It has been one of the mankind’s primary desires to figure out how to travel back in time. The causes vary, though. “I want to see how it began.” “I want to know why.” “I want to undo that event/mistake.” The reasons vary but the underlying motive remains the same. To fulfil our selfish needs.
Welcome to the newest post of Narrating The Dream and it’s a perfect time to consider an entry on time travel. With the time to move on to the next year, isn’t it a best time to consider why we should leave the past behind?
Every act of ours changes us. From the simple act of breathing to the complex decisions we may have to make regarding our future, the choices alter us fundamentally in ways we can never really realize.
I mean, really think about it. Would you still be you if somehow the childhood accidents you had while learning to bike were erased and you simply, in the first turn, learned it on the first time. You would forget the trouble that you need to go through to learn the simpler things and would just be frustrated instead of remembering all that effort and persevering. But that’s only a good side. Let’s take a look at the bad side. What if the events weren’t nice?
Would Bruce Wayne would still be Batman if he hadn’t had his parents killed? We know he has two sides of personality. On the one side, it is his personality as the ‘Dark Knight’ who fights crime but on the other side of that same personality is the rich playboy. But won’t the rich playboy be his only side then if he erased that part of his history? Sure, there is a possibility that there may not be certain villains who were especially lured to his presence in Gotham but what about the rest? Who will deal with them?
But that’s a famous fictional case. Let’s take an everyday case. That homeless guy down the street. Think whatever you may about him, but he realizes the true worth of a roof over the head and clean food to eat. But just change one incident – make him win a lottery, maybe? – and see that everything changes. Now he’s a rich man. An unskilled rich man, but still a rich man. But he won’t appreciate it. Because he hasn’t earned it, he won’t value it. Morality doesn’t even enter the equation. What he will be is just another idiot who simply got lucky. He will be vain, he will be proud, he will be philanthropic… what he would be depends on how his past has been. But what he most definitely be will be a man who depends on life to favour him always when things get difficult.
But what about a victim? There would be those who are too weak to handle its effects. To them, it would indeed seem a mercy. But in reality, it is a perfect opportunity. (No offense intended. I sincerely agree that it is a cruel thing to happen and this is, in no way, a mockery of what they undergo. I cannot even relate.) A perfect opportunity to find out who your real well-wishers are. A perfect opportunity to find that strength within – since you find it and develop it to go through the early days. A perfect opportunity to open your eyes to the lies you have told yourself so far. The strong ones crumble too, as do we sometimes in our day-to-day lives (though not as significantly), and they too depend on this inner strength to go through the day.
And this is not even going into the concept of ‘butterfly effect’. Every minute act that we change in the past will have huge impacts in the future. If you choose not to go down a road where an accident would later cause your loved ones harm, would the accident there not happen? When circumstances pile up, there will always be a collapse in normality. If it wasn’t you – as intended – then yes, you saved someone in your family. But what about the person who now took your place? It is indeed a small world and by your small decision to save someone you know and care about, you effectively changed the world. It could be that the person who died left people behind who depended on him for daily survival. It could be that those people might have been destined to great things in a world where they didn’t lose someone in that accident. There may have been ways in which they would have influenced your life in a critical manner. And what if they too sought the time travel as a way to avoid dealing with the reality? Won’t the circle return to you?
And that was a tame example. What if the person who died was, in fact, a linchpin? (A linchpin is the critical point, on which a huge structure/system is dependent.) It would mean the collapse of the society as we know it. By your choice to save the ones you know instead of letting them go, aren’t you just risking the world? So when your choices affect the future of people, including yourself, in immeasurable ways, do you really want to be responsible for a negative event, the scope of which ranges from small illness to global disasters?
Because the nature demands balance. For every difference you make in the past, you would be effectively creating an alternative timeline where something else happened. You can’t avoid that. None of us can. For every change must be balanced. And the two cannot help but be of opposite nature.
Yin-Yang. Good-evil. You know.
But seriously, all these words and I don’t even point out what I mean as the upsetting of balance? It’s simple. You breathing the air. You eating food. You stepping on ground. By simply being in the past, you are altering it. Because you weren’t there actually in the first place, you destroyed a part of the system in the past by being there. And let us not even get into how it would awkward if you talked to someone in the past, only to run into that person who now realizes that there is no way humanely possible for you to have met. Or what if that person met you before you time-travelled? The possibilities of paradoxes are mind-boggling. Because as I just ranted above, balance must be maintained.
In media, there is a huge number of materials that emphasize this point, whether intentionally or not. To entertain the idea of going back to the past and correcting our mistakes sounds fun but when every move to the past has a negative impact, which compounds on multiple travels, there is no doubt that sooner or later, you will break it all.
So, still interested in that time travel?