(or that time I traveled through time)
Ever since my dad took me to see the glorious 1985 hit, Back to the Future on the big screen, my fascination with the concept of time travel has been captivated. Being a five-year old kid at the time, the concept of going backwards in time made little, to no sense whatsoever to my fragile and naive little mind. In reality, I was simply enamored by the DMC DeLorean and its wonderful display of flashing lights when that sucker hit 88 miles per hour! Still, I remember getting the basic gist of what was happening: young kid gets in trouble, accidentally travels through time, meets his parents, things go bad, kid has to fix something and somehow get back to the future! That was more than enough to get me to fall in love with this gem of a film. To this day, I swear to the heavens, the hells and to its heathens that I will one day own a DeLorean… oh yes, I will own a DeLorean! And, to this day, I don’t think I’m even close to owning one. Still, that never stops me from aspiring to own one.
Thirty years have passed since that fateful day my dad took me to see the film and, since then, I probably have seen it more times than I can count on my two hands (and feet). It has lead me down that proverbial rabbit hole that has geared me towards the viewing of many other time travel films, such as: Time Bandits, The Terminator, Time Rider, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Philadelphia Experiment, Flight of the Navigator to the more recent; The Time Machine, Primer, Timecrimes, The Time Traveler’s Wife (yep, that one too), Frequency, Hot Tub Time Machine (I know), Oblivion: Edge of Tomorrow, Safety Not Guaranteed, Project Almanac, Predestination, Looper and a slew of others! Having divulged myself in these films, there was a pestering question that always came to mind – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s asked themselves this question: What if?
What if, one day, I step out of my home and there it is, my dream car, a stainless steel DeLorean with the ghost of John Delorean propped up against it and holding a set of keys to the car. My keys! As I approach the man adorning a sly smile with the white powdery substance strewn in and around his nostrils he says to me, “There’s enough plutonium to make two trips.” And with that, he drops the keys into my hands and disappears into a wisp of white, powdery mist.
Here it is, the chance of a lifetime. I have two trips, one of which, of course, is my ticket back to my time – home! But, the pestering question is, where in the hell do I go? Rather, when the hell do I go to?!
I thought about going back to the time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and observe them like the late Steve Irwin (R.I.P.) would have done. It would be both interesting and terrifying! Besides, that would I gain other than soiled underwear and the risk of not having enough room to back up to hit 88 mph in the unpaved prehistoric grounds. No thanks.
Or, what about a historic moment where I can possibly make a difference – bring about some sort of change to this world like putting an end to Hitler before his rise. Or preventing the assassination of JFK – I’m just getting off the kick of watching Stephen King’s 11.22.63 so this idea is fresh in my mind. What about 9/11? Could I go back and possibly do something to change the catastrophic results?
There were many-a-times where I thought that my life, and for lack of a better word, sucked! There, I said it. Like many, I had hopes, dreams, aspirations – big plans when I was in high school! I was going to ride the wagon all the way to Hollywood, become a famous director and live off the fruits of my labor. Of course, it was all a dream back in the day when I used to read Word Up! magazine… wait, what?
The problem with making any sort of attempt to alter the course of history is that we would then suffer the consequences of “the butterfly effect” which is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.*
Having regrets, righting wrongs, saying goodbyes, changing history or simply seizing that missed opportunity; these are probably some reasons where a time machine may be handy. Lord knows I’ve made mistakes in the past and have missed an opportunity or two that could have, possibly, alter the course of my life. Like that time I had an opportunity to intern at a video editing house in NYC while on summer break from college and I let it get away. I kick myself about that fairly often. Or that other time when I had to make a decision to stay living in “upstate” New York or move back into the city with my friends.
Each and every scenario you’re presented with requires perspective. Had any of the aforementioned scenarios been any different, my current life as I know it would cease to exist, sort of like what happened in the film, Mr. Destiny where the main character in the movie felt as if his life was incomplete. He loved his wife and kids but wanted more and so he was given the opportunity to live out a “what could have been” life scenario. Everything was great until he realized that he missed his old life with his wife and kid and this alternate life served as a lesson of “be careful what you wish for.”
Me, well, my life is far from perfect but I am happy with it. I am married to a wonderful woman and we have a beautiful daughter. There is nothing in my past that I would risk going back to and “fixing”. Doing so would theoretically eradicate my current life – my wife and my daughter will cease to exist as a part of my life. My wife could be married to another man, my daughter could be born as someone else or may not even be born at all. Nope, I’m good. Although my life is far from perfect, I do appreciate the good that’s already in this life and it’s something I will never change. I still, however, would love that DeLorean!
What would you do? Would you do anything? Would you change anything?