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Presently Going Back to the Future Past

A friend of mine recently had a head-shaking moment. It was for the typical reason. No, he wasn’t thinking about the current president. No, he wasn’t thinking about how sad it is that the majority of people believe everything they hear on the news. We had been talking about the past, and that’s when the head shaking began. It was followed by the comment I’m sure we’ve all said at some point, “If I could go back knowing what I know now…” Does that sentence ever get finished or does it just get smothered by the scenarios going through our heads?

Sure, it may be a pointless topic, at least until I fix my time machine, but it will continue to be mentioned. In fact, let me take a moment to beat this subject with a dead horse. What would I do if I could be blasted back in time with the knowledge I’ve gained over the last twenty years? I originally thought I’d want to jump back twenty-five years so I wouldn’t miss the eighties, but I would be too young at that point and be held back by my size and age. And being a fan of the show Quantum Leap, I’m going to tell this as if I get to take over my body and thoughts once I arrive. I wouldn’t want to be there in my current body standing next to my mini-self. Plus I’m not going back to stay and ride out the rest of my life, because I cannot stand repetition. Going back and tweaking a few things would be all I would do before snapping back to present day.

Twenty-one years would put me back at age twelve; the time when all of the drama began. That was when my mom started acting, uh… different. I know now that there is nothing I could do to make her better, so I would just keep my distance; be one less person about whom she would worry. I would be more independent and spend much more time with my friends. The whole time though, being careful not to do anything that would change my future drastically. I would do little things, like making sure I knew how important it was going to be to remember what I learned in Spanish class. I didn’t originally take time to retain it because I lived in Delaware. No one spoke Spanish in Delaware, other than in the Spanish classes. It sure would come in handy in Texas, not to mention I would be getting paid a few extra dollars more an hour. I would also try my best to get chicken pox.* That way I wouldn’t get them when I did originally at age eighteen… right before prom.

I would apply myself more in other classes too. Chemistry and History were the two that didn’t “sink in”, so I would concentrate on those. If that didn’t get me better grades, at least it would allow me to bring more to the discussions that my husband and I have. I would have worked faster in design class as well, so I could have finished all of the projects and kept them to show to my daughter during the times she gets discouraged with her drawing.

One fun thing I would love to change is the way I dressed back then. I was quiet and demure. I would totally use that to my advantage and go “Goth”. I would have been the only Goth kid in the entire school. I would rock that style and be the Gothiest Goth that ever Gothed. I would be listening to The Cure on my portable CD player while walking through the halls. I’d educate the rest of the kids on great music and poetry- walk right up to the guy I liked, and quote Shakespeare or Poe.

I would make sure that one guy in particular didn’t think I thought of him as a loser. The guy who had a crush on me the same time I was crushing on him and neither of us knew. I was so naive and didn’t decipher his comments and actions until I was in college. How sad is that? Though I love my life and the people in it now, it hurts me to this very day, to think for a second, that he thought I didn’t like him.

I guess the real question should be if I could go back in time, would it be “okay” to change things, even the little things? Would it be morally or ethically wrong? Would I be stepping on God’s toes? There was a short story written by Ray Bradbury, called The Sound of Thunder, where one of the characters who went back in time changed history by stepping on a butterfly. Well, I could go back and do the opposite, because when I was younger I accidentally killed a butterfly with my net. What? Again… this was Delaware… we could ride an hour to get to a crappy mall or we could chase butterflies. If I hadn’t killed that butterfly, the world we live in now could be a better place. Oh, oh, maybe I did make the world better by killing it! Perhaps it was a tiny flying “outbreak monkey” or a zombified butterfly. I saved the world! Woot woot! Bet you’re glad I didn’t ride an hour to the mall now, aren’t you?

I guess I shouldn’t go back if given the chance. It would be too easy to slip, and say or do something that could easily change history. I could thoughtlessly start singing a Nickelback song and end up rich and Nickleback might never come to existence. Wait, I’m not doing a very good job of convincing myself not to go back. Everything does have a reason though, good or bad. What we go through makes us who we are. So no, I wouldn’t go back. Although if I really want to get technical… what if I’m writing this while inhabited by “future-me” from year 2030?   In that case, in the words of Sam Beckett… “Ooooh boy.”

*(Had to share this interesting fact) Chicken pox are not named after nor have anything to do with poultry. “Chicken”, in this case, stands for weak. It is a weak form of small pox.

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