Time And How We View It

Had a random thought this morning, and as I haven’t updated this page in a while (Daddy stuff and Hubby stuff don’t always play well with creative stuff hehe), I figured this’d be a good share.

Of all sci-fi and fantasy tropes, I think my favorite has GOT to be time travel. Not only does it touch on the obvious (changing the past, paradoxes, etc) but it also naturally gives rise to alternate realities. I’d go so far as to say that the principles implied by linear time and how it functions goes a long way to inform my worldview and even my walk with Christ.

Consider how much is affected by how we view time. We tend to see each successive minute as dependent upon the previous, and we line those minutes up straight and neat, when in fact, time isn’t so simple. While the moments themselves are orderly, the affect of time is not.

Consider the recent tragedy during the OSU homecoming. I have family there, so this one strikes pretty close to home. They were planning on being at the parade — on the very corner where that woman plowed uncontrollably through the crowd — but they overslept their alarm. What if they woke up on time? I would likely have lost my wife’s cousin, his wife, and their two kids.

That’s what COULD’VE happen. What DIDN’T happen? Well, the driver DIDN’T drink responsibly. The onlookers DIDN’T choose another corner to stand on. People DIDN’T get otherwise diverted.

Imagine that tragedy under the lens of a flexible timeline. What if you could CHANGE things? With all possible futures being EQUALLY possible — depending on the decisions one makes — consider the varied alternate timelines. A timeline where my loved ones died. A timeline where other people didn’t. A timeline where the parade passed completely without incident. ALL of them are equally valid, equally possible — the only difference being, in THIS timeline, things played out the way we know them to have played out.

Take that thought back further. What if America had lost the Revolutionary War? What if the Vikings had settled North America more invasively, more completely, than they did? What if Marco Polo had never made his treks to the East? Now you don’t have just alternate timelines — you have alternate REALITIES, entire histories where the world turned in completely unexpected ways… but in THOSE realities, they would seem perfectly acceptable and OUR timeline would seem alien.

This is the very STUFF of speculative fiction — the “what if”.

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Categories: Blogroll, Life In General, Religious, Writing | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Time And How We View It

  1. Timeline alterations like the ones you mentioned fascinate me. There are points in my life where I can pinpoint the way a single event or decision shaped everything that now is my reality. Likewise, I’ve a number of friends who can pinpoint things in their lives that caused a sharp turn one direction or another. It’s not always a matter of everything working together to shape something. It’s possible for one moment to change the course of a life. (You could, of course, argue that such a moment will not occur unless multiple other circumstances build up to it, but when it all comes down, that single moment is where the whole thing hinged and the rest will have meant little without it.)

    When it comes to frightening moments like the one your family experienced, when something typically considered negative (oversleeping the alarm) resulted in something tremendously positive, the mind boggles. It’s that moment when you realize everything you planned could have gone exactly the way you hoped, you could have been a shining example of time well-managed and balanced self-discipline, only to have it end in disaster. Then you have to wonder, what if these things hadn’t happened exactly as they did?

    • My thoughts exactly.

      My biological father left my (unwed seventeen year old) mother when I was only a few weeks old. I didn’t hear from him again until I was 22. For YEARS I was bitter about his decision, but as I got older, and saw the world through more mature eyes, I realized that…

      1) My Mom likely would never have gone into the Navy to support me

      2) My Mom likely would never have met the man who would become my Dad, and CERTAINLY wouldn’t have formed a relationship with him

      3) They would never have gotten married

      4) They would never have had my sister

      5) They would never have gotten divorced

      6) I would never have gone to school in southeast Alabama — about as far from my native Chicago as you can get

      7) I would’ve never met my first wife

      8) I would never have wound up divorced and living in Arkansas

      9) I would never have met my wife Mary

      10) I would never have fathered three amazing kids that I love more than life itself

      …and all that because one young man did what MANY men his age do when faced with the consequences of their actions. One tiny decision, and the life that I recognize as MY life would never have happened.

      • I wanted desperately, all through high school, to be a missionary in Indonesia. A little bit AFTER I started “dating” the man who is now my husband, another friend got in touch with a single missionary guy serving in Indonesia and “introduced” us online. I missed ONE email inviting me to meet him. I am almost certain that one missed email is why I’m a housewife in Alaska instead of a nurse in Indonesia. (Or dead in Indonesia, given the political climate and number of natural disasters they’ve has since.)

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