The Time Traveler’s Lament | 7

C. Louise Williams
3 min readAug 29, 2021


It is rare for me to set deadline’s for myself, dear friend. You may understand — the nature of my profession or rather, perhaps, my condition — is that something as arbitrary as a deadline can seem, ironically, a waste of time to consider. Especially being that one seemingly small event, the temporary departure of a sibling from the home for example, can throw a traveler into the past so fully that it may be days, if not weeks, before I return to the present — where only a few seconds have passed.

In this case, the sound of my sibling’s departure rattles in my mind, echoes reverberating as my body jumps up — my mind following after — to race against time for something to eat in the secure silence that only concrete loneliness can provide.

The aftereffects of such spontaneous travel can be devastating, more so on the lingering guilt of desiring to live only in the absence left by loved ones, as a ghost, but I digress.

Deadlines: the decided end of a particular segment in time. Their construction means that this path that I walk from the present to this chosen point in the future— from A to B, that is — means that I must for the time being live in a linear fashion.

My mind must understand the nature of beginning, middle, and end. And it must accept, somehow, when the end has arrived.

I have chosen a deadline for myself, as I’m sure you have surmised. Samhain 2021 is rapidly approaching in the present, with a little more than a month before the gossamer thin veil between worlds unlooses the incorporeal flora and fauna upon this world.

It is sometimes referred to as the Witch’s New Year, a time to honor the spirits. And I have chosen this day as a marker to honor my own spirit by removing these habits of allowing my space to clutter, my energy to fester and stagnate, my will to fall into idleness and disrepair… to end. In their stead I will cultivate habits that engender openness, a welcoming atmosphere, and clarity, both inside and out of the prism that comprises my material form.

A realization has slowly encroached upon me — I spend so much time dwelling in the past and stepping into the far reaches of the future, that I have neglected the rare and fleeting gem of presence and the present. It is so easy, dear friend, to escape oneself when one has the means.

But just because one can do something — I have come to understand — does not mean one always should.

And so, I am learning to value the air in my lungs, the smells concentrated in this little painted box of a room. I am learning to love the absence of piles of laundry, the capacity to see at a glance what is before me — is the laundry clean or dirty?— with minimal effort.

I am learning to value the act of cleaning and organizing as a ritual in and of itself, as a means of creating and maintaining the shape of the space around me.

When one spends so much effort time traveling, one often neglects the small ways in which we are able to engage with the interdimensional shifts that only a firm grounding in the present can manifest.

That is to say — and I can already feel myself drifting off into a near future where my space is perfectly clean and the sound of water tumbling over rocks in a cheap desk fountain pervades — if the present is the connecting point between the past and the future, then I must make it a point to root myself in that juncture.

This place — the present — to which I return often, never to stay long, but often to contemplate and reflect upon my travels, which is so often populated by relatives and friends that cannot comprehend the places I go when my door is closed to them, must somehow now be opening and welcoming and warm for them .

Even if I am gone myself, I must endeavor to leave in my own wake a present which can engender peace and comfort in the spirit of its natives.

And which, upon my return, welcomes me, for my own sake.