The Plasticity of Time

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What if time is non-linear? What if it doubles and stretches, contracts and expands, and folds back on itself? What if linear time is merely a convenience in our third dimensional reality?

Newtonian physics perceives time as purely linear. Confined to the speed limit of light, even Starships from an advanced extraterrestrial culture would take hundreds and thousands of light years to reach Earth, right?

Science fiction in the 1960’s pretty much put that concept to rest, at least in the realm of the imagination. Star Trek’s warp speed propelled the Starship Enterprise in and out of trouble to the most distant reaches of the galaxy on a weekly basis.

I’ve always loved and voraciously read science fiction and time travel novels, and still can’t get enough of thought-provoking films and TV series. One of my favorite childhood books was Madeleine L’Engels’ A Wrinkle in Time. Heroic children, who became heroic teens as the story continued into a trilogy, traveled through the tesseract—the “wrinkle” in time—in search of the long-missing scientist father of two of the children.

The science fiction novel I wrote in high school was called The Sylvanican Chronicles—a gentle nod to Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. A band of brilliant young people, myself among them of course, had to escape a post-apocalyptic Earth taken over by fascists. We created our own spaceships and set off for the red spot of Jupiter, which turned out to be a “tunnel of color” that led into another region of the galaxy—a concept I later found out was called a wormhole. We arrived in a world we thought was uninhabited, but gradually came to perceive glowing blue spherical beings, orbs of pure thought and love. When we left our bodies at the end of our lives on Sylvanica, we transformed into these beings.

Over the years I turned my talents variously to travel writing, war journalism in Afghanistan, eco-reporting, social documentary, screenwriting, and a novel of love, war, and moral choices set during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s.

Only in recent years did I return to writing science fiction, as the story of Weather Menders began to unfold its wings in my head and heart.

The genesis of my cli-fi novel—the designation for the new climate change fiction genre—was the question: What could reverse climate change? While there are many evolving solutions that I will be blogging about, I turned my mind towards the concept of reversing the current terrifying state of climatic and environmental imbalance by means of a collective do-over. How far back would we need to go? What were the turning points?

This could be an endless intellectual exercise, so I let my intuition guide me to the Pivot Points that eventually became crucial plot elements in the book. On a five-week drive through South Africa in 2009 with my dear friend and fellow Sixth Extinction reverser Tara Waters Lumpkin, we had plenty of time to speculate on where, and when, humanity had collectively gone wrong in recent decades.

Meanwhile, my studies in metaphysics, energy healing, Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, and most other human spiritual traditions led me to the concept of Timelines, parallel lives, and alternate universes. I enjoy the intersection of science and spirituality, and have read extensively about the merging of quantum physics and mysticism. Many flights of fancy have been sparked by Lynne McTaggert’s exploration of the Zero Point Field in The Field and The Intention Experiment, and Dr. Larry Dossey’s many forays into non-locality as a possible explanation for distant healing, telepathy, remote viewing in One Mind and other books.

But what about Time?

Recently, on a mini-Vision Quest during Experience Week at Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, I had a perception of time as fractal, rather than a series of parallel tracks like railroad tracks. I can’t just jump off this Timeline and clutch at one where Bernie or Hillary is president and the world is back on track.

Rather, time branches out through dimensions, like trees reaching for light, like arteries and veins bifurcating into ever smaller vessels, like the Grand Canyon or the Amazon seen from the air. The connection between these branching time lines is synaptical, like information sparking from neuron to neuron in the brain, or squirrels leaping from tree to tree through ancient forests.

Neural plasticity thus becomes a harbinger of temporal plasticity, opening up infinite possibilities. Timelines tear, run out, bleed into one another. It’s possible to conceive of an alternate world where my characters, Tara and Xander, were at Findhorn with me meditating in the Sanctuary sitting on either side of me.

One of the most profound visions of the plasticity of Time is at the heart of the 2016 science fiction film Arrival. When mysterious extra-terrestrials arrive on Earth in twelve locations, the U.S. government chooses Louise, a linguist, and Ian, a mathematician, to attempt to communicate with the beings. Together, synergistically, they discover that the gift of the ET’s to humanity is their understanding of non-linear Time. Louise tells Ian about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, the theory that language determines culture and thinking patterns. As Louise learns to understand the pictoral logograms that the Heptapods draw in a liquid medium, she comes to understand that all time is simultaneous, and has glimpses into futures that echo back into her present.

The concepts in Weather Menders grow out of the same fertile collective consciousness. Although we find ourselves not only teetering on the edge of the Sixth Great Extinction, but beginning a headlong dive into it, I have hope. Based on the ideas of non-locality and the Zero Point Field, and futurist Barbara Marx-Hubbard’s concept of Conscious Evolution, I believe that we—not just a we of humans but a we of sentient beings all over and through the planet—can transform the increasingly dire probable future into a new dream, a New Earth as it is known in many spiritual traditions.

Is Time Travel real? Could Time Travelers from a distant future appear in the nick of time to help us reverse climate change?

On some level, I believe it is absolutely real and possible.

Let us awaken from the current nightmare and slip gracefully into a lucid dream, and together change this dream.

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