A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out of my garage on a typical summer's morning on my way to work. As I backed down the driveway in my usual rush, I suddenly stopped, and had one of those movie moments. My eyes were wide and my mouth hung open as I gazed upon a beautiful modified DeLorean gleaming in the morning sun.
I got out, and looked it over, touching the heavy metal and strange fittings on the back. Of course it was the time machine from Back to the Future. In. My. Yard.
I should have known something like this would happen. I had a dozen Stanford engineers staying with us as guests of my son Forest. My house had turned into a veritable dorm of creative geekyness . I loved it. It had already been like going back in time. I was with my tribe. These were people who could talk in movie or sci fi, and viewed recipes as mere guidelines. They got up early; they stayed up late. They thought about the big topics. And they incessantly made things. Indeed one certain engineer who drove here had taken upon himself to obtain a DeLorean and modified it to the specs of the time machine in Back to the Future, all for fun !
But let me tell you... such an object can fuel the fire of imagination in one such as me. As if a house full of fellow alumni wasn't enough to provoke nostalgia and inspiration, this DeLorean sent me over the top.
As I sat down in the drivers seat, I half expected to see two devices for inputting dates, and had a little pang of disappointment when I did not. Nonetheless, I jumped immediately to deciding what date to put in. It didn't take me long. 1979. August 1979 for sure. If I could go back to then.... wow. So much to think about.
I carried on and went to work, my mind humming. I enjoyed our phenomenal guests for a good couple weeks. They were sad to leave, and we were sad to see them go. But they left us for cool jobs in Silicon Valley and that was exciting. Moreover, they left us with good memories and lots to think about.
I tried hard to think about exactly what I would have done differently in 1979. But I did not do this as an exercise in futility. I realized that thinking about traveling back in time could be, if done correctly, a powerful exercise with lessons for the only thing that mattered: the present. I soon realized that everything I could have done then I can do now, just translated into the present context . Nothing of me has been lost since 1979. I'm still me, but with a much expanded set of skills. I just needed to be reminded of all this.
All I needed to travel back (and forth) in time was the company of some kindred spirits and a good imagination. A shiny DeLorean time machine didn't hurt either.