Flashpoint or How Time Travel TV Made Me Question My Mortality

My nickname is SuperScott. I don’t know when it started, but I know it definitely stuck after a friend of mine joked he’d turn around to ask me a question and I was off running to help someone at a leadership camp we were both aiding. I was seventeen and I have to admit, I was more than okay with it. I definitely lucked out better than Chiquita, Sasquatch and Twinkletoes (they fell into lava pits, but that’s a story for another time). After all, my first superhero I followed in the comics was a certain benevolent caped do-gooder with a taste for journalism.

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Gee. Didn’t need X-Ray vision to see that one coming.

Needless to say, I’m a sucker for superhero stories. And I’m sure I’ll talk about The Big Blue Boy Scout (and Christopher Reeve) another time. Today, I’m actually thinking a lot about one of Supes’s buddies in the Justice League. Considering I’ve gained a deep appreciation for forensic science and police investigations in the last ten years, it’s strange to me that I never followed Barry Allen and his fast friends in the comics. But The CW managed to reel me in with the fun (DC can be whimsical? Really?) first few episodes of The Flash.

Good thing, too. I needed The Flash yesterday. I didn’t have a great morning, with an unexpectedly early wakeup from Jaime due to Optimum cutting our wifi. They claimed we owed a LOT in overdue bills, but when logged in to our account, it registered nothing as overdue.

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I didn’t even need coffee to get this look in my eye after a half an hour on the phone trying to get a human rep.

I’m not going to get into the details of the argument, but needless to say it was incredibly frustrating and set the overcast and grim looking day with an air of disappointment. The good news is, I DID get to field test the Dacron holding my heart together for the first time, as I really haven’t been able to (or needed to) get angry since returning from the hospital. My heart did NOT explode after a heated call to Optimum so I’ll take that as a win.

Jaime is going to read this and give me The Look for cheering raised blood pressure, so I’m going to move on…

I realized recently that I’m really out of returning shows to follow this fall, outside of Flash. Then I read about Frequency, a re-imagining of a pseudo-time travel story that I have a soft spot for. I think to myself, “Well, that’s convenient- guess I’ll tune in to give it a shot and hope they don’t mess it up!”. Promos seemed to run on every other youtube video for Timeless on NBC. The first episode involves time travelers mucking about with the destruction of the Hindenburg. Considering I’m A) a history nerd B) that grew up 15 minutes from the place where the zeppelin blew up, C) fully support Eric Kripke after he did six great seasons on Supernatural and D) love time travel, I gave the show a shot. It was fun! The pilot definitely threw a lot of exposition in and I don’t feel like the episode gave us a lot of good reasons for some of the characters to be there, I’m sure that will evolve over time.

Look, I am fully aware that Timeless is basically a B-movie serial and Flash is a CW mashup of comic book action with soap opera subplots. Breaking Bad, they are not.

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But you know what they are? Mental escapism. It’s tv that doesn’t remind me of the political climate, the idiotic and dangerous clown sightings that keep popping up, the Yankees disappointing season, and the bills I have to pay. They’re shows that let us suspend disbelief and ask ourselves ‘what if?’. What if I could go back and see this or experience that? Would I like my parents when they were my age or would I have survived in that time period? I like that. Doctor Who. Back to the Future. Hell, I was an original Sliders fan! For these creative balms, I forgive Flash and Timeless and their kind of a lot of their production or logic-based sins.

Tonight’s premiere episode of The Flash dealt with Barry’s (poor) choice to change his personal history and-

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God, fine! Go catch up on Season 2. I’ll just wait here.

-well, it doesn’t go smoothly. Lives are changed due to the fact that Barry didn’t become The Flash and bring together his friends and family in the same way. They pulled a Back to the Future 2, with a split timeline slowly overwriting Barry’s memories. The supporting characters (Caitlin, Cisco, Joe) aren’t given much to do and the entire episode’s new reality feels rushed but still, it was a fun return to comic book dramatics.

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This is heavy…

In a previous attempt to fix some super-villain problems, Barry runs so fast, he sees an echo running alongside himself.

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This is what my life has felt a lot like in many ways, like I’m running alongside myself, questioning my choices, wondering if I had done something differently, my future might be better. Could I have made better decisions to avoid an aortic dissection? What if I HAD known I had this coming- would I have been better off or would I just have lived in constant fear that the damage would form at any moment? I don’t know.

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Metaphoric health bullet dodge courtesy of the CW.

See, as a kid, I looked at my mom’s side of the family as the guideline of what to expect. I was close to them, so I figured maybe I’ll get to be like my grandfather some day and have all of these stories I can share to the grandkids. He’s had his share of health problems over the years but he always recovered. I don’t know why I held to this almost child-like belief that my lifespan could somehow be estimated by looking at my grandparents. Especially when you consider my father’s side of the family…well, let’s say the men tend not to age as well apparently.

So here I am, 32 years old, a month our from my wedding and hopefully a couple of years from starting a family. Enter- the major health crisis. Let’s call that my Flashpoint- where my timeline, my life, skews off into a completely new direction. My previous hopes for a family are now potentially dangerous and on top of it, lead to the bigger, more dramatic revelation.

I’m basically mid-life. And that’s if I’m lucky. I’m 32. Let’s assume I have kids that are healthy enough to reach my current age. I’ll be in my mid 60s. By that point, I will have spent as much time with my repaired heart as I did with my undamaged heart prior to the surgery.  I’m not great with numbers, but the odds of making it that far without health complications seem…well, I beat astronomical numbers once. I don’t know how many more times I can get lucky as I get older.

This, of course, operates under the premise that medical advancements don’t lead to some kind of nanite technology that will keep my heart pumping for fifty years. I know Bart and Jaime were both quick to point out that the advances just in the last 20 years have been dramatic, so who knows.

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Smug son of a gun ain’t he?

The realization that I may be running out of time while I’ve got a million things to do has not been lost upon me. I’ve got a binder of short story, novel and script ideas that aren’t written. I’ve got a 40 Before 40 list of goals that I now need to re-evaluate. How many books do I need to read, how many picture haven’t I taken yet or movies absorbed? I haven’t even mentioned the book series Bart and I have painstakingly written, re-written, expanded and planned. I want to have children. I want to teach great future minds and shape them into caring, smart people. I want to travel more and spend more time with friends and family. Now I feel like I have even less time than before.

In a way, that’s terrifying pressure to be under and may be a source of some of the depression I’ve been battling. On the other hand, it feeds into that ‘you know you need to make your time count’ state of mind.

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My life changed the moment those doctors fixed my heart. The future I planned can’t be the same. I’m not the same person I was before I went into the hospital and even the same person for those first couple of weeks back. I’ve been given Perspective, and it’s both a gift and a curse. I have so much to be grateful for, and when I think about how I’m worried about the lack of years I have left, the little voice in my head scolds me for not realizing that some people on that floor I recovered on won’t get half as many years. That well over 90 percent of people with this kind of injury don’t get to have mortality debates.

The Flash’s solution to fixing his timeline issue involved running fast enough to make a horrible sacrifice in the interest of restoring his world. It doesn’t work as he planned. But TV (like life) has to have those twists to keep you interested.

I wrapped up therapy and went for a walk on the Point Pleasant boardwalk, a place I grew up around and which is usually fairly empty at this time of year. I put on some music and just enjoyed the breezes from the ocean. The skies still looked ominous and when I reached my usual stopping point by the end of the boardwalk stands, it looked ready to rain at any moment. I decided to keep going though, past the residential homes. The boards were covered in sand and footing got shaky at times, but I kept going. I wanted to see where the boardwalk ended.

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Pictured: a real Jersey Shore kid. Ignore the MTV/SNL stereotypes.

Somehow, despite dozens of visits to Point Pleasant, I never walked to the end of the path. I was happy to learn that there is a bench that overlooks the spot where the inlet and the Atlantic Ocean meet. I sat there, enjoying the siren song of the pounding surf, and I felt more peaceful than I have in a long time. As I got up to leave, moments after this picture was taken, the skies began to clear up. Rather rapidly, as a matter of fact- there’s a hurricane blowing south of Florida and that’s likely the reason for the high waves and gloomy clouds.

As I returned to my car, blue skies poked through the silver and gray ceiling and I swear, it was so vibrant, I actually got choked up. The past week has been overcast and depressing, and this beautiful cerulean sky just felt like it was appearing at exactly the right time.

This was the longest walk I’ve managed so far and I was barely winded. And that rain that seemed so imminent that I wondered if it was worth it to go walking?  It never really materialized.

I’m sure there’s a message in there somewhere, if I look hard enough.

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You said it, Flash.

Until next time,
S

reelheart

 

 

 

 

 

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