Prompt – Jan 21

If you could, what year would you time travel to and why?

I have questions. Would I get to time travel with no consequences? Like, is it an accepted tourism practice, and people in other times expect travelers? Is it instant and easy? Or what? Do I have to stay for the full year? Do I remember what I know now, or am I just living in that year? Is this intended to be educational, or purposeful (i.e., change something), or what?

I think this is likely supposed to spark things like “I would go to XXXX so I could see Y event live, how cool!” but really, all I can think is, if I go to some event, I’d just be thinking about the historical context (that you wouldn’t know if you were there live, just living it). And there’s really no prior period where things are peaceful, like, truly peaceful. So going back to a time when things aren’t a pandemic would just be a trade. Plus, you couldn’t enjoy the peace, because you know what’s coming. There’s no escape, not really. The only escape from the present day is by creating a better future; it’s not in the past. Plus, I have movies and books for escapism, thank you very much.

Changing something seems ill-advised. Count me out.

Follow-up question: does time in time travel count against your overall lifespan? For example, do you age at the same rate during time spent in other times? I would guess yes. Second follow-up question: assuming you can only time travel backwards from Point A, and then only back to Point A (not beyond), do you age up going forwards to Point A again? And if that, why wouldn’t you de-age going back in time? Is time just perception or a force? If time is just perception of movement/decay, I think you would just continue to decay at a normal rate. If time is a force, then I think time travel could be personally disastrous, depending on the distance in time traveled.

Another follow-up question: if you could time travel living people, what’s to stop you from time traveling other statuses of people? Could you identify a point where a person will be, but is not yet (because they haven’t yet been born), and time travel that point to bring forward a person into life, or even old age? Or time travel a dead person back to when they were alive?

Obviously this brings us to Groundhog’s Day. If you make the assumption that you can rewind a day (a single day) and relive it, with zero consequences to future events and your own aging, then you are probably solipsistic, how would that even work – the world doesn’t revolve around you. In the movie, this is a time loop, and he can’t control it (except by growing into the best version of himself, which takes what seems like years, so that’s ridiculous because why would time care). How would a time loop not affect every thing in the universe? Is time a personalized event? Obviously, a year is a different fraction of everyone’s life at every stage (a year is 1/5th of my 5-year-old’s life, but only 1/40th of my life), but we still experience the same number of days.

We have no way of knowing, too, if we experience time loops like this all the time and simply can’t measure them. We could, after all, be in the midst of an incomprehensibly massive time loop, as the universe vibrates between big bangs, expanding and shrinking in an endless cycle of creation and destruction. I see no evidence to the contrary.

Though I guess the fantasy answer is that if time is incredibly malleable and forgiving, and we can play with it, as if it were a movie, to rewind and relive, I’d spend my time reliving all the good things, over and over again. An easy morning. A delicious meal. An exciting conversation. A moment of anticipation. A lingering sunbeam. An afternoon reading. A beloved experience. Time with my family, time with my friends. I’d take that. I’d take that in a second.

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