Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Day I Invented Time Travel

People always ask me about time travel, and about how, if I go back in time, reality doesn't collapse in on itself. You know, if you do something in the past, that changes the future, surely you should unmake yourself or something.

Well, it turns out that all of reality is actually entirely subjective, all the people who think they're the centre of the universe are right, every living being on the planet is its own universe and the reality which we perceive is the only one that - technically - exists.

Therefore, if you travel back in time you are only changing your perception of reality, and you can't go back and change something in the past in order to directly effect the future and unmake yourself, because the past is only a memory, and the past or future you may travel to is merely an alternate present.

In fact, the thing about time travel is that you aren't travelling into the past or the future, you are always in the present, it is just your perception of the present that has changed.

So, I invented time travel on a Wednesday, at about three in the afternoon, but by the time I realised what I had done it was five years earlier, same day of the week though, but now it was four in the morning. I was sat in the same place, except now I was staring at myself instead of the boggle-eyed cat clock hanging just behind my head.

I was scared, naive at this point, that seeing myself would cause some sort of paradox, but that's impossible, because that me is composed of different matter, pieces of the past if you will. But, it was at this point that I realised the true nature of time travel, because, if going back would alter the future then I would have always had this memory of having met myself in the past, but I didn't, this was unexpected. Now, if I were to travel to tomorrow, the me I would meet then would of course remember meeting me, but only because yesterday has always happened, and if I travelled further forwards to meet the me sat at that kitchen table on the day I invented time travel then he probably wouldn't be there doing what I did when I did it, he's a product of a now alternate future, something that never existed in any form prior to my journey into the past, yet my past, the past where I invented time travel has and always will exist.

Now, I'm not saying there are a series of parallel yet alternate universes and realities happening simultaneously, and even if there are I do doubt that we could travel between them, I think that's where your paradoxes and science fiction starts to occur. But, this singular perceived reality, the reality of my head, can be transformed as much as I care, heck, I could go all the way back and kill every organism on the planet at the dawn of creation and yet I would still exist, I'd just be real lonely for the rest of my natural life.

You see, once you do something in the past the only way to undo it is to then go back before it happened and change it that way, kind of like going back and stopping the guy from walking under the roof slate about to fall on his head, then, when you go forwards again you can see the reality that follows.

Once this clicked in my own brain I tried to think about what I would most want and how best to achieve that in a way that would benefit me, the time traveller.

You see, the problem is now that I have shifted my present off of its linear course I don't particularly exist, the only space where I think I can continue to exist is in the time after I first vanished. I haven't been back there yet, but, like I said earlier I may have altered things in my perception of reality to mean that I don't time travel on that day. Therefore I will be ambling about, doing my thing, and I don't want to have share a continued linear existence with a duplicate of myself.

As I age I keep track of where, in the present I was born and grew into, I would be. It's not Wednesday anymore, it's four months later, a Friday evening, though I currently exist one hundred years ago in a French cafe.

One day I plan to go back and pick up my life where I left off, but I need to do it silently. If anything I hope that some sort of quiet accident happens to me in the future and I get there to find my dead body, which I can secretly get rid of and just carry on as if nothing changed. But I don't know if I can leave this to chance anymore, and the more I wait the more I worry I'll go back and find out I died in some terrible, public way that means I can no longer be myself in the time I am accustomed to.

Or what if I get married, have kids, a career, but they are all different to that which I had planned for myself, and I have to sit there, once I resume my life, like a prisoner, married to a woman I don't love, with children that aren't mine and a job I despise.

But then I realise that I am not a time traveller, and that this is my life, and I look away from the computer screen and drink my coffee, time travels forwards at a rate we are all accustomed to, I am not the centre of the universe, and I can't go back and change a thing.

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