Change the Past, or See the Future?

I’m at my favorite Starbucks for writing these days.  Michael is on his way to Salt Lake Comic Con, and my wife isn’t feeling so great this evening, so I’m on my own.  It’s time to warm up with a blog post, then get back to editing.

After connecting to the wifi, the Starbucks login screen presented me with the question: Would you rather change the past or see the future?  I selected my answer with almost no hesitation, then checked the results.

What would you choose?  Why?

According to the results, 35% of the other 47,000 people that answered the question would change the past.  Most people would rather know the future.

This is a somewhat profound result.  Without any other data, I’m left to wonder about the other people that answered the question.  Are the past changers people plagued with regret?  Are most of the people taking the poll young, with their eyes focused on the future?  Are future knowers just looking for an easy way to win the lottery?

As for me, I would change the past.  I think it’s the right answer.

I would go back and have more meaningful conversations with my father before he passed away.  I would enjoy my time in school more.  I’d have more fun with my friends, and spend less time afraid of things I shouldn’t have feared the first time around.

I might try to warn the world about the follies of electing George W. Bush.  I might try to warn about September 11th before it happened.  I’d love to make the world a better place by stopping disasters, but I don’t know if it would be possible.  There are some truths people are unwilling to accept even when presented with evidence, and what evidence would I have?  It’d be like trying to warn about global warming.

Knowing the future wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing, in my opinion.  I’m reminded of a Twilight Zone episode.  In it, a robber died while trying to rob a bank.  In his afterlife, everything he attempted succeeded.  He won every hand at cards.  All his schemes were successful.  He no longer experienced danger.  Then, he stopped taking joy in his accomplishments, because they were all hollow.  At the end, he asked his host, “What kind of heaven is this?” And his host said, “Whoever told you this was heaven?”

I believe knowing the future would be something like that.  The mystery of the future is one of the great joys we take for granted.  The unknown of the future is the power behind anticipation.  It’s what makes discovery so thrilling.

The life I’m living is good.  My desire to change the past has nothing to do with changing my present condition.  My wife loves me dearly.  My children are healthy, happy, decent people.  My job is great, and I’m proud of my accomplishments.  I don’t want to give any of that up.

At the same time, there are experiences that I let slip by.  As with my writing journey, fear stayed my hand more often than it should have.  To turn back the clock and be bolder would be a real gift.

As opposed to spoiling the future, the way one might spoil the end of a good book or movie.  No thank you.

What would you choose?

In other news, Blog-tober is quickly approaching.  Once again, I’m going try and post something every day in the month of October.  It’s a great exercise in preparation for November.

Speaking of November, I’m going to try and have the second draft of The Repossessed Ghost done before then.  I’ve made some huge progress the last few weeks.  I want to have it done and in the drawer before I start a new story.

Now, dear friend, let me ask you something I’ve never asked before: Is there anything you’d like me to talk about here, on this blog?

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