I happened to see a brief exchange of messages on Facebook by one of my friends. The comments had to do with time travel. In the exchange he mentioned that he had been studying the topic quite a while and believed that such travel was possible. He thought at some future date it would be proved to be feasible, and at some date in the distant future it would be practiced. Until then, I guess it can only be experienced in some video games.
Of course to be transported into the past or future you need a time machine. Jumping into that machine and going either forward or backward has specific issues associated with them, over and above the general concept. If one goes back in time, could someone do something that would alter the future of the person who was transported back in time? Could that action be something that would preclude them even being born, and, if so, wouldn’t the whole idea of them traveling back in time be moot? Then again, if one travels into the future, wouldn’t they be traveling to a time when they didn’t exist since they would have previously died? And even if all that could be overcome, who is to say how they would fit in with that future environment? How much would our language have changed? Would they be able to cope with the technology then in place? Who is to say the United States would even exist as a nation? If in the intervening years there was a worldwide nuclear war; there might not be much left to visit. No doubt there are answers for these questions. As for the other issues, I leave them to scientists and dreamers.
But as I thought about it, I realized that there is a time machine and we are in it, or more specifically on it. It is this earth and our life on it. One of the main features of time travel in a magical machine is that being transported from here to there is instantaneous. Living here on earth is much slower (kind of like the horse and buggy as opposed to a jet plane) and you can’t travel you too far into the future (nature takes care of that). On earth your trip lasts as long as you live. And whereas in time travel you pass all the intervening years getting from here to there in the blink of an eye, time travel on earth allows you to experience every moment of the trip, every moment you are alive.
Personally, I prefer earth travel than time machine travel. Each day, each year, each lifetime is filled with pleasures and problems. Traveling years and decades while here on earth allows us to experience each one. Even if we jump ahead into the future and return to the same moment that we left, we still would not avoid them. Whatever the situation today, at least we know our circumstances and what is happening. We move one day at a time, not in decade or century gulps. The future may be bright or bleak; I’d rather not know. I’d rather deal with the here and now than the unknown.
As for traveling into the past, I know some about it and don’t think I need to know a great deal more than what I have lived and read about in history books. Scientists may want to know our lineage back to our beginnings, but I’m ok not knowing. In spite of writing about being able to talk to someone in the past, my life won’t change if I don’t. Besides, I may find out something about my ancestors that I’d rather not know.
So I will continue to take my trip into the future on the time machine Mother Earth. My only regret is that for me, the trip will end much sooner than I would like.