Flying DeLoreans and Time Travel

You don’t play the lottery because you don’t believe the chances are good enough to win. But that doesn’t stop you from dreaming about what you would do with the money if you won. This is how I feel about the 2012 Doomsday scenario.

Science, history, and common sense tell me that nothing is going to happen on December 21st. But that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing. Student loan debt? Gone. Mortgage? Smell ya later. But there’s a trade-off, you see. While I may no longer have to pay my cell phone bill, I now have to send my messages via carrier pigeon. And instead of defending my home against termites, I now have to defend my home against roaming cannibalistic gangs.

Life is a struggle, I suppose. You take the good with the bad. I often ask myself: Who had it better? Science has provided us healthcare on a practically magical level, but native people from centuries ago had complete autonomy. I often dream of travelling back to the past, sitting around a camp fire with an indigenous group of people, and telling stories about the future.

“What’s the year 2012 like?”

“It’s great. Indentured servitude is all the rage, and he have pills that make avoiding our emotions pretty easy.”

It’s not his fault, but Stephen Hawking disappointed me with his time-traveler party. At least, it doesn’t seem possible to travel backwards through time. However, traveling forwards in a possibility as long as you don’t mind not being able to ever come back to the time you started in. These videos occasionally pop up on YouTube: Time Traveling Revealed! It’s usually a video of what looks like someone using a cell phone in a film from the 1930’s. All these videos really prove is that people don’t understand how cell phones actually work.

Still, there’s something alluring about the idea of time travel. The occasional mysterious person always manages to make people ask questions and whisper conspiracy. Even though I check the classifieds every day for a used flying DeLorean, more stories and real-life accounts suggest that it’s done without any machines.

Perhaps by thinking of time as linear, we’re limiting ourselves to how we think about time travel. Maybe time is more like a series of frames that are stacked on top of one another, and it’s a matter of slipping into another dimension. After all, time doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s more like an invisible presence that everything else is affected by. I’m not really a believer in ghosts as the spirits of the dead, but maybe they’re something that got caught between two frames – just a repeating image that got left behind.

Then again, the explanation is probably somewhere between science and science fiction (which is always my favorite place to go for answers). I think you need a little fact and a little philosophy to broaden your horizons sometimes. One of my current obsessive thoughts has to do with the power and the accuracy of memory. I wonder how much of my memories are distorted or even completely false. What if I’ve tricked myself into believing something that never actually happened?

These thoughts paired with reading through a few time travel claims got me thinking about Philip K. Dick’s story ‘We Can Remember it for you Wholesale’. Maybe through some sort of transcendental meditation, something much deeper than subconsciousness, we can actually dig into our memories and alter them. It may be possible to add memories of moments that never happened or even forget them completely. Have you ever had a dream that affected you so greatly, that you go so far as to treat the person who was in the dream differently when you wake up? Even though the logical part of your brain tells you your wife is loyal, the parts that created the dream are telling you she’s a cheating whore. The mind has real power to create.

But what if you got so deep into the memory that you weren’t just reliving the memory but reliving the actual past? If you were able to alter your memory perfectly so that you couldn’t tell the difference between changing your memory and changing the past, there wouldn’t be much difference.  If our senses tell us what is real and what isn’t and those experiences instantly become memories, then reality becomes somewhat subjective. Anything becomes possible. Or WAS possible.

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