Suffering Is a Time Machine That I’ve Been Riding All My Life

Michael Zick
7 min readFeb 5, 2024

The detriments of having an inability to stay in the moment.

Photo by Peter Herrmann on Unsplash

There’s a term for it.

It’s called chronesthesia. The ability to mental time travel to the past or future. It sounds great on paper — like something one of the X-Men would possess or what you’d get by wearing a mysterious watch from another dimension.

But how great is it? What is the cost of delving into chronesthesia too often?


In an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I asked the question, “What does it mean when people say they have the ‘ism’?” You’ll often hear people say they have the “ism,” as in alcoholism.

In that meeting, I heard some great answers: a consistent state of restlessness, irritability, and discontent. A fault-finding mind, and a faulty sense of self-will and general unmanageability. A desire to control outcomes to suit one’s vision.

In short, it reaches beyond an inability to control one’s drinking and into the underlying cause.

For me, the “ism” stands for the Inability to Stay in the Moment. “ISM.”

My ISM is having a mind that uses painful past experiences to project painful future outcomes. It’s using the present moment to prepare for said…