5 Timeline Mistakes to Avoid If You Get a Shot at Traveling in Time

5 Timeline Mistakes to Avoid If You Get a Shot at Traveling in Time

Time travel is a popular theme these days. At some point, most people find themselves thinking up their own scenarios and imagining what they would do. What if you had the chance to go backward or forward in time and tempt the universe, or universes, with your own blunders? You could create a paradox or sabotage the aspects of your life you love most—the possibilities are endless!

Sidestepping all the inconvenient questions that come up about whether time travel is possible or how it could be done, here are a few suggestions on mistakes to avoid if you ever get a shot at traveling in time.

1st Mistake: Assuming You Can Handle It

In your timeline checklist, you may have considered clothing, finances, and even language, but how familiar are you with the politics of the period? Even if you can pull off speaking and trading, you won’t know the slang and gestures, facial expressions and social customs, and what are you going to do about your accent? Even if you come up with a good cover story—pilgrim, merchant, survivor of a shipwreck—you may still be in danger.

Make sure you know how to use the tools you bring, as well. And try not to contaminate the timeline with future tech.

Michael Crichton tackled some of this in his book, “Timeline”, that was made into a movie. In one scene, one of the men is killed by arrows as he presses his medallion and returns to the present holding a grenade. For some reason, he had already pulled the pin, and as he died, it rolled out of his hand and damaged the return pad for the other time travelers. I can’t help but wonder, what was he thinking?

Suggestion: If you’re going to travel into the past, bring an invisibility cloak, because if you can do the one, you can probably do the other. A tranq gun might be a good idea, too. On a more practical note, do your research and prepare as much as you can.

2nd Mistake: Setting Yourself Up For Life

What? Am I really saying don’t do that? We all saw what happened to the Marty McFly’s hometown when Biff got future sports intel and made himself a fortune. Would you know how to manage money better?

Don’t count on it. Anyone who has played video games on ‘Creative’ and had unlimited supplies or health knows that it gets boring after a while. There are things we accomplish because they are a challenge. Would you like the person you would become if you had unlimited funds? Would your creativity be the same?

Money would guarantee my success as an author because I could advertise until no one could escape my books and the sheer volume of availability and repetition would convince people my work is popular. And I have to admit that sounds appealing—but if that were the plan, how would I, and my writing, change? Ok, most of you aren’t persuaded, but think about it.

Remember King Midas.

Of course there could be some people out there who have actually pulled it off and don’t regret it. Has anyone asked Bill Gates about this?

Suggestion: There are people out there who actually handle money well. Find one and learn from them before you attempt any time travel short cuts.

3rd Mistake: Planning With Only Yourself in Mind

Most people are thinking about themselves when they time travel and a lot of stories revolve around the unforeseen consequences of their actions. Why not consider the impact you’ll make on others upfront? Make a list of goals and possible side effects so you can have an idea of how to mitigate disasters.

In the Terminator movies, the time travelers hit the ground running. The terminator that showed up to kill Sarah Conner pursued her with unrelenting drive but fortunately another traveler came back to rescue her. These guys were honed to complete their objectives.

In “About Time” the main character has the ability to relive events in his own life and change what happens. What I like about this story is how he spends time trying to find the balance between what he wants most and how it affects others.

Suggestion: Practice now treating people as you would if you were time traveling, then when your chance comes, you’ll be ready.

4th Mistake: Letting Yourself Be Wiped Out

Harry Potter was nearly lost in the “Prisoner of Azkaban” but Hermione’s time turner gave him a way to go back in time to protect himself. This involves on one of those time paradoxes we pretend don’t exist when we write time travel stories, since that’s what magic is all about.

There’s no time travel law that says you can’t prevent a tragedy and that includes stepping in to protect yourself. So don’t make the mistake of saying, “I’m not supposed to interfere,” when you see an injustice. One of the most rewarding aspects of time travel is improving what happened! Yes, the butterfly effect can happen. But every circumstance causes ripples in time and you will never know which combination is the best or the worst. You only know what’s happening in front of you at this point in time.

Suggestion: Practice evaluating circumstances as if there were actual ripples in time and try to improve things.

5th Mistake: Believing Time Travel Isn’t Fun

In the novel “Many Dimensions”, Charles Williams presents an interesting problem. One of the characters is sent back in his own timeline by someone else and condemned to an eternal loop because it always leads back to that very moment when he was sent back. There was no progression of alternate loops with any memory of what had happened in previous iterations. Williams painted it as a horrific thing for a soul to be trapped in that way and moved another character to intervene and rescue the man.

The question is, if someone goes back in time while retaining a personal progression along their own timeline, does that mean everyone else is looped except for them? Does this time traveler ascend to a different plane above ordinary humans? Or can you even say time is looping when clearly things are changing every step of the way? Why not say everyone else has amnesia?

Most of us are looking for entertainment when we read books or watch shows about time travel. The funny thing is, some of the most popular ones paint some pretty depressing scenarios.

That’s the worst mindset you could have. If you ever get the chance to travel in time, you need to have the same mindset you would for other types of travel. Do your research, plan well, and be ready for anything.

Traveling is fun.

Suggestion: None of us knows what tomorrow will bring and time travel is no different. Practice enjoying life while preparing for the unknown.

The idea that the future is unfixed is exciting! Why note approach our lives with the expectation that the ripples we cause in the timeline make it better?

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