Often times I think to myself, “I wish I could have seen Anne Boleyn’s coronation,” or “Wouldn’t it be grand to go back in time and attend an Inkling meeting?” or “I yearn to see the Allahakberries play cricket!”
It is times like these when I wish I had a time machine. Things in the past often seem brighter and more glamorous than the present, and experiencing iconic history is something I’ve dreamed of for … ever.
Knowing that I can’t will sometimes make me a bit blue, and to counter these bouts of born-in-the-wrong-century-depression I’ve come up with a list as to why time travel would not be a good thing:
Traditionally, the time machine only transports the user back in time, but doesn’t alter their location (for this to happen it would have to be a dual time travel and teleporter.) Even if I could get my hands on a time machine, I’d have to travel to England first, and take it with me… And I really, really doubt a time machine would get through customs easily.
Time travel would come with the power of altering history. What if I accidentally destroyed Lewis and Tolkien’s friendship with a stupid comment from the future? Would The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia still be written? Would Lewis still broadcast hope to the world during WWII? What if, at Anne’s coronation, Henry caught my eye and made me become his mistress, and I was responsible for Anne’s execution by replacing her and Jane Seymour? What if I cheered so loud for little J.M. Barrie that he didn’t pay attention and the cricket ball hit him in the head and he died? These are not good things.
What if I died? Going back in time, especially to Tudor England, would have its health disadvantages. Plague, sweating sickness, lack of antibiotics, heads rolling everywhere… If I died during my time travel, what would happen? Would I die in this world, too? Would I never be born? Would my death just result in being thrown back into the present?
[What is Libby going on about?]
History could be different from what I thought. Maybe Anne Boleyn really was a home wrecker instead of the independent woman I’ve come to know and love. Maybe Tolkien was rude and pompous. Maybe Christopher Robin hated his father, A.A. Milne, for basing a lovable children’s character off of him. Maybe Cromwell had nothing to do with Anne’s execution. Would these ruin my perceptions of these people? Would I hate myself for allowing this to happen?
How could I get back? Logically, you have to be with the time machine to use it. It can’t be remotely operated, so you’d have to bring the machine with you back in time, plus keep it a secret. Can you imagine if Henry VIII was accidentally transported to my home? Or worse, 1970s New York?
[That's it. She's having eternal tea time with the Mad Hatter.]
The government. If they found out, they’d probably lock me up and use the time machine to stop awful national tragedies from occurring. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not a bad thing. But remember what I said about changing history? WWI and II are now part of our very identities as North Americans. Who would we be without it?
Money. Again with the secret thing. You could make big bucks from this machine. Do you know how many people would want to go back in time to go to an Elvis concert or shake Kennedy’s hand? Or kill Bush? Or stop rap music from happening? Or to prevent the heartbreak of a high school sweetheart? Millions. Billions. You cannot have that many people zipping back and forth in time.
Alternate realities. If you changed something in history, would that just be creating an alternate reality? A dimension where you were married to a man you didn’t love, and a dimension where you were married to your true love? You wouldn’t be aware of the you that was happily wed. As far as you’re concerned, your life would still suck. Granted, you would be happy in some reality… Would you be aware of your attempt to fix your life? Would you just think you failed, or are you fixing the dimension you’re in and sending another you into the world that’s less than daisies and roses?
Now my head is just starting to hurt. Time for some turkey. And gravy. Lots and lots of gravy.
[If you read this whole post in all its ridiculousness, you and I must be kindred spirits or you must have nothing better to do on Thanksgiving weekend. I'm thankful for you!]