Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wither To, Time Traveler?

Dusk was falling on Lake Iriquois when a dear friend from forever poised her poignant question, "If you had a time machine, would you go forward -- or would you go back?"

My immediate reaction was swift. Back. Discussion done, game over. Heck, I'd over-pay for a ticket to re-live my junior year in either high school or college. Mt. Abe? Junior year meant the metamorphasis was complete; the seniors were still around and the sophomores had arrived; soccer, basketball, and baseball were in full gear; the golden subaru had an 8-track player; and I had access to a B&W darkroom -- life was grand! St. Mikes? Junior year meant the his 'n hers Sutton Apartments; the Noontime Basketball Association; the powder-blue Horizon; photography with the Canon AE-1 program; and the first donutrun -- life was brilliant ... Reliving either would be a delightful day at an amusement park with pockets full of cash and not a line in sight. And if there were a chance I'd do so knowing then some of what I know now? Oh, my. Ohhhh, yeah.

Wait -- what of a dalliance in Camelot or on the Enterprise? Could either adventure match the magic of either junior year? Meh. I'll stay with my answer -- I know the joy my adventure holds and wouldn't bet on topping it. I'm good. Game over.

Since then, however, her question has lingered in the cobwebs of my mind, as they often do, begging me to go deeper. Is there more there?

Hmmm. Jennie asked "backward or forward"? I'd assumed the question involved popping out, crashing about, changing nothing, and returning. What if it involved going back -- and staying back? What if there was a risk of changing outcomes? What it involved going forward -- and not coming back?

Would I go way back? History has never been a true passion of mine. I've never truly looked at an era and had it call to my soul. It must have been hot being Pharoh ... I'm not sure they made armor in my size ... Powdered wigs were not a good look ... I like indoor plumbing and air conditioning and internet connections ... Nah, I'm not going way back.

So, what of this nuance of not returning in relation to my initial reaction? As much as either junior year appeals, I wouldn't go back to stay, unless I could be assured it would unfold again exactly as it has. That's either a sign of cowardice (likely partially) or a sign of how profoundly I've been blessed. I like the cards I hold and wouldn't risk it working out differently, as I've grown convinced my destiny wasn't to change the world -- but rather, to father two who will.

So, with those sparrows hopping from the nest, would I now fast-forward? Jump to the future to meet my descendents (should they come to be)? I'd rather stay and hope to make an impact on their early days, giving them entertaining memories of their Antisocial Hobbit ... Jump to the distant future to understand the legacy and mess with unimaginable technology? That, in honesty, is tempting -- as I'm a cat of insatiable curiosity ... "Beaming aboard"? Routine space travel? Laser everythings? Photon topedos? Tell me that wouldn't be fun ... Still, what if the global warming folks are right? It might be hot. Plus, what's the future of photography in the distant future of extreme technology? Will my camera have gone the way of the subaru's 8-track? I'd miss it ... Meh. The intrigue of the far future simply doesn't intrigue enough to give up the simple joy of my tomorrow.

And so, after careful consideration, if the time machine is a one-jump pony, I'd stay put.

And still ... my mind wanders deeper into Jennie's question ... Is there more there?

What if there was another setting? What if I could travel through time, bring folks, interact, and return without disrupting the space-time continuum? Hmmmm. Okay, this trumps the cavortingly enticing opportunity to re-enjoy a junior year.

I do carry a regret. My Dad never met Marilyn. Or Kate. Or Emily. If I could, I'd load my three ladies into the time-machine, visit my Dad before he died, appear to him as if in a dream, and let him get to know my family. I'd tell him how much I loved him, how much I appreciated his gentle kindness and delightful sense of humor. I'd tell him how wonderfully Cleo is doing and how beloved GrammaB has become ... Having had that chance for him to know my girls a bit and they he, we'd return to our time and let him go to Heaven. We wouldn't try to save him? Selfishly, I'd love to -- but it was God who called him. So we'd come back, he'd awaken and he'd go -- perhaps with just a bit more comfort in his heart.

So, there it is -- a deeper appreciation for my use of Jennie's speculated time machine. As an amusement ride? Give me either junior year. As a moving truck? No thanks. As a chance to address a regret and return? In an instant.