I have finally discovered the secret of time travel. My first instinct is to hold the secret close until I can get a patent on it. Then I’ll sell it for an outrageous amount of money, which you’ll gladly pay because who wouldn’t want to travel through time and space to meet the likes of Michelangelo, have tea with Mother Teresa, and dine with Diana, Princess of Wales?
That’s what I’d like to do. But I can’t, in good conscience, withhold such a secret from you, my dear friends. So I’ll reveal to you—just between us, you understand—answers to a mystery people have searched for centuries to find. I’ll tell you the secret of traveling through time.
It’s in our words.
And it’s in our deeds.
You see, I was recently in a situation where someone was unkind to me and made me feel insignificant. I have no idea if they meant to be mean, but in the moment, it felt like it was on purpose. In an instant, I was transported back to third grade, to Mrs. Shoemaker’s class, to when the bully taunted me to see if he could make me cry. I felt alone and scared, my heart racing, holding my breath to hold back the tears, trying not to care and failing miserably.
I stayed there, in grade-school limbo for the better part of the day, my stomach in knots, feeling all awkward and rejected and vulnerable.
Now the cool thing about this time-travel thing is that your current self can still talk to your time-travel self, and that’s exactly what happened. Grown-up Renae tried to explain to eight-year-old Renae that she was being silly and childish. That she was imagining things. That she was a fully-grown, fully functioning adult, and that another person’s words and actions needn’t affect her one iota. That someone else’s choices were between that person and God. Sticks and stones and all that.
But child-Renae—who is very much still connected to adult Renae—had a hard time controlling the long, looping spaghetti strands of emotion that wrapped around her spirit.
I wish I could give you a happy ending to that story. And I can—sort of. The truth is, no matter how old we get, some people are mean. Some people are bullies. The truth is, I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t ever want to make another person feel the way I felt that day.
Now that I’ve unlocked the mystery of time travel, I want to use my newfound knowledge for good. I want my words to take people back to where they felt most accepted.
I want my actions to carry people to their favorite times and places—their just-made-a-homerun memories with everyone cheering for them, or their tucked-in-with-a-bedtime-story-and-a-kiss memories, where they know they are cherished and safe.
So really, that person did me a favor. That person caused me to take a good, hard look at myself. That person helped me determine to never make another human being feel the way I felt, in that moment.
Now that you know, I ask you to join me in this epic, sci-fi adventure. How will you use your words and actions to propel others on a wonderful voyage? Who will you send on a joyous journey through time, today and every day? To where will you send them?
Wherever it is, make sure it’s someplace good.
Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.