A Back to the Future Parable


“Hey guys, you gotta get back in there and finish the dance.”

“Hey man, look at Marvin’s hand. He can’t play with his hand like that, and we can’t play without him.”

“Yeah well look Marvin, Marvin, you gotta play. See, that’s where they kiss for the first time on the dance floor and if there’s no music they can’t dance and if they can’t dance they can’t kiss if they can’t kiss they can’t fall in love and I’m history.”

Marty McFly faces obliteration of self. He teeters on not just unexisting, but on having never existed. Erasure from history, from the minds of others that mark us with meaning. His body and being waver. His desperation is palpable.

“Hey man, the dance is over, unless you know somebody else that can play the guitar.”

He is given a miraculous invitation to a way forward, and he discovers he already possesses the key to travel this path. He has had this key from the beginning, but did not anticipate such purpose for it, even up to the moment of need. It has remained underused, untapped, due to fear. And now he discovers its life-saving powers, encased in mundane spaces. What other possibilities exist in our world’s familiar inhabitants, waiting to be unlocked?

Marty cannot rescue himself alone. He must create a conducive climate, but others are required to willingly enact their own destinies. Their falters threaten to betray him, but purer forms than ever shine through and he arises, saved, brighter than ever from having brushed a death more than death.

“Yeah, man, that was good. Let’s do another one!”

“Nah, ah, I gotta go.”

“Come on man. Let’s do something that really cooks.”

Survival is not enough. The goal is to relish: a mind-body connecting with other mind-bodies through play. Expression can be withouting a within, or withining a without, and sometimes there is not a clear demarcation between these. We become overwhelmed by our hearts as they grow beyond us.

This sound is what victory over oblivion feels like. Jubilance.

“Chuck! Chuck! It’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to this!”

Our fates are not ours alone. We cannot foresee their full implications. In freeing ourselves, in celebrating our lives, others may find their way too. We do not know what and how our doings matter.

“Marty that was very interesting music.”

The ecstatic expression of being alive overwhelms the veneer of belonging to a certain time and place. It spills over the borders of human and self. The friction between locality and universality splinters expression into rougher chunks still molten from the forging flames of their vibrant source. What strangeness results may yet have a place in future worlds.

Sometimes to be one’s self is to not belong. Sometimes to be one’s self is to proceed in unforeseen directions. Sometimes a person is unexpectedly a herald of unimagined states that may yet come into being. Sun Ra: “The possible has been tried and failed. Now it’s time to try the impossible.”

A Johnny B. Goode awaits in all of us.