The wonder of time travel
I knew I was gawking.
I knew my mouth was wide open, as I stared at the doors.
That pair of great, weather-beaten oaken doors at the front of this magnificent place.
This place of memories.
My cousin and I looked at each other. Our mouths unable to form the words finding their way across our faces.
Countless decades on, we remembered everything, as if it were yesterday morning.
This was last Saturday morning.
He had flown from Canada, to travel back in time whilst we both had the chance.
The first time I had stood here and stared, I was barely 7 years old.
I hadn’t been prepared for these doors to open, and a black-and-white apparition to glide out.
I had never seen a nun before.
Apparently, they had to catch me as my legs gave way.
This was The Convent.
London Colney, Hertfordshire.
And here I would spend the next 7 years of my childhood.
Here, my cousin, my sister and I would join the rat-pack of children whose parents couldn’t care for them.
Here we would learn to climb holly and oak trees, collect world-beating conkers, build crystal radio sets, ride “look-no-hands!” on bikes too big for us.
Here hide-and-seek, amongst corridors, cloisters, trap doors and hidden attics, could last a whole day.
Here we would roam meadows full of flowers and fields full of cow-pats, and islands and moats and spinneys and glades and streams.
In a 70 acre playground where every day was an adventure. And every apple, gooseberry and greengage was there for the ‘scrumping’.
Here we would make our own toffee, churn our own butter, milk our own cows; catch our fish and kiss our convent girls.
Here we would cry for our parents.
But here we were loved and taught by amazing nuns who created a world of consistency for our confusion, caring for our chaos.
We were The Convent Kids.
At noon, we started to head back down the long, straight, tree-lined driveway; grudgingly heading home to West Sussex.
As we turned to gaze back one last time, I asked my cousin: “If you could go back in time… what would you tell that little boy?”
And we discussed the wonders, astonishments, tears and laughter, loves and losses, heartaches and triumphs of our life.
So, here’s the question:
“If you could come back in 5 year’s time.
If you could walk and talk with the person you are in business today…
What would you say?
What hope would you be able to provide?
What perspective and insights would you give?
What would you say about the fears sitting in your breast right now?
What would you say about the decisions you’re about to make today?”
Some may see this as a futile exercise in imagining what can never be.
All of us have experienced moments when our inklings, our intuition, our heart…
knows things that our mind – and our wavering courage – is not ready to accept.
We instinctively see what we will have to face up to a year from now.
If we would listen more to these promptings, I believe we would find more joy.
I believe we would save ourselves many wasted months and years.