About 10 years ago, there was a party to which I wasn’t invited. Neither were you, but don’t be upset. Believe it or not, not a single person was invited to this get-together, which was thrown by the crazy physicist Stephen Hawking. You see - the party was exclusively for time travelers, and Hawking actually didn’t send out any invitations until after the event. He decided that if even a single guest would show up, it would prove that time travel has become a possibility one day in the future. He sat there waiting for hours, but nobody showed up.
Fast forward to the present day. Early on Sunday morning, at about 5:30 AM, I found myself standing by a Wawa gas station, drinking coffee and wondering why anyone would be crazy enough to be awake this early on a weekend. Suddenly, out of the foggy darkness a huge truck appeared and stopped in the middle of the parking lot, only a few feet away from me; it looked dusty and enveloped in smoke. A fat, stocky, disheveled creature fell out of the driver’s seat, looking around totally disoriented. I threw the coffee in the trash and prepared to make contact with my first-ever time traveler!
They say that miracles happen to those who believe, and I am certainly a believer. I immensely enjoy reading, watching and listening (in person, when I can) to the scientists and their theories about time travel. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, for instance, will talk about time travel any chance he gets, be it at a science conference or at the Starbucks on 40th & Broadway. According to him, time travel is very possible, however, with one unfortunate caveat – you can only travel to the future. As Stephen Hawking found out, rolling around his mansion all alone that fateful night 10 years ago, time travel is a one-way ticket forward. You can never go back to the past and meet your younger self or try to change history for the better.
Sadly, we can only dream about how cool it would have been to travel back and witness the Roaring Twenties in Paris and London, meet the Wright brothers and Da Vinci, or do a vodka shot with Hemingway. Possibly even squeeze the life out of young Hitler, while we are at it? Although, if you think about it, it is somewhat pointless to try to change the past, despite our emotional urges. If Hitler were to be killed Terminator-style, someone else would rise up and lead the Germans, simply because the country was ready for that. More than likely, the circumstances made Hitler, and it was not Hitler that made the circumstances. It is equally pointless to visit yourself a couple of decades back and tell yourself to avoid all those mistakes – you would have made a number of different mistakes that would bring you right back to here and now.
Back to the present: the ugly-looking creature I met in the Wawa parking lot turned out to be a regular idiot-driver, lost without a GPS. I gave him directions to a wrong destination and although I was somewhat disappointed, I am still very much a believer in miracles!