Remember the Twilight Zone episode entitled “Nick of Time”? Written by Richard Matheson, it’s the tale of Don and Pat Carter (played by William Shatner and Patricia Breslin) who have car trouble in Ridgeview, Ohio. While their vehicle is being repaired, they stop in at the Busy Bee Diner. On the table at their booth is a paper napkin holder that doubles as a fortune telling machine, and Don begins asking it questions.
First Don asks the “mystic seer” if he is going to get a promotion at work. The card says “it has been decided in your favor” and when Don calls his office, he finds the seer was right. Don asks the devilish-looking device more questions, and gradually his wife realizes he’s taking this way too seriously. As more predictions come true (it’s dangerous to leave there before a certain time, and they almost get hit by a car when they don’t heed the warning; they are told their car has been fixed as the mechanic appears with this very information), Don’s questions become more urgent until Pat convinces him to get out of Dodge, so to speak. As they depart, another couple enters the diner, sits at the same table, and furiously begins asking the mystic seer when they can leave town. Don and Pat evidently escape in the “nick of time.”
Driving home from New Mexico a couple of days ago I passed through a number of small towns. “Visit Historic Helper!” said a sign on the side of the highway. I was ahead of schedule so I decided to do just that. It wasn’t long after I took the exit that I felt as though I were either on the back lot of Paramount Studios or in the Twilight Zone myself. I drove for blocks without seeing a person on the street or a moving car. Structures were in disrepair, for sale, and appeared abandoned.
The town, which seems to have been forgotten somewhere around 1939, got me thinking about the passage of time and what we do with it, and the Twilight Zone story made me reassess what’s holding me back from moving forward in life. Am I (metaphorically speaking, of course) reliant on a form of “mystic seer” to make decisions about my future? If I feel, which I sometimes do, that I’ve been stuck in the equivalent of Helper, Utah for way too long, I need to take action to move out of the past and make 2012 the year a new life emerges.
As I neared home, I saw that in Provo Canyon near Sundance, much of Bridal Veil Falls was frozen, as though even nature was suggesting that I’ve been bogged down. The small part that tumbled down freely reminded me there’s a portion of me, too, that is in motion, and in a few months the spring thaw will release a torrent of fresh, life-giving water.
With New Year’s Eve upon us, I encourage you to not just make that resolution to stop smoking or lose a few pounds, but to reassess whether you are living the most fulfilling and productive life possible. What’s holding you back?