12 December, 2003

Spend a day in the past

I figure there are three reasons to go back. One is enjoyment, as in meeting a hero or movie star. Another would be to change history, as in killing Hitler before Krystalnacht (or just rallying the people against it), or telling Patton he was right not to trust the Communists, so beat them to Berlin, et al, ad infinitum. The last would be education, because the victors write the history books, and how can we know what really happened if we weren’t there? I group things like going back to meet Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, or even Heinlein or Rand under education.
Entertainment seems kind of a waste of opportunity. There is enough entertainment here. Now if I could take a vacation in the continuum, then, yeah, I would love to meet Mozart, or Einstein, or Da Vinci. But if it is just one day, I think I would pick another reason.
Changing history seems like a good reason to go back. Take a day and change history by convincing someone not to take a certain action. Or just take a day and assassinate someone before they can do something. I could stop Oswald and see if JFK dies anyway. That would be educational. But what else changes? The world may have gone the same way it did, regardless of who I changed or killed or saved. And I might make it worse. I would want to do some research on quantum theory and talk to my gods before I ever took any drastic measures. I wouldn’t want to screw up Deity(ie)’s cosmic plan just because I didn’t understand it. That would be bad karma, I am betting.
I think I would go back for education. That one seemed like it would be a piece of cake until I actually though about it. How to narrow it down to just one person. I would like to pick 24 people and spend an hour with each of them, to maximnize the time; but that wasn’t the theme, so no cheating…
The two historical figures that have had the most impact in my life have been Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand, both philosopher/novelists. I would go ask them to fill in the gaps in their world views that they could not put in their books. I would tell them how the world is today, and ask them if they had any insights, or suggestions to improve it. Rand probably would not, given the theme of Atlas Shrugged. But Heinlein had the added benefit of being a near prophetic science fiction author of the latter part of the 20th century, and so he may have seen farther than Rand, who grew up in Communist Russia.
So I would pick Heinlein.
Heinlein also had such a spiritual side to his writings. The first Heinlein I read was Stranger in a Strange Land, in ninth grade. It was a good read for an agnostic that was leaning towards atheist. It put it in my head that my concept of Deity was not restricted by the dogma of the major religions (and all I really knew about then was Christian, Hindu, and Muslim. I had not yet been exposed to Paganism).
This stuck in the back of my head, and so I was open to Paganism when I was exposed. [What is funny is that the argument that Harry Potter is leading kids to witchcraft is accurate, it just isn’t bad like they make it sound. It won’t lead everyone to it, but it tears down the stereotype of the wicked witch of the west crap.] That is what Heinlein did for me. Heinlein didn’t make me a witch, or a pagan. He made me THINK. ANything that makes someone use the ol noggin can’t be bad, unless you are trying to hide something from them.
Heinlein’s heroines are the best part about his work. Some critics say that Heinlein was sexist; I say those critics are just scared of the strong feminine archetype, because Heinlein did not make his Ladies sexless. On the contrary, they were as lustfull as a Highland lass at Beltain. It seems society (a lot of men) can’t handle a strong woman; cause how will they get her to sleep with them if she is not helpless.
I wasn’t shocked when the Kinsey’s reported that some women actually LIKED sex (big gasp from the collective). I was shocked that so many people were shocked about it. But Heinleinian females were not impressed with the crap that impresses the ‘helpless’ female. And I wanted a Heinlein woman. I wanted a Heinlein WORLD, but a woman was within my reach.
Heinlein helped me shape my thoughts in almost every way imaginable, from my definition of patriotism to my concepts of economics, from my opinions about sexuality to my definition of honor, my relationship with Deity, and my relationship with my Family and Friends. If I could go back and spend time with a Fictional Character, it would be Woodrow Wilson Smith, aka Lazarus Long, the great ancestor of Michael Valentine Smith, the protagonist of Stranger in a Strange Land.
I thought about the concept of going back in time to spend a day with my younger self, what that could lead to.
Would I want to do all the talking, or all the listening? Would I let the me then know that I was the me now, or keep it a secret?
I know that I wouldn’t want to tell myself not to make some of the mistakes I would make. Everything that we do in the past brings us to where we are in the present. I have made my share of mistakes. But unless I could be sure that I could have reached where I am now without the pain, I wouldn’t change any mistake, or skipped any hardship.
Life isn’t about sailing on calm waters, it is about learning to steer through the rough ones and stay on your charted course. Of course, sometimes I have been happy just to stay afloat, and there is nothing wrong with that as a lifes mission; but I always wanted more than to merely survive. Any living thing wants to survive. I have always searched for what makes us different from the animals. (even though I revel in the things we have in common with the animals, just as much).
It is the abstract things that set us apart. A dog can be loyal, and a cat can show love (or at least tolerance, lol), but values are something which set us apart; a spiritual nature does, as well. Come to think of it, the choice NOT to have a spiritual nature sets us apart, maybe more. I think animals have a spiritual nature, but they can not choose NOT to, it is not a choice.
I would tell myself to take a few more chances. I would also try to help with lessons that go with the opposition I would face and the mistakes I would make, but not too much. Something crytpic, that I wouldn’t understand until years in the future, when I was experiencing the lesson.
But I would only do any of this if I could be assured that I would still have my wife and my kids when I came back to today.
I have a wife that loves me, laughs with me, is willing to cry with me, and can be strong when I cannot. She shares my beliefs, and my passions. I have children that delight my mind as well as my eye. I have an extended family that, though geographically seperated from me and happily living their own lives, would take me in with open arms at the drop of a hat if I ever needed it, and they know the offer stands just as well at my Hearth. I have an ancestry that is proud and distinguished, and I like to think that my Tree will continue growing ever wiser and stronger.
So, if I did go back, it would mostly be to say thank you. But I can do that from here.

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