Do Overs: If I Had a Time Machine

The idea of a time machine is hardly new to science fiction stories.  Time machines have existed on paper since the advent of the genre, thanks to seeds planted by such illustrious names as H. G. Wells. Anyone who has any interest in science fiction has at one time read a story, or seen a TV show or movie, where time travel is part of the plot.  I could make a long list of time-travel adventures, but tonight I want to share something different.  I want to focus on the reason we enjoy these stories.

The chance to relive a moment, to correct a mistake, to be once again with someone we miss, perhaps someone we failed to appreciate or save-these are the hoped-for outcome of traversing time.  To see history in the making, or prevent a tragedy, to save lives, or stop a madman; who wouldn’t take that chance if it was offered to us?

I’m sure I would consider it, despite the risks.  And for anyone who’s ever known a story of time travel, there are risks.  There’s the chance that something could be changed that absolutely shouldn’t, that would have a negative impact on everything that comes after.  How would you live with the knowledge you made the wrong choice, that you actually made the world a worse place?  Perhaps it’s a good thing time travel only exists in stories.

Still, who among us doesn’t long for a chance at a do-over of some kind?  Who wouldn’t like a chance to go back, make a different choice, take a different path?  Who has absolutely no regrets?

I don’t intend this to sound morbid or depressed.  I’m not talking earth-shattering changes here, just simply something we all we had done different.  But that’s how we learn isn’t it, from mistakes, and regrets, and lost chances.  The key is to learn and grow, and consider each opportunity as it comes to us.

Until a time machine becomes available for us to use, take time to consider your choices, and live each moment to the fullest.  Thanks for reading.



One thought on “Do Overs: If I Had a Time Machine

  1. Confessions of a vicarious time travel junkie

    He slapped a full magazine hard against a log, jammed it into the well and racked the bright metal nub that serves as a charging handle on the Pistolet-Pulemet Sudaev m1943. My eyes grew wide, because he could not have been more than 10 years old and the PPS43 is a submachine gun. I assumed it was loaded with blanks but that was little comfort as I watched him charge into the woods, a cascade of shiny brass shell casings trailing in his wake. Aside from the fact that live rounds have a way of getting accidentally hidden in box magazines, blanks can kill too.

    A short while later the boy returned, picked up a rifle and waved it at me! It’s mostly gray after that. Was it the harsh, Makhorka wrapped in that unread copy of Pravda, which always makes my head swim, or maybe the vodka? Or perhaps it it was just the kid with the machine gun. I can’t say. I do recall that at the end of the day we formed a handshake line, Gvardeytsy and SS Schützen in a surreal pantomime, our version of a long ago war of genocidal savagery. It was also the last time I did historical reenacting for “fun” and I felt pretty silly.

    As historians and novelists from David Hackett Fischer to Harry Turtledove have noted, contingency so often DOES shape events through time. And no matter what the outcome, regret is just one of the many feelings evoked by the experiences that result.

    I can’t speak for others, but the past and the feelings that always seem to go with it have ruled my soul: reflection, remembrance, sorrow that I can’t relive it, a desire to experience all that has been, all those moments of all people “lost in time, like tears in rain.” And this melancholy yearning, this longing-what a thoughtful friend once called “the will to be satiated”-it’s been a drug for me, throughout my life. Always dwelling on the past, I pushed out everything else.

    So I’ve been in need of a curative-a sort of philosophical rehab, if you will. And I’ve discovered that eastern thought provides unique answers: Past, present, future they are all part of the indefinable but universal path of life. So they are not really bound to a linear sequence and they are all, always with us-just as we ourselves are part of this eternal way. There is, furthermore, always an ebb AND flow to this path. Whatever decisions we make, however much they alter the trajectory of events, that which is empty will surely again be full, for emptiness, loss, triumph, tragedy, indeed the act of reflection itself-are only possible because of the existence of their opposites.

    That is to say-I put aside my yearning to relive the past with the awareness that the past forever abides with us and, whatever we may do, we cannot possibly change the direction of the universal path. It is rather, only by bringing ourselves into harmony with it that we realize our true purpose.

    That’s how I look at it anyway. Others are certainly free to disagree, but it’s provided real catharsis for me.



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