The aliens had captured Sisko. They were more evolved creatures than us humans.
For instance, they experienced time differently to how we do.
They experienced it simultaneously. Past, present, future – to them, it was all one.
They decided to kill this lesser being, who moved through time in a linear fashion – one moment after another.
They studied Sisko. They pitied his limitations. They planned his destruction.
But then they noticed something.
He kept returning to a traumatic moment in his past. It would flash back in his mind.
Sisko would respond to it physically. Sometimes he would scream.
The aliens became curious. They witnessed his suffering and made a startling realisation.
“The past”, they said. “He exists there.”
They saw that this human was more like them than he first appeared. He jumped through time too, much like they did.
They reprieved Sisko and set him free.
That was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In real life, we are the much same.
Our bodies move through time step by step. But our minds leap all over the place.
Many of us long to be in the moment.
Yet we follow our minds into time travel, both past and future.
We recall a conversation from yesterday and worry that we may have said the wrong thing.
We fast forward to an event tomorrow, and get anxious that it may not go well.
From time to time, the moment we are in produces its own suffering.
Yet so much of our suffering involves the moments we are not in.
Stranger still, a lot of our suffering involves moments that never happen at all. Our imagined, scary futures that never come to pass.
What saved Sisko torments the rest of us.
Imagine if we abolished this time travel that we do. With it, we would abolish a torrent of human suffering.
Imagine if the only suffering we go through is that which we currently experience.
What if every time we caught our mind time travelling, we brought it back to this precise moment, and focused there instead.Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice