Tuesday, June 8, 2010
THE FIFTY YEAR WORMHOLE
Wikipedia tells us that “In physics and fiction, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a "shortcut" through spacetime. The theory of general relativity predicts that if traversable wormholes exist, they could allow time travel. This would be accomplished by accelerating one end of the wormhole to a high velocity relative to the other, and then sometime later bringing it back. For example, consider two clocks at both mouths both showing the date as 1950. After being taken on a trip at relativistic velocities, the accelerated mouth is brought back to the same region as the stationary mouth with the accelerated mouth's clock reading 1960 while the stationary mouth's clock reads 2010. A traveler who entered the accelerated mouth at this moment would exit the stationary mouth when its clock also read 1960, in the same region but now fifty years in the past.
During the weekend of July 23, 2010, the EHS class of 1960 will travel through spacetime back to 1960 in Emporia, Kansas. Yes Dorothy, maybe you can go back home. It just won’t quite look the same—trust me. Some folks say there is never so perfect a day as graduation day, like that glorious May day in 1960. Arriving at the Civic Auditorium in May of this year for my grandniece’s EHS class of 2010 graduation, brought back many delightful memories of that same month and place exactly fifty years ago. We had arrived sun burned and a bit out of sorts from a day in the young sun at Reading Lake just in time to cloak ourselves in a sweaty cap and gown. I somewhat remember that I also had a slight case of poison ivy on top of my sunburn which was nice. Life was becoming ever more exciting and ominous, and it was certainly never going to be the same. Like all youth, we couldn’t move on fast enough! And we did just that.
Country singer, Kenny Chesney, struck a cord with me the first moment I heard his hit song, “Young”, many years later. It could easily qualify as the national anthem for high school graduation with these lyrics that sharply resonate the experience:
“Man, I don’t know, where the time goes, but it sure goes fast!
Just like that, we were wannabe rebels that didn’t have a clue,
in our rock ‘n roll T-shirts and our typically bad attitudes.
Had no excuse for the things that we’d done.
We were brave, we were crazy, we were mostly young.
Young-- wishing we were older.
Young-- hey, I wish it wasn’t over!”
We’ve spent the past fifty years traveling life’s paths and encountering a myriad of forks in the road. Some of those turns were positive and some were not. Hopefully, we learned from our wrong turns and persevered on to better choices. If not, well, ironically, we still have time. We read that if we want to enter God’s kingdom, we need to have the trusting nature we initially had as a youth, before the world and the years hardened us. In almost seventy years now, we’ve had plenty of time to experience this broken world and we’ve all surely experienced many Colorado mountain top highs and Death Valley lows. That’s part of the deal. Like iron is hardened to steel in a blast furnace, we too are hardened in the crucible of life. And we’ve never been wired to be immortal—not our bodies anyway. Being close to 70 is called growing old gracefully which ain’t for sissies. We’ve probably acquired new body parts and new relationships. Hopefully, we’ve got new attitudes and outlooks to go with them.
It was quite an experience to briefly talk to the new 2010 EHS graduates at their post party. They had all gathered together while we older citizens from another planet amused ourselves in light conversation. Perhaps it was seriously beginning to soak in that things would never be the same again, as they had all converged together at one of life’s major intersections. But I did take the time to meet them and remark that my classmates and I were also in their flip flops exactly fifty years earlier. And they seemed a bit incredulous when I remarked that we still occasionally get together over the years. They even brightened up a bit when I mentioned that we also still enjoy each other’s company and we pick up on conversations just where we had left off while walking the halls of EHS or dragging the gut on Commercial Street. And although most don’t realize it at the time, there is never so perfect a day as high school graduation day, because we’re never 17 again.