Life’s time capsule

On December 31, 1900, the then mayor of Detroit, William C. Maybury, created the first time capsule. It held things he and some of the citizens’ thought would be worth preserving. Interestingly it included letters from 56 “prominent residents.” Detroit Century Box was scheduled to be opened 100 years later.

Decades later, when NASA launched its space exploration program, a gold record like an LP was created. The Voyager version contained 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, and printed messages. It showed mathematical and physical quantities, the Solar System and its planets, DNA, human anatomy and reproduction. The Golden Record also carried an hour-long recording of the brainwaves of Ann Druyan (a friend of Carl Sagan) and many topics, including Earth’s history, civilisations and the problems they face, as well as what it was like to fall in love.

I feel we are like our own time capsule and all our narrative is contained within our mind. The journey is not into deep space, it is within us. Every event is recorded and saved – some good, some bad. What I try to do is sift all the good memories like a gold prospector panning for gold. When I find gold flakes I put them aside as a part of memories to sustain me, especially when bleak skies threaten to engulf me. That doesn’t mean I advocate repressing the painful or mundane at all. I believe they all exist and are then woven into our soul. Each of us must try to find a way to conquer our own demons and protect the treasures we hold dear.

“What has that to do with me?” I imagine you’re thinking – quite a lot actually. The concept of a time capsule is akin to the wearing of amulets. They bind us to our past and promise we will have a future. Be they worry beads, a jewel or a text to protect the wearer, they are often cardinal to many cultures or religions. Even if you are not religious, an object you attach significant value to can give the illusion of control.

Many people believe in the concept of a lucky charm. Believe it or not, studies done show that these objects seem to have value, but not to influence the outcome of events. Interestingly it has more to do with managing our internal stress levels in stressful situations. Whether it is holding thumbs, kissing a cross or touching a sacred object, they can calm us. Clearly we don’t want the rituals to go to the level where they become obsessive and harmful. Like many of us, I have one or two. I feel less at the mercy of random events, I don’t care why, and it works for me. Maybe these psychological levers can access strength within ourselves that actually affect our ability to achieve what we need. This may even be true if our belief may be incorrect. I know it is pop psychology, but it does seem to work on some level.

Apart from that, I have a real touchstone. For the lack of a better way to describe it, I call my talisman an infinity locket. Like Victorian lockets, which held locks of hair, photos and the like, mine is the new and improved version. Ignoring the boundaries of time and space, I can sort out all the special memories and feelings and put them into my locket. I can access the most important ones instantaneously; they are right next to my heart. Instead of a fixed amount of emotions, I can add and rearrange them at will. Memories like falling in love and glimpsing a life with another person, your children’s first smile that wasn’t gas, watching a film at the back of the movie house like a teenager, but using your pensioner’s discount – I would keep them. They belong in a locket. My locket is filled with family, friends, and people from support groups, from religion, even therapy sessions. Things change, the universe is in constant flux, but an imaginary infinity locket is a map to help me to find my safe place again. This is not supposed to be a magic trick or a recipe to follow, it merely serves to show yet another way people cope with the curve balls we all have to field.

Whatever method you use to enrich your life, I hope this year will be filled with precious moments.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


Rev. Doctor Gereth Edwards was a practicing plastic surgeon, co-founder of the Netcare Milpark Hospital - Breast Care Centre of Excellence and the Breast Health Foundation. He then refocused his life and qualified as a minister. He writes from both a scientific and humanities view.

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