Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Relativity of Time as it Pertains to Escaping a Black Hole

A Follow-Up to

After writing my previous article, I decided to expand on some of the ideas with a series of articles. In Three Settings on the Dial  I briefly touched on an idea about how a black hole warps everything, twisting and distorting it. It inspired me to do a little bit of research that yielded a whole other set of metaphors which I can use to explain, this time, how it feels to be free of the black hole. 

The first idea I would like to expand on is in regards to the perceived passage of time when you are in the black hole of depression or bipolar disorder, the general feeling of being stuck in tar, watching the world pass you by, without any ability to move with it, and how it serves to reinforce the dampened spirits that keep you there.

This time, I'm going to provide the hard science in which I based my metaphorical allegory first. Let's examine Albert Einstein, arguably one of the greatest minds of all time, in particular, his theory of relativity:  general and special. 

Albert Einstein, in his THEORY OF SPECIAL RELATIVITY, determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and he showed that the speed of light within a vacuum is the same no matter the speed at which an observer travels. As a result, he found that space and time were interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another.  
As he worked out the equations for his GENERAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY, Einstein realized that massive objects caused a distortion in space-time. Imagine setting a large body in the center of a trampoline. The body would press down into the fabric, causing it to dimple. A marble rolled around the edge would spiral inward toward the body, pulled in much the same way that the gravity of a planet pulls at rocks in space.

First, I would like to qualify all of my theories as simply theories, ideas really, intended to reinforce metaphors. I never took physics, and most of what I know about Einstein and his theories came from the Science channel, and Hollywood, with light research to follow. The metaphors I present are allegorical and not intended to have a direct relationship with hard science.

Putting it plainly, the Science channel and movies and TV suggest that the faster you go, the faster ahead in time you go, relative to say, someone who is stationary. Let's say for argument sake, the nearest star is one light year away. If I were to jump into a space ship and travel at the speed of light, it would take one year to get there. However, although I may have only traveled for one year, and be only one year older, everyone on Earth would be much much older. Time would have essentially moved much slower relative to how it moved for me. It makes sense if you look at space and time as two sides of the same coin.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love science, and science fiction. I was raised on films with plots that revolved around space, and time travel, like "Back to the Future:"  a classic. I was always fascinated particularly with films and TV shows where the character would travel back in time and return to the future later to find everything had changed, or travel from their own timelines to the distant future, and again, find everything had changed drastically; friends and relatives had passed, landscapes changed, ways of life forever altered.

One of the worst scars left by the black hole I escaped is a sort of temporal distortion. I am 41 years old, yet I find myself able to relate more easily to much younger people. Not that I don't relate with people my own age, I just feel like I have more things in common with men, for example, who are in their twenties. For years I struggled with it. From the beginning, I knew there was a relationship between my ability to relate to men, and women for that matter, in my own age group, and my disorder; my struggle with the black hole. For the longest time I thought I was stupid. I thought that the medications I had taken over the years had somehow diluted my intelligence. And because of it, my social anxiety spiraled out of control. Once the life of the party, I found myself increasingly more intense at functions, to the point of panic attacks. Eventually I began to avoid social functions, and even now, I still fight with such social anxiety.

It was only after I began my ascent to freedom from the black hole that began to see more clearly. The reason that I feel that I have trouble relating to my peers is because of the special relativity of the black hole. I was caught in its grasp for more than twenty years. It's the only explanation that makes any sense to me. My life slowed to a crawl, my clock nearly stopped. All of my friends however, were going off to college, graduating college, dating, falling in love, getting married, having children, buying houses, etc. Okay, there were a few divorces in there, (maybe even a lot), but the fact of the matter is life was happening all around, but not for me. I was suffering in a black pit, eventually becoming the black hole that oppressed me, drawing in all of my family to the chaotic turmoil within. The reason I relate to younger age groups, especially to males, is because metaphorically, I am the one who stayed on Earth, as opposed to the one in the space ship. Escaping the black hole, my maturity level and way of thinking is more like that of someone in their twenties.

In pondering my ideas for this article, I thought a lot about characters who traveled from the present to the distant future like Buck Rogers. Then I started to remember a movie I had seen in 1992 called Forever Young with Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis. As I do movie reviews on Titanium Toast as well, I can tell you that it is lackluster, milk toast love story which I'm sure Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis are happy to put behind them. However, the plot line lends itself perfectly to allegory about the relative perception of time, that is, being frozen in time. 

In the film, a test pilot in 1938 (Mel Gibson) experiences the loss of his girlfriend and subsequently offers himself to a science experiment in which he is supposed to be literally frozen for one year. There was a problem, and he ends up staying on ice for fifty years. When he is freed by a young boy (Elijah Wood), he is thrust into a future he never expected in his wildest dreams. Life has moved on, everything has changed. All of his family and friends are deceased, But his girlfriend, it turns out, is still alive and the film turns into a quest to find her.

Most of my peers are married with children. They live in nice houses, have really good jobs, nice cars and even rental properties. They have money to invest and take fancy vacations with their families. At this point in my life I have none of that, and I find that because most people I know who are in their twenties and thirties also have little or none of these things, it's easier for me to have conversations with them and relate to them.

Getting out of the black hole was probably the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. But I wasn't prepared for this feeling, and I feel it will take some time and effort to get past. After my last girlfriend, I made a conscious decision not to date anymore until I was in a better place. Now that I am in a better place, I feel like my options are limited, and so I'm finding myself interested in younger women, because from my point of view I am NOT 41, not even 31 it seems, however the dynamics are different when there is an age gap. I don't feel lonely; that part of my brain was turned off for a very long time, but now it seems to be coming back online, which is driving the thoughts that I have missed out on life. Once again, I'm letting my faith lead me. I believe something will happen at the right time, For now, I'm continuing to adjust.