Monday, June 02, 2014

Time Travel and Relationships

I think about time travel the same way I think about relationships. They sound great in theory but we can't really agree on a way to go about it and there is so much potential for disaster. And I've been thinking about time travel a lot lately. My book club read Stephen King's 11/22/63 most recently, and we met last week to discuss it. (Not spoiling anything, don't worry! It's about time travel but that's on the inside cover so I'm not telling you anything Stephen King didn't want you to know in advance.)

One aspect of time travel that comes up a lot in the book (and most other books/movies/TV shows that explore time travel) is the ramifications of screwing with the order of things. I'm a big believer in not screwing with history. (This is, of course, operating on the imagined reality where we could change history through time travel.) No matter what you change, it sets off a domino effect of other changes. Sure, maybe some of that would be good--we've all heard the why not just kill Hitler before he comes into power? Or admit the guy to art school or something? But you have no way of knowing how things would shape after that.

Why are we talking about time travel, nerd? Great question. I've been thinking about these changes in history as related to regrets.(And more specifically, relationship regrets.) As in, "I wish I hadn't done that" kind of regrets. As far as I'm concerned, there's no point in all that. First of all, because time travel doesn't exist.* We can't wish stuff away because a DeLorean driven by a young Michael J. Fox has yet to park outside my house.**

But second of all, I wouldn't go undo stuff even if given the opportunity. I've thought about this a lot because one of my college admission essays posed the question. It stuck with me. Yeah, there's stuff in my past that I hated. Things that hurt and made life a lot harder. But I still wouldn't change it, because it's all part of the journey and part of who you are. I don't think everything is fate, but I will say I think we find ourselves in certain places at certain times because it's important. And if you change your path, you can't know that you'd still find yourself in those places at those times. And to be honest? Despite all the pieces that aren't perfect, I have a pretty awesome life. I'm not sure I would want to be in a different place. Because that place might suck.

That was my long-winded way of saying I don't do regrets, particularly in relationships. Sure, I learned that The Astronaut was a dick, but there was value in that relationship. I learned a lot from it, which is how I try to look back at mistakes. You can't beat yourself up over them, but you can make them useful experiences. For example, I learned that I still suck at relationships and that I'm really much better off sticking with short term. See, useful!

(None of this is not to say that you're wrong for wanting to wish away parts of your past. I don't know what you're carrying and I'm sure there are things in life that are so heavy it would be easier to go on if you could drop them off in the past and leave them there. I can only use my experiences as an example, and of course that's limited. If there's stuff so hurtful in your past that changing your path wouldn't matter, I hope Marty McFly shows up. You can have my turn.)

When it comes to time travel...I'm sticking with the answer 17 year old me provided. Whether we're talking the Kennedy assassination (Also not a spoiler, unless you were unaware of the historical significance of the date 11/22/63, in which case...well, spoiler alert but that was the date President Kennedy was assassinated.) or a terrible ex-boyfriend, I would still choose to not change the past. I'm all about learning from it. 

You can take the girl out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the girl. 

*At least, not commonly. If it's happening, no one is letting me in on the secret. Rude.
**Also rude.

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