An odd term, unrelated to insects, but more of a unique physics term that suggests a bridge of two times distant to each other. Wikipedia defines this as “In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a “shortcut” through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional (2D) surface.”
If you know me you will know that I tend to run the other way from deep technical scientific theories, but I wanted to learn more about worm holes because of an article I read on the NPR website today.
In an article titled ‘Rasputin Was My Neighbor’ And Other True Tales Of Time Travel Robert Krolwich introduces the concept in human terms – humans that were alive through two seemingly distant points of time. His first example was of an elderly russian man who said he was the neighbor of the famous russian monk Rasputin. Rasputin earned his notariaty through hobnobbing with the Russian Imperial Family, and made claims to have cured the crown prince Alexei of his hemophelia. Now, some decades later this elderly russian man told stories of encounters with this man.
Its funny. Perhaps i payed more attention to the article because of my passionate interest in Russian history from the late 19th and early 20th century. Since a child I have read voraciously every morsel I could find on the russian Czars and their families. I remember crying and feeling as though an important part of my heritage was destroyed when the Czar was overthrown. And woven into that last monarchy was the story of Rasputin, a monk with a dark and questionable motivation to influence the Czarina which reverberated through all of Russia.
But the wormhole idea – that someone is a bridge from a distant past, and is still living and speaking today is an interesting one to me.
My encounter with the human wormhole idea was a woman named Tillie. In the 1960s she was in her late 70s, a frail woman with a deep russian accent. She mesmerized me because she seemed so secure in herself, and had such a commanding presence, almost to a point of edging into arrogance. But when I asked my parents about this commanding demeanor they explained to me that Miss Tillie had been a stage performer in Moscow, gifted at theatre, and song. And her most memorable performances had been for the Czar Nicholas II and his family. She escaped Russia as a young woman at the start of the revolution, first settling in Paris. France where she sought refuge with the russian enclave there. As she earned money she planned and subsequently booked passage for the USA. Her theatre and musical skills fell short of being realized in the USA, however she maintained her air of destinction for a life of prominance and social standing in a country that rapidly changed. I wanted to learn more russian to absorb her stories, to listen to the fantastic life she lived.
Tillie was not unusual to me. In fact there were several people like this in my church growing up. They had stories and their experience and memory stretched back to a differnt age. Even my own grandparents had stories of leaving the mother land for our shores, and a life of opportunity. The dusty villages of eastern europe untouched by the conveniences of modern life were a very real part of their memory. When I listened to thier stories they were as fresh as if they were yesterday. But the truth is most of what they remember is no more. Rapid changes in the world brought electricity, and the rapid movement of changing technology into beucholic places. I would close my eyes and listen to stories of sleeping in a big feather quilt, with the warmth of the goose down keeping you from freezing through the night when the coal furnace began to cool. And memories of the rag man, who visited and collected all the warn out material and papers from each household. My grandparents entered life when horses ruled the transportation in their village, and they closed their eyes to this life seeing high speed jets.
Wormholes! OK, i get it. I understand that there are people who are a bridge between a past and our present. They bring first hand knowledge of a time that seems ancient to us. And I think they are treasures, gifts that allow us to understand other times, and other ways. They offer understanding, and the eye witness to history from a clear perspective. They bring history to life, because they are living history. They provide a continuity of life. But that is where I scratch my head and ask the question “since when did this become unusual?”
In short order we shall also be the wormholes from an ancient past to a distant future. I wonder if we will seem to be the oddities, wormholes, of a future generation? I wonder if they will want to hear our story, our witness of history, of a time passed?