A constant theme of movies and books about time travel is the idea that characters, normally some clumsy, dubious, or overconfident protagonist, must be careful not to disturb anything in the past. The worry is that if the character disturbs something, even something minute, their actions could have vast, overarching consequences on the future and/or change the outcome of events. The mantra is basically “don’t touch anything”, and it appears often.
Recently after a bit of Netflix, maybe too much Netflix, it struck me that I can’t prove that these small moments in the past can have overarching effects on the present or future. What I can do, however, is note that we treat these small moments rather differently in the present vs. the past. The idea at its core is that given that characters are always worried about small events in the past affecting the future on a grand scale, that the small events in our present that we deal with on a daily basis can also have this effect. I couldn’t find any time travel scientists on short notice, but it seems fair to entertain the thought.
Now, my first reaction to this thought was panic. How can I possibly worry that each small thing that I do or experience can have massive consequences on my future and the future of those around me? Have I been brushing off small moments as if they don’t matter, and what have I already unintentionally changed? Once I took 5-10 deep breaths and arrived at the conclusion that it would not be possible to worry that much, I was able to find value in this thought.
This value was, for me: Do not treat small moments like they are disposable. While it is ok to relax and experience those moments of relaxation as equally valuable as those where I am worried. That is, it is not so much the worrying about the moment’s effects that I should be focused on, but rather I should assure that I am living in the moment on a consistent basis. When I am connecting with others, I should be truly present and focused on my experience with them. When I am working, enjoying a hobby, or writing I should make it my responsibility to be doing that to the best of my ability. Take advantage of the ability to have great effect on the future by making the most of the small moments.
For those who have read my writing before, you know that I seek inspiration in the world around me. I search for the inspiration to continue to be my best every day for myself, and for others. Maybe this exercise is more worrying for some than it is helpful, and if so I apologize, but I think there is value to be found in the reminder to not let small moments slip past you out of laziness. For me, it is a reminder to go into each thing I do with vigor and to involve myself fully in each of them.