Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it – or something like that.
The thing is, looking back at history I don’t really fancy visiting it much. I learned from it, and this is what I learned. I would like to have a look from a more remote position, but on the whole the poor record on human rights, overzealous patriarchy/religion and extremely limited health care options makes me suspect that unless I turned up as someone who was young, rich, male and white, things would not go well. You could say the same today, but then even more so. They would speak a different language – have you read Shakespeare? They would eat terrible food – Mrs Beeton! And their treatment of mouthy, liberal women would be unappealing.
The future then? Would I be able to obtain a fully functional personal jet pack? Or visit alien planets? Or live forever?
Again, as I watch the news (at least, the short bits without the Olympics in it) I am not convinced that I would be very pleased with what I might find. Either the world will have gone to hell in a handcart, although I think it unlikely as this has been routinely predicted for millennia by disgruntled senior citizens, or it will have evolved into something completely new and unfathomable and possibly more interesting, and I would be an amusing anachronism. Not very satisfying for my self-esteem, and let’s not forget this is all about me. I have embraced the use of remote controls, and computers and mobile phones and I’m getting bored with all that stuff. It just doesn’t interest me any more.
The thing is, you see, the thing is, I am comfortable in my own time, like my own skin. I speak the language and understand the local culture. It’s enough of a challenge following what my children try to tell me, or what on earth is bothering the aged parent (the young and the old are time machines themselves, showing us snatches of the past and glimpses of the futre), without multiplying that by 100 times, 1000 times, through an ill-advised trip to a foreign century. If I want to struggle to be understood or absorb a new culture I can go to wherever young people hang out, or to another part of this planet, here and now, without breaking the space-time continuum just to satisfy my curiosity / ego.
There’s seemingly not much adventure in this post. But I just feel there is so much to see and do and learn and discover today in this time, in this place, that gallivanting off somewhen else is just plain rude and ungrateful. We live in marvellous times. There’s a new mission on Mars, a possible cure for AIDS on the horizon, and beautiful, wondrous, amazing things to see and do and learn every single minute of every single day.
Go to another time? I haven’t got enough time for this one, thank you.