15 Minutes in Time

Several blogs recently have posted something they call, “A Letter to my 18-year-old Self”.  It’s an interesting exercise: knowing what you know now, what would you warn your young self about; advise him/her about? I’m sure most of us have thought at one time or another – if only I had it to do over again, I would…..

But what about taking this concept to another, more global, level? Knowing what you know now, what would you do if you could go back to any moment in time and make one small change? You only have 15 minutes. Where would you go and what would you do? What would you hope to accomplish with this action?

You might, for instance, want to trip Frau Hitler at the top of a staircase when she first gets pregnant.  Or you might want to answer the phone instead of Watson and explain to Mr. Bell how this piece of crap is going to spiral out of control and that he should drop the whole idea and focus on the hydrofoil thing. (It wouldn’t have taken much. I understand he hated telephones).  Or maybe you’d drop in on Captain Smith and explain to him exactly how an iceberg was going to ruin his career.

Or maybe not even something momentous like that. Maybe you just want to knock on Elvis’ bathroom door in time to get his bloated belly pumped so he could grow old and live to give Lisa Marie a good hiding when she comes home to announce she’s going to marry Michael Jackson. Every little effort helps to make the world a better place after all.

I think I’d like to go to that grassy knoll on November 23rd, 1963 and bring a few cops along.  I don’t know exactly what sort of an impact that would have, but that date and event always seem to be pinpointed as the moment when the world lost its innocence. It would be nice to try and recapture that — kind of like re-virginizing — just to see how different things might turn out.

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18 responses to “15 Minutes in Time

  1. I’ve always wondered why they said the world lost its innocence when Kennedy died. I tend to think that’s bullshit.

    And cynic that I am, I tend to believe that if he had lived he would have screwed up as much as any other president. He is touted as the best president ever simply because he never had the time to screw up.

  2. Meanie & Jobthingy – Okay, I won’t do any new posts until you’ve both had a chance to come up with something brilliant!

    Helen – Any idea where and when that would be? And how would you prevent it? Maybe show the inventor guy some groovy 1970s high school year books?

    Jazz – Sigh. Ya, we did end up hearing a lot of weird things about JFK for years and years. I don’t know. The world certainly changed with a vengence from the mid-60s on. Whether it was because of JFK’s death or not is another question. Probably it was all inevitable anyway. Probably it was just innocent before that because they were still able to keep a lot of information from the public back then. Now we know everything instantly.

  3. i can’t think of something on a global level that impacted the world (other than the ones you mentioned). it seems that everything bad that happens builds steam rather have one defining moment (with the exception of the obvious like bad people who should never have been born).

    on a more personal level, my gut still lurches when i think about a time at university when i was bad talking a “friend”, and i mean really bad talking, only to turn around and find her right behind me, having heard everything i said. stupid stupid me. if i could take that one, hurtful moment back, i would.

    on a frivolous level, one night i went to go see social distortion and i had an opportunity to party with the band, and my rock god husband, mike ness. i was already late for curfew though, and the thought of worrying my parents tugged at me more than Ness and i went home. my parents would have gotten over it, but i have never gotten over not meeting Mike (however, i hear he can be a dick, so maybe my bubble would have been popped).

  4. 15 minutes? A small change? Am I omnipotent?
    I would force a recount in the 2000 American Presidential election … or force uniform voting techniques across States … anything to erase the last eight years of Republican rule. I’m certain the world would have been a better place with Al Gore in charge. He’s as fallible as the next person, but I’m pretty sure he’s a better person that the man who stole his presidency.

    Sorry for getting political – but you asked! :P

  5. A) The assassination of JFK DID create a loss of innocence for a generation. I was six years old, and was a victim of it. I saw a man – for no good reason, to my mind – being shot and killed while he was with his wife, in their car, smiling and waving at people, and in general, being a good guy. Would he have been the same as any other president had he had the chance to live? He CERTAINLY would never have been the IDIOT that George W. Bush turned out to be. George W. Bush can’t even string two sentences together, even after rehearsing them all day – usually – if not always – words people far more intelligent than him have written for him. Kennedy, as I came to learn as I got older, said GREAT things, and had GREAT dreams for America. George W. Bush was raised in an OIL RICH family, and had his way purchased through college.
    But, history would have demonized Kennedy somehow, had he lived…but that’s hardly the point.
    The point is – innocence WAS lost – because little boys and girls around the world watched a man – traveling with his wife, in a convertible down a street in Dallas, smiling and waving – have his f**king head blown off on TV! and why?

    Would I go back and alter that piece of our history if I could? Absolutely.

    B) No one has mentioned September 11th, 2001.
    It would be the first thing I’d go back to stop.
    C) End Hitler, however possible, before he came to power.
    D) End Saddam Hussein, before he came to power.
    E) End Bin Laden

    These few things might make the world a better place to live, or they might not – but they’d be worth a try.

  6. Maybe April 4th 1968…

    Personally I’m not sure I’d change much. Globally,it’s almost like you’d need to sit and look at how it all unfolded… where do you begin? Does it all tie in…

    Very profound…

  7. Sigh. All my immediate thoughts on this subject have to do with changing moments in my own personal life. I don’t even have to think about them either (Porcupine related) as I already know specifically the moments I should have done differently.

    And now I know for sure what I already suspected: I’m so selfish! :-P

    I will try to give the global aspect more thought…..

  8. Would it even be possible for me to change something that hasn’t happened yet? In fact, I could write a letter to my 18 year old self, I’d just have to keep it for a few years to open it again. In fact, I might just do that, so that when I am starting college I can look back at how much of a pompous weirdo I was. heh

    I’ve never seen a reason thus far to change something in the past. I often don’t remember a fight that I got into with a friend, only recalling the good times. It’s not like I could change the outcome of someone else’s life for the better.

    And it wouldn’t be better for me if I changed anything. Just different. I have confidence that in any reasonable situation I am in that I will for the most part deal with it.

  9. Meanie – Oh ya, it definitely builds up steam, but the fun of this exercise is to try to think of one single moment that just might make some difference if it were changed. It’s interesting to speculate

    JB – Hey – you only get ONE moment!! But you illustrate the loss of innocence very well. Very much the same way 9/11 pulled the rug out from under us in that we no longer feel really safe anywhere.

    Nat – Ya MLK was a biggie, too — you wonder how things would have unfolded if he’d lived to fulfill his dream and if that would have profoundly changed the racial situation. It’s amazing the impact one person can have on a global scale — so you have to wonder how much would have changed if that person had never existed or existed for a longer period of time than they were allowed.

    Lesley – okay, but we’re not going anywhere until you report back, young lady. You’re keeping us all waiting…remember that!

    Violetsky – You’ve clearly not had enough wine. Have more and come back. Better yet, share and we’ll brainstorm

    Aziza – Isn’t there something you’d like to change about the world? Can you think of any time in history that you could visit and do something to alter the course of the events?

    Janna – Meanwhile, help us change the world.

  10. Well…I believe in the POWER of martyrdom to make THINGS happen so I wouldn’t change any of the pivotal deaths that have happened through time….

    I think…I’d have to heavily research the time frame to do this effectively – I’d stop a mega corporations from forming – I’ll choose Monsanto because I think it is a psychotic evil in the world.

    Save a seed, reclaim the earth.

    If could change one thing in my own life…I’d have pressed charges December 2003.

  11. So Pontius Pilate said to Jesus, You’re just another itinerant teacher get out of hear and stop causing trouble.
    Gosh without his martyrdom what would all the good Christians do to justify millions of other martyrs.
    Pontius got back t his first love, creating a new exercise programme for dancers and other elite, effete, artists.

  12. Lesley – Come ON! There are like a billion years of history to choose from.

    Mudmamma – Monsanto’s a good one, but I don’t think heavy research is required. Overthinking this question is going to result in no answer because really, anything you can do in 15 minutes isn’t going to make a huge difference. As many people have mentioned, actions are cumulative. Even if you go back and eliminate Monsanto itself, another entity like it would spring up to take its place.

    Bandobras – Have you been drinking?