Why Time Travel

September 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

The idea of time traveling to me is always at the middle zone between fantasy and possible reality. I had some vague memories about my science fiction reading when I was at elementary school. Stories such as insects or healthy diets never truly drew my attention, but one story that talked about backwards time traveling built my prime understanding about that topic. I still have the impression of the vivid scene depicted as when people travelled backwards into their earlier life, they turned from adults to infants with their clothes loosening and their fear accruing. Though this perception of time travelling is distorted scientifically, the amazement and thrill aroused by it still echo in my mind today.

But I seriously doubt if people can ever travel backwards. It is not merely a concern out of a potential breakdown of the chain of events, but also we have not yet known anyone who travels back to our time from the future. The other option of traveling into the future can dispel our doubts on casuality, but meanwhile is less exciting given the limited capacity of us to exert influence in that particular time space. For in a large part, the appeal of time travelling lies into throwing self-projection onto time settings in which we have ample knowledge to play the leading role.

In one of my high school English classes, my teacher played the movie Somewhere in Time for us. It basically told a love story that transcended time and death. Lovers were misplaced in different time spaces and could only reunite at their right ages through time travelling. That timing is critical and decides significant life turns for us is a well-known fact. If I were possessed with a time machine, I might use it to experience uncertainties and at some points to alter life path. Still, with time travel, you are not devising life but simply bestowing a wider range of possibilities upon it.

I am thinking about travel in the traditional sense, which is to leave home and pin yourself on a particular point in the 3-D space. I met this girl two years ago in China. She was always on travel, staying at one place no longer than 2 months and then heading for the next shift of her position. At the time that I knew her, she had already been to a little more than 50 countries, mostly by herself and in nearly all of those places, she didn’t speak the language. It amazed me how she had zero knowledge about Chinese, but booked herself a trip with a local travel agency and displayed no concerns or worries. I asked how her life was structured under this frequent impulse of changing positions. She confessed that she did make friends everywhere she went and through those acquaintances, she could better probe into local culture and life pattern. This was where her interests lied. However, life for her, was lonely as she was never able to establish long-term relationship with any community. Even with her parents in LA, she sometimes could not call them in half a year.

I am pushed by this girl to think deeper into what I could do with a time machine. By adding another dimension to travel, shall we become more lonely and lost in this extensive 4-D world? After all, a whole new dimension carries with it inconceivable amount of new points that we can explore, and in that sense, makes people more spread out. It is true that time travel is alluring with the potential of providing experience that is the same as Columbus discovering the new land. However, I now come to realize that this exploratory spirit sometimes might be better checked. In a lot of cases, it won’t make life worse by staying at your own point and not let those possibilities overwhelm you.

Yijing S.


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