If we could travel into the past, it’s mind-boggling what would be possible. For one thing, history would become an experimental science, which it certainly isn’t today. The possible insights into our own past and nature and origins would be dazzling. For another, we would be facing the deep paradoxes of interfering with the scheme of causality that has led to our own time and ourselves. I have no idea whether it’s possible, but it’s certainly worth exploring. – CARL SAGAN, NOVA interview, Oct. 12, 1999
If the Universe came to an end every time there was some uncertainty about what had happened in it, it would never have got beyond the first picosecond. And many of course don’t. It’s like a human body, you see. A few cuts and bruises here and there don’t hurt it. Not even major surgery if it’s done properly. Paradoxes are just the scar tissue. Time and space heal themselves up around them and people simply remember a version of events which makes as much sense as they require it to make.” – Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)
Just like we’ve all studied in high school chemistry… “in a closed system”… we are going to just put aside all of that aggravating physics stuff. So you are now looking at your shiny new time machine that you’ve built out of your old washing machine. But what to do with it? Oh I’m sure if you ask all your family and friends you’ll get all sorts of advice, but I think we all have self-serving agendas we’d tackle; Go back to high school and actually catch that game winning pass. Don’t let the “one” slip out of your life. Decisions we’ve all made that we wish we could change. But just to make this interesting, let’s assume that you are aware that this will only work one time, so whatever you decide to do is it. So let’s ignore paradoxes, consequences. Life-altering or no, let’s go…. Forward Into the Past!!!! (Thank you Firesign Theatre.)
It’s all about me!!!!
Let’s forget about everything or everyone else. I’m going back to make things right. Because obviously I know better now don’t I? So, I think I’m going to go back and take that job that I foolishly turned down. Well, again ignore that I would not made all the other decisions that have led me to where I am now. That job had to be the right decision wasn’t it? I think for me the most alluring decision would be to actually try in college. I was just smart enough in high school to make it through without really studying. So no study habits were formed. Ok college not so much. My head spun as all those delinquent assignments went whizzing by me! So, even though I totally enjoyed my Navy days, I think I’d love to really experience a successful bout with collegiate life. Oh and knowing what I know now…
“Here I come to save the day!!!”
So I’m not such a self-centered fellow after all. See I’m going to go and save someone who was killed. Or maybe kill someone who should have been. Do I go back and stop James Earl Ray from killing Martin Luther King Jr? Or maybe I torch the Ford theatre before Honest Abe can attend “Our American Cousin”. But here’s one, I go back and pop a cap in little Adolph’s derriere! That would save a few million innocent people. It’s been said that” behind every good man is a great woman.” Ok, that is a bit sexist, but hey I didn’t make it up. What if behind every tyrant there is another tyrant of greater or lesser evil? Again, not going to get into paradoxes, but I honestly think that offing Adolph would be something that I would definitely consider.
It’s all about me (part two)!!!
Ok this one would probably be the most popular one of all. Just buy the ESPN anniversary issue that has all the sports results of the last 50 years in it! So you go back and head straight to Vegas baby! Oh yeah, well after you went to an antique coin shop and got a bunch of old currency. I’m not so sure that Vinnie in 1975 would take your “Idaho ‘The Gem State'” quarter. Or what if you bought the “Complete History of Jeopardy” Man, wouldn’t you just love to see that smug look on old Alex’s face melt off? “Yeah, could you phrase that in the form of an answer beeotch!” So, are you going to go back and make a killing gambling? Or just wow your friends and amaze all the cute women at the bar with your prognostications? Cults have been formed off less!
Ahhh “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” (Thank you Mel Brooks) This would be a great drinking game. “What would you do if…” For me, I really think it’s simple. I’m a simple man. I think I would just go back to the ‘70s and taste another one of those delicious hoagies on rye from Paul’s Market on Clinton Highway. Man that was some good eatin’.