Picture the scene – you’re sitting in the DeLorean, the time circuits are on, the flux capacitor is running, Mr Fusion has been filled with egg shells and banana skins (I figured I’d go with the Back to the Future 2 DeLorean because where the fuck are we supposed to get plutonium from, eh?), you have plenty of space to reach 88mph. You look at the dashboard in front of you, the keypad just waiting for you to input a date. Any date you want. The possibilities are endless, man. But before you key in the date to which you want to travel there are some things that you should probably consider, some decisions that you need to make before you travel down the tunnels of time. Where you’re going to go is probably the first thing you should decide. Now, I know that in Back to the Future this isn’t an option because you will arrive at your chosen point in time at the exact same place you just left. Are we going to limit ourselves in this way though? Are we fuck. This is our imaginary time travelling fantasy and we can do what we like. So, yeah, where are you going to go?
I guess the most obvious choice would be to travel back to a particular point in your own life; your childhood, your teenage years, to a special event that you’d like to experience from an outsiders perspective. This definitely wouldn’t be my choice, in fact, it probably wouldn’t even cross my mind if I was sitting in the DeLorean. I’ve already lived through my life, and although there are things I might change if I could and there are nights I’d love to revisit, with the plethora of other time periods I can travel to, going back to one that you have already lived through seems a bit retarded. I do think this is what most people would choose though, if they could. Now, I might be wrong here (doubtful, but even things that have a million to one chance of happening, do happen), but I reckon that the majority of those that would chose to travel to a time period outside of their own lives, travelling back in time would be the preferred choice. We already have knowledge of the past, of the history of the world. Wherever we choose to go, we can, through research, arm ourselves with a basic image of how things will be when we rock up there in our DeLorean, two blazing strips of fire marking our dramatic entrance (just setting the scene, don’t mind me). People are always going to be more comfortable around things they’re familiar with. I guess that’s why a lot of people would choose to return to a point in their own lives, a place in time so familiar that there would be no fear of the unknown, no need to feel anxious about what’s going to happen, because you already know. This mentality is what keeps people in unhappy situations, stuck living the same scenario over and over, hoping things could be different, but also finding comfort in knowing exactly what the outcome will be because they have already lived through it.
If we are feeling brave though (which we are, aren’t we?), we will choose a period from history that we find the most interesting, that we would like to know more about by experiencing it first hand. Now, even though we already have some knowledge of the various time periods throughout history, we’re bound to still be slightly wary of what things we might encounter as we circumnavigate the continuum of time (check me out!). Yeah, so we might think we know what the Romans were like because we watched Spartacus, but are we really prepared for it if we end up having to fight a lion in hand to hand combat in front of the home crowd at a packed out Colosseum? (What? It could happen). We might think we’re up to speed on Victorian Britain because we studied the Industrial Revolution in Year 11 History, but would you keep hold of your dinner if you came face to face with Jack the Ripper holding a rusty scalpel? Because I fucking wouldn’t. So many things to consider and we’re still only sitting in the fucking DeLorean at this point. What about the future? That’d be an even scarier prospect, if you ask me. We wouldn’t have a scooby what things were awaiting us there – nuclear wars, cyborgs, Donald Trump, after having himself cryogenically frozen, still controlling the free world from the Oval Office while a cat purred softly on his lap. We just don’t know. Let’s leave the future exactly where it is, shall we? Agreed.
If this were my time travelling fantasy (which I suppose it is really), I would travel to San Francisco, circa. 1962. A magical time and place where everyone wore flowers in their hair, dropped acid everyday and wore amazing clothes. Love was all around (at least according to The Troggs) and people really felt like they belonged, no matter who they were or where they came from. I’m pretty sure I’m romanticising the fuck out of an entire decade of history here, but I can’t help it. Obviously, things weren’t all peace and love. The 60s had its downside – segregation, the Vietnam war, The Rolling Stones, but just to be a part of a such a pivotal time in world history would have been belting. I would live through the 60s in San Francisco and then finish my time there with a cross country trek in a clapped out camper van covered in flowers and peace signs to arrive at a remote farm in Bethel, New York on August 15th, 1969. The Woodstock Music Festival. That’d be me done for life. I could drop dead where I stood as Jimi Hendrix played the final note of the weekend on his custom made Gibson Flying V guitar and it wouldn’t matter one bit. I would die happy. Oooooft, got a bit carried away there. Sorry.
Now that we have decided where we’re going (well, I have. I’d forgotten you were even here, tbh) we need to consider something else – interaction. Are you going to interact with people when you arrive at your chosen time period? We’ve all seen The Butterfly Effect or read Stephen King’s 11/22/63, so we know that any course of action we take can change the future in ways we can’t even imagine. Let that sink in for a minute, we don’t even need to be talking about time travel anymore. Anything you do now, and I mean anything, even something as innocuous as crossing the street in a certain place or leaving the house at a certain time, has a direct effect on the course of your life (I’ve written a poem about this, I’ll include it at the end). The little choices that we’re not even aware that we’re making are actually responsible for the life we’re living. To quote Marty McFly – woah. This is heavy, Doc. I’m pretty knackered after writing all that. Dunno if I can even be arsed time travelling now. Shall we just take a nap instead? Cushty.
The poem, as promised:
Think about all of the things that have led to you reading this, in this exact place, in this exact moment. Think about the things you have been through, the decisions you have made, the actions you have taken and the people you have met along the way. They all seem significant in one way or another, like each one has played a part. Every big decision you have ever made has brought you to this very moment in time. But what of the countless choices that we absentmindedly make every day? Isn’t it almost impossible to imagine that something as small and as seemingly innocent as a traffic jam or a long queue in a shop could have completely altered the course of your life, changing everything that you are now aware of. If you had taken a different route or chosen a different shop, where would you be now? What effect would those small, unremarkable decisions have had on your destiny? You would still be you, but you would be a completely different you to the one reading this now. So, while we concentrate on the big decisions, believing these to be pivotal to our lives, it can be the supposedly inconsequential decisions we make every single day that direct our path through life.