Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dinner with a Time Traveller

What if you could travel back in time, but only long enough to have dinner with a friend? This friend knows you're a time traveller...  

(Okay, I know I'm leaving out a lot of details that would make this scenario make sense. But this is "what if?" Thursday, so this is only here to give you something to ponder. Then again, if you can add the details to make this scenario make sense, you've got a better story here than I do.)

...and this friend can ask you anything. Would you answer your friend's questions? Would you volunteer information? Would you consider any questions about the future off limits?  


  1. I remember an XKCD comic where one character says they invented a time machine and went back and did something, and the other character says "So you went back in time?"

    "Yeah," says the time traveler.

    "You do know my mom died of cancer, right..." says the friend.

    "Yeah, why?" asks the time-traveler.

    "No reason," says the friend.

    I'm probably misremembering the actual, more poignant way it went. But that's instantly what I thought about in your question: would I give my friend bad news? Tell him or her what happens? Or avoid bad news?

    What if this friend didn't talk to a parent for years, and then that parent died suddenly? Would I want to let the friend know? What if I know how this friend dies?

    I would try to answer the questions, I think. I worry a lot about the future, and I don't think it's unchangeable. If someone came from the future and said "Hey, Briane, you die of a heart attack brought on by years of pizza for breakfast," I'd try to eat healthier and hope for the best. But it'd be nice if someone could come and tell me "What you're doing is the right thing and here's how it all worked out."

    I think a harder question is whether I'd still do that if the future was unchangeable. In that case, I'd rather NOT know that what I'm doing is going to kill me, for example -- because at least I'd enjoy my life and not know how it turns out. I mean, if you knew for sure that you were going to die in 10 years, and how, and nothing you could do would change it, what would you do differently?

    Maybe I would rather know. Now that I think about it.

    Because then even if I can't change the future, I could make the most of what I have left.

    You know, people always say "Live your life as though you will die tomorrow," but you can't do that. If I knew I would die tomorrow I wouldn't be at work today and I wouldn't be reading people's blogs: I'd get my wife and kids and we'd all drive someplace beautiful and eat cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes, and tell jokes, and I'd listen to all the songs I loved as we drove.

    Honestly, I just teared up a bit thinking about that. That's how I want my last day on Earth to be spent.

    But you can't live life like that, all the time. So what if I knew I was going to die in 10 years? I'd definitely make an effort to get as much out of my life as I could now.

    Boy, you've really got me thinking. Plus I want to go give my family a hug.

    You know what I'd like? One last sad thought: I had two friends that died when I was in high school. One committed suicide, the other died of a drug overdose. I'd like to go back to them, and help them avoid that stuff. I don't know if we'd have stayed friends, but I think it's sad that they died so young and didn't need to.

    1. Thinking. That's the point of the question. Where that thinking leads is completely up to you.

  2. If I could go back in time, I'd have no trouble talking about the future, but only because I believe that history could never be changed. If there was really something I could do to change things...I might give it a shot.

  3. I'd be of the questions about the future persuasion.


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