I once saw, uploaded to YouTube, a hand held video recording of the last live performance of the British band called Japan. This recording was probably made in 1982 or 1983. Even though I was about 2 years old when this recording was made, possibly due to the poor home video-esque nature of the media, I felt like I was there, and that I had witnessed the end of something special and beautiful. I felt a bittersweet stab in my heart. An awareness of the temporal nature of all things in this world washed over me. If it was and is no more, was it ever? Since I witnessed, from a video, the last song of the last performance by Japan, a feel a mourning for what past and will never be again, and a wonder that it ever was. That time has gone never to return. It is the sadness of the passing of time.
Japan's last studio album, Tin Drum, might be one of the best records ever made. I have often wondered and wished that the band had continued making records after this one. Maybe additional albums would never have been as good as Tin Drum, but maybe there would still be some greatness etched into the time travel device that is an album. If I listen to Tin Drum today, it sound like I'm right there where and when it was recorded. It does not change with time. Eventually, it will change, but probably not for several hundred years.
Every moment that passes brings us father away from those good things in our memories. Every moment that passes says "you will never be as close to that time as you once were." We go on and on as far as we can because we cannot control the speed or direction of the constant river of time. We pass tress and landmarks on both sides of the river, and we will never see them again.
If I return to a home I once frequented when I was a child, the space is still there, but change is evident and unstoppable. It's not the same place that I once knew. I can look at a photographic image from the past, but photographs are not the same thing as that which they reflect. They are not real. They do not represent the whole of a place and time.
I frequently chase nostalgia wanting a glimpse of something that has been lost. I desire to touch something that I can never touch again. I believe, from what I have read, C.S. Lewis believed that nostalgia is a window into the truth of God's creation as it should be. Like other forms of beauty, it points to a reality that is, but is also somewhat separate from us in this life. He writes of an idea that when Jesus comes back to the earth, in the flesh, he will restore the good of what once was, but without brokenness and decay. I don't personally know if scriptures point to this in the way Lewis seems to describe. A New Heaven and a New Earth might contain things from the past recreated as they should be with all the good that once was. I'm not sure. It might actually end up as a new New Heaven and a new New Earth not resembling the old in many ways. Either way, we can trust it will be good. We will die and be resurrected, but as for good things from the past, will they die and be resurrected? I believe I read that N.T. Wright thinks there will still be the music of Bach when we are resurrected. But, will there still be the music of Japan with the dodgy buts removed?
But as for now, we have these limited time travel devices. Photographs, videos, sounds recordings. Some reflect the good of the past better than others. None are the real thing, but some stand as a separate work in and of themselves. As a work separated from the time and place they were created, they travel through time unchanging in a universe that is in constant change. Such a work can actually not just remind us of something of the past, but can transport us out of past or future orientation into present orientation. Sometimes, the enjoyment of a good time travel devise, while being enjoyed, actually places one squarely in the present. It can help us, as Tin Drum does for me, to forget the past or future and exist solely in the present. And, we can go back to these devises over and over. They are not like going back to a home from my childhood. They can bring the joy of existing in the present anytime they are experienced.