me’ time. But, as soon as I opened the door, I jumped. Smack in the middle of the room, stood a strange structure, something like a chariot.
In my room?
My first thought was to run in the opposite direction. But curiosity got the better of me, and I walked in. I sat down on the chair and suddenly a panel lit up in front of me –
‘Where will thou go? The future or the past? Choose wisely. This journey will be your first and your last.’
Hmm. Interesting. But surely it is fake. Come to think of it, how did it get into my room? Is this a prank? Should I tell my family?
I started to call out to my parents, but stopped.
Just a minute. What if it is real? Like in the movies? I can try it out, right? What’s the harm in trying? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
In fact, I should try it out. That way I can give a full report to my parents. Yes! I owe it to the movement for complete information. I am doing this.
Will it work? I don’t know. Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work and I make a fool of myself. Best case scenario? Well..
Okay okay. One try, that’s it.
Where should I go?
To the future? That would be great! I will skip this period of anxiety and struggle. I will fast forward to a month from now, all results will be out and vacations will start! Perfect.
But then I’ll have to go through a long wait for the next phase of life to begin. No no, let’s just directly skip to the first day of my job.
But initially it might be very slow. I won’t get any responsibilities. I might not get a chance to meet clients. I don’t want to live through that frustation, do I? Let’s just skip to my first promotion. No, my first business award. No, my first self-built home. Aaah! Where should I go? At what point in my life will things reach a level where I don’t want anything more? Let’s say I decide to go to that point in time where everything I have desired has been achieved. Will a direct jump be even worth it? Will I be able to recognise myself in the mirror? Will I not become a supporting character in my own story? A character with no history and no future?
No, I don’t want to miss my journey from here to there. Not the future.
What about the past? I could go back in time to those occasions when I was happy. I could go back to my childhood when I jumped about without a care in the world. I could go back to the time when I first got on the stage. Or to the first time I stepped into college. Or my first research paper. Or my first team. Nah! What’s the point? I have already lived those experiences. I still relive them in my memory every day. Why should I get stuck up in the past?
Here’s an idea, I can go back to reverse my mistakes! To that exam I didn’t prepare for, to the time I disappointed myself, when I felt weak, when I was insensitive, or arrogant, or anything that I didn’t want to be. I can go back and rewrite my life story. But then, how will I grow? How will I build up my own treasure of learnings? My character has built through my failures, not the successes. I don’t want to lose that! Can’t go back to the past either.
Then? Am I not going anywhere?
Tsk tsk. Such a great opportunity and I am letting it go. Sighing, I got out of the chair and started to exit the room. Time to tell the family about this mysterious machine, it’s of no use to me in any case. What a waste!
But is it? Didn’t this machine just teach me the most invaluable lesson of all? Life is not just a collection of disjoint milestones. It’s the journey between them. It is the struggles, the daily experiences, the warm hugs of friends, the warmer smile of strangers. It is the fights with my sister over the remote, it is the debates with my colleagues, it is the satisfaction of getting the right answer, the pride in asking the right question, it is everything. It is the ‘present’, the place where I belong.
It is where I want to be.
I took one last look at the machine and walked out. I had realized – it is the journey that matters, not the getting there.