At the Intersection of Time and Place

Maybe it’s the fuss over Back to the Future Day that’s got me thinking of time and space and where I fit into the universe. Maybe it’s the questions of my seven-year-old who is trying hard to grasp the space-time continuum. (I didn’t dare breach the subject of time travelers and the Temporal Prime Directive with her.)

For all the world’s fascination with time travel, its possibility, and its implications, no one has accomplished such a feat. (Unless you listen to late-night talk radio and then, well, time travelers already live amongst us.)

The fact remains that each of us came into life at a specific time in a definite place. While we may gain control of the “where” of our lives, we have no power of the “when” and exercise little influence over “how long.”

Have you ever thought you’d be better suited to another era? To another time and place?

In my childhood, likely influenced by both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Michael Landon, I thought I belonged on the American frontier circa the late 19th century.

Maybe you envision yourself flourishing during the European Renaissance Era or in the heyday of the Roman Empire. (I half-wonder if there are people who self-identify as belonging to a different historical era, claiming they were born at the wrong time. [Insert your own swipe at war re-enactors or Amish people here.] I’m afraid to Google it.)

An inability to master technology or a frustration with the predominant cultural values can leave a person longing for a simpler (and likely highly-romanticized) time. A variation on a worn cliché:

The grass is always greener in another time.

Yet you and I were created for this time. And during this time we make choices at thousands of life’s intersections – selecting this, foregoing that. Sometimes the choices are minor but the implications are huge.

We’ve all heard stories of those who at the last minute avoided a flight or a cruise that went down. How many stories have you heard of married couples who met by what seem like a random turn events?

The celebration at which my husband first asked me out was an event that I nearly skipped due to conflicting obligations. If I hadn’t gone, would we have ever gotten together?

Why were we born to a particular time and place? Had any one of my miscarriages been full-term pregnancies, due to the proximity of their conceptions, I would not have the children I have today. Or would I? Is the same person born months later really the same person?

Myriad paths combine and collide in order for things to turn out as they do. Some call these coincidences. Others call them God-incidences.

Twisted intersection

A twisted intersection in which every turn takes you in a different, loopy direction.

Whatever you call them, these ideas always lead me to marvel at the omnipotence of God. Not as a puppet master pulling our strings but as a loving, omniscient Creator who endows us with free will.

Any novelist knows that there is a system, a grand design for nearly every aspect of a story. Details are not left to chance. Each is chosen with knowledge and purpose. The time, the place, the events, and how the characters’ lives intersect are intentional.

This time – your time – is not accidental. Now is the time for which we were meant.

Are you fascinated by another era? Have you ever felt like you belonged there (or then)? Have amazing coincidences changed the course of your life – for better or for worse?


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5 thoughts on “At the Intersection of Time and Place

  1. Sometimes I regret that I wasn’t Jewish, male and living in New York City in the 1950s because I would have grown up to be a stand up comedian or television writer. But then, I probably wouldn’t have my children. I guess I’ll keep them. 😉

    • I think your kids are keepers. It’s never to late to move to New York or try comedy and screenwriting though. But you’re probably stuck being a Gentile.

  2. When I was a kid I had two imaginary friends, Jonathan and Thomas. They were my brothers from the Civil War era. I romanticized that era. I was in love with Abe Lincoln and told people I was Lincoln in my previous life. Looking back, what a horrible time to live in. We have so much today: medical breakthroughs, freedom, you name it. I don’t think I’d change it for the world!

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