My Time Travel Paradox
September 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
I’m exactly the kind of person that authorities shouldn’t allow anywhere near a time machine. For starters, I’m comically clumsy – I literally can’t be trusted not to “wander off the path” and ruin the present, Sound of Thunder style. I would be that girl who accidentally convinces Monet to abandon painting or Jefferson his political ideals. The risk of time paradoxes and running into myself is too much for me to handle, so my own lifetime would definitely be off-limits (not a huge loss, middle school was awkward enough the first time).
If by some freak accident I was given access to time travel, I’m not sure where I would go. I would end up sitting on the floor, the furthest reaches of time at my fingertips, paralyzed by indecision.
The future is definitely out. Going forward eliminates any pretensions of free will. If the future is not predetermined, then you would just be traveling into an amorphous cloud of possibilities, as useful as daydreams. Personally, I would like to believe that my decisions have weight. If what is going to happen to me is already decided, why even bother in the present? Ignoring paradoxes, I don’t want to know if the future is awful. It might be kind of difficult to return to my daily routine if I knew like the Time Traveler in The Time Machine that the planet was going to become a desolate, crab-infested wasteland. The best part about the future is its undefined nature. For now, tantalizing potential lies latent in all of us, still tightly furled.
The past is equally out. As tempting as it is to relive my favorite moments, I would just extinguish their warmth in my memory. The flavor of the pancakes my dad made every Sunday morning, the crisp crust of first snow beneath my eight-year-old self’s boots, the burn in my chest from laughing until I cried – these sensations are impossible to replicate, especially as a spectator to myself. It would only cheapen their value.
Other eras have too many negatives. Women didn’t have lots of personal freedoms throughout wide tracts of history, so that limits my options. Travel across hundreds of years to become a piece of property? I’ll pass. Dinosaurs kind of creep me out. I don’t think I could pull off a corset or bell bottoms. And what did cavemen eat, raw mammoth? Thanks but no thanks.
Maybe in the end I would choose to visit the Ice Age, some place in time without evolutionarily crucial butterflies I might accidentally crush. I could stand in my home in Chicago and watch as time rushed backwards around me – my sister plumping with baby fat, the building dissembling brick by brick, severed tree trunks reattached to stumps and sucked back into the ground, dust riotously restored to life as graves release their dead, endless prairie rippling around me until sheets of ice cover the earth, translucent and radiant.
Or maybe not. I moved to Nashville to escape the cold, after all.