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..: stories

..: RE: Time Travel

Hey Perry,

For some reason -- scratch that -- for a very interesting reason, I find myself replying to your Time Travel post on the Epic site. Editor's note: The content on that link may be offensive. I'm not going to get maudlin or overly arcane here, but I'd like to mention a little of my experiences with the Great American Roadtrip. As you know, I've traveled with my family as a youngster much like you did, and know the highway geography of the southwest like few in LA, and its history as well (many old facts-of-the-day were related to things I learned on those trips).

One thing that struck me was when you mentioned that you never knew the places you were at, your dad being too absorbed in the trip to disclose your very location to you, a curious boy. And believe you me, I know curiosity. This brings me to my first reaction: your father left you to find things out on your own, either because he couldn't be bothered or he wanted to teach you a lesson.

This reminds me of a story I once heard. A Jewish man recounted his experience as a five-year-old in his house: one day before dinner, his father, a Rabbi, asked him to climb atop the counter and jump off into his arms. At first, he refused, being afraid to fall. After many reassurances and cajoling, he finally said OK, and jumped. His father backed away quickly and let him fall to the floor. Bruised and crying, he sat there while his father hovered over him, and said "You see, you can never trust anyone. Never forget that."

That is an ugly lesson to learn, and much an ugly way to learn it. I feel anger at how your father abandoned you in many ways to learn things on your own. His is the example of how not to teach that lesson. My father, on the other hand, may be presented as a counterexample. Though I cannot say that he was superior, or a better human being, I can say his method (and my mother's) for teaching me was much better. The lesson, of course, was the same, but the way they directed me ultimately brought them into my utmost respect.

When we traveled on these road trips, even when I was very young, my parents fed my near-pathological curiosity not by answering my questions, but by directing me to a source, by encouraging me to find the answers on my own. As a five-year old, then a ten-year old, then a teenager, I was the one with always a map in my hand, reviewing our course and pointing out notable features or places. Perhaps it was easier to hand me a book rather than deal with my interrogations, but the lesson I learned was the right one: I wasn't abandoned to find the answers on my own.... I was simply shown that that was the quickest, or safest, or surest way to get them answered. I learned very young that I couldn't rely on them for the answers, but I also learned that they would not hide the answers, either. As a child, when I asked them questions, they didn't often answer, their replies were almost uniformly one of two things: while traveling, my mom or dad would simply hand me the map; when at home, they simply would say "look it up in the encyclopedia". I'm grateful that my parents taught me the same lesson you learned, but taught me in a way that promoted trust rather than denied it. Whenever I become a father, I want to teach my children the way my parents taught me, and when you become a father, I believe you will do the same.

Secondly, the thought crossed my mind that your father was time traveling himself, not in a literal sense of revisiting his childhood memories, but building a set of childhood memories in his adulthood; perhaps he didn't have memories like yours that he wanted to relive...

- Tim

Tim just sent me this link, which is a thread in which Clinton gets down with this other dude, and they like, argue about stuff. The referee even comes in to try to calm things down. I got three sentences into it, and got confused.
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