So I’ve been watching SyFy’s 12 Monkeys series and it, like anything involving space and time travel got me thinking:
What would I change if I could?
They say, you cannot change the past, you can only learn from it. Sure, I learned a lot. I learned I made poor an ill advised decisions in my life that lead me to my current situation. Aimless wanderer at 30 and not that charming handsome witty manic pixie dream type of wanderer. I’m that confused, angry, sleepy, constantly hungry and enjoys drinking type of wanderer. A proto-hobo if you will. I have enough time (WAY TOO MUCH) time to think about life and the things that have brought me to where I am and have systematically, neurotically picked it all apart, putting the pieces out onto a nice and rows and categories like: shitshow, disaster, that was a good time, never again, what were you thinking, oh man that was a good time and so on. In that time, I managed to pinpoint the moment I would change if given the opportunity to go back and do it.
Time travel gets a bad rep. We think it should be used for the greater good but in fact it will be used for whatever good that suits the user; so it’s still the greater good, it’s just not YOUR idea of the greater good.
One has to keep in mind that the rules are spelled out: you cannot change something MASSIVE because of the butterfly effect it will have on the present. Ir can dramatically alter the timeline you are traveling from that can cause a dramatic rip in your own timeline. You can end the world. You can end the sandwich. Pizza won’t be invented. The variations are catastrophic.
I’d go back in time and fix a few things.
I figured out the most crucial one is where I went to college. I picked a janky school because it was what I could afford and they offered a scholarship. That was mistake number one: I let money get in the way of my progress.
So. New college.
That means new people yeah? Of course.
I still believe that there are some people that I was supposed to meet and be friends with and those are the people I met in the college I wound up in. HOWEVER. In my fantasy alternate true time travel reality however. I would’ve met much more diverse people, encouraging people, interesting people.
I would’ve met douchebags and wondered if the grass was greener.
The next big thing would be what happened in my relationship. Sure, I went to a different school, I met different people, I didn’t wind up on my career path and I didn’t meet Waffle. The twist is this. I was always going to meet Waffle. Our paths are just designed that way. Once I dropped down in my next timeline for repair, the first thing I’d do is avoid ever type of argument that popped up. We fought over stupid things, the way people in love do. The whole thing would’ve been repaired before it started to get nutty. I mean a complete personality overhaul. I was quite lousy (work was getting to me) and things were feeling forced. Instead of asking for daily meet ups after work, once a week, a big grand adventure; doing nothing, maybe everything…It would be completely different.
So now I’m in a paradox. The fork in the road. I can only go back once to repair the damage my present timeline is facing. What do I do? Do I go to a better school finally get a degree and have a career? (Currently I’m ass deep in student loan debt like the rest of the country) Do I get to see the world in this timeline? Will I finally get shitfaced in London like I’ve always dreamed of? Ride the Tokyo Bullet Train and sip sake while trying to speak to a business man who keeps asking if I’m yakuza because I have tattoos. (Dear GOD let me have tattoos in this timeline!) Do I fulfill the greater good and complete my personal goal of perceived success or do I fulfill the thing I didn’t know I needed like having a relationship with someone who I adore more than travel and whiskey. (I LOVE WHISKEY)
Here’s the thing.
Either opportunity is life changing. Either move I make will dramatically change everything. They are all self-serving. They are all moves I make for myself like a chess master.
There is always, of course, the third thing.
My brother was critically injured in 2003. He broke is neck. He became an incomplete quadriplegic, meaning he has full function of his upper body to a degree and minimal function of his lower half. He suffers from muscle spasms. He is nothing short of a miracle. He was supposed to be dead. If I went back, to the moment I made the choice to go to a different school, what would happen to him? Is that the butterfly effect that I fear? Instead of surviving and being the strange miracle that he is (he builds computers, has a bunch of girls squabbling for him and pretty much beats every video game I get him) would he be worse? Would he be better? Would he be dead? If I go back and prevent the accident, what then? Does his life improve?
Instead of being self serving, picking a better school, saving my relationship (I’d still do that, fuck school, I’m too cool to go back) I would save him. Is that decision self-serving? Probably. It would save my family a shitload of trouble and probably drastically alter everything that follows.
The thing with time travel and the ethics with it is that no matter how you look at it, it’s still never going to work out entirely the way you want. It never does. It’s nothing to do with ripples, echoes or butterfly effects but everything to do with choice; there are people who are predisposed to making bad choices, wrong choices or choices with no concept of consequences. There are people who make them together, or make them alone but they happen. Time travel doesn’t account for this, time moves forward and backwards and if you subscribe to the extra creepy notion that there is someone, an alternate you, living the life you could’ve had if you’d made THAT choice, time travels like a spider web. Keeping that in mind, there’s always the possibility that your alternate timeline crosses your current one (deja vu) and you have an immediate choice to make; these choices dramatically influenced by BOTH parts of YOU, the one that made the right choice, the one that makes the logical choice. When both of YOU agree, you’ve merged a timeline and create a whole new paradox. Let’s say successful you and mediocre you are now a super saiyan and you’ve reached 9000. You’ve learned everything you need to know about time travel. Right? No. Of course not because somewhere in there is another ripple, another rift, another choice someone else will make that will split YOU into you and you; neither of you have ever encountered this and have no idea what to do. Does experience trump fate? Does it all repeat itself?
Ultimately, any time travel show, movie, book will always show you the consequences. You have to accept the things that you can’t change and have the wisdom to know the difference. Or is that AA? Whatever. The thing is, you can change the things by seeing them as they’re coming, as they’re happening. I see the lines connecting and crossing and maybe it’s becomes clearer the closer I get to it but it seems like the relationship portion of my life is starting to come back together. That clicks back together, then the school situation clicks back together and the work situation clicks back together and then I’m shitfaced in London apologizing to Waffle for my condition while marveling at how lovely she is under the moon in a different city.
Maybe time is a flat circle.
Maybe I’m just running the same path to the start.