How to Time Travel

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What is it about time travel stories that so intrigues us?

Is it the dream of going back in time to change how things turn out for the better? Stop the Titanic, or give your young self advice. Or maybe it’s to go back in history to see what really happened. How were the pyramids at Giza really built? Find out who killed JFK.
 
Maybe you’d rather see the future. How do you turn out? Does society reach utopia? Or the feared dystopia? Or for purely selfish reasons, i.e. find out which teams win or next week’s lottery numbers.
 
Perhaps in both cases, past and future, it’s the drama, and sometimes the comedy, of the clash of cultures. Ultimately, I think we enjoy the idea of time travel for the pure escapism of it.
 
On Big Bang Theory, when Sheldon and Leonard write their Roommate Agreement, and Sheldon includes a clause that requires them to return to that moment if either of them ever builds a time machine, and they pause to see if they really did… we all hope for a moment that their future selves would appear and are equally disappointed as they are when nothing happens. There’s something ingrained in us that wishes we could travel through time.
 
I time travel on a regular basis. Usually to the past, but sometimes to the future. And it is always a learning experience.
 
I know you don’t believe me, but keep reading…
 
I’ll admit, the actual time travel is in my mind, but if you consider quantum mechanics, it’s very real. Though I can’t change our timeline or strike it rich on the first Sunday of February, time travel is still worth doing and is an amazing experience. And I’m creating no time travel paradoxes!
 
So ‘when’ do I go? The time I travel to most often is 1906-1930 in Ganado, Arizona. I’m there five days a week, operating Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operated trading post in the southwest. J.L. Hubbell established the post in 1876, but it wasn’t until 1906 that the trading post and the 160 acres it sits on were fully formed as the homestead you can see today.
 
Hubbell Trading Post is now a National Historic Site, and my mission is to keep the post running much as it did back in Hubbell’s day. Though Mr. Hubbell passed in 1930, his family continued to operate the trading post until the mid-sixties and then sold it to the National Park Service to keep it going. To this day, the post still has an Indian Trader, and visitors can witness Navajo rug weavers and other artists bring in their items to sell.
 
Recently, I’ve started going back much further in time. To the renaissance. If you’ve been to a renaissance festival, you know it’s fun to watch the jousting, eat a turkey leg, and basically watch the people, almost like you’re driving through a wild animal park. Like an immersive zoo. It isn’t until you actually work in a renaissance festival that you really get a true sense of renaissance life. Being required to dress, act and speak the part makes you so much more than an observer.
 
I just joined the Greyhound Guild, a nonprofit organization that participates in renaissance festivals and similar events to promote greyhound adoption. My two adopted greyhounds, Simon and River, recently joined me at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. River couldn’t handle the stress of time travel, okay she couldn’t handle the cannon fire, drums, and all the other scary noises, so hubby had to come and get her. But Simon handled time travel blithely. He pretty much slept all day while literally hundreds of people petted him. Heaven.
 
In 2017, I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. In the renaissance, I’m in merchant class dress, and I’ve had to learn how to walk without stepping on my dress or snagging it on just about everything. I drink out of a metal tankard. I cannot use contractions. Yea, I must only eat out of a wooden bowl. Nay, I must not grow my fingernails long or wear makeup or sunglasses. Fine, I don’t do those things in 2017.
 
I have fun in the past. The future is a little more tricky. We don’t have National Futuristic Sites. The closest thing to a Future Festival I suppose would be a sci-fi convention. But they don’t really celebrate the future, just fictional accounts that usually take place in the future. The fact is we don’t know the future, so how do I time travel there?
 
Like my excursions to the past, I am not a mere observer. I am a participant. That is the key. I can watch and read fictional accounts of the future, but until I participate in their shaping, I can only pretend to be there. Can only imagine what might happen.
 
As a writer and editor, I can participate in the shaping of stories about our future. As the editor for author C. Henry Martens, I have the unique position to not only check punctuation and grammar but to help Martens set the tone and direction of his apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories. These stories are so realistic, some reviewers have commented that they could be unfolding now.
 
I have begun to write some of my own short stories as well. Like much of sci-fi, these are cautionary tales of technologies now being developed and {gasp} used. We’ve seen so many fictional technologies brought to reality, it’s becoming more challenging to imagine new ones – let me rephrase that – fictional technologies are becoming more sophisticated than they used to be. And dangerous to our existence as humans.
 
And who knows, maybe someday we will actually be able to travel through time. Right now it is only possible in fiction, in our imaginations. But scientists have discovered gravitational waves….
 
It’s fun to time travel into the future, but it’s also more scary than the past. We know how the past ends.
 

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