Turning Back the Clocks…Turning Back Time

It’s that weekend again. You know, the one where we turn the clocks back an hour to recapture that hour we lost back in the spring. We get to sleep an hour later on Sunday morning, and who among us won’t enjoy that!

Or maybe you’d rather look at it as an extra hour in which to do something you enjoy. Read a bit longer, watch a longer movie, indulge yourself in a relaxing bubble bath, or play with your dog an extra hour (and I’m sure he’d enjoy that!). Even though we’re only retrieving that hour we lost a few months ago when we set the clocks ahead, well, we just feel a bit different about this time change, like we’re enjoying one of those unearned rewards, a guilty indulgence just for us!

Now let’s take things a step further. Let your imagination go and think a little bit on this Saturday morning. What would you do if you could turn your clocks back more than an hour and actually travel back in time? How far back would you turn them? Would it be days? Weeks? More?

One of the characters in Mitch Albom’s novel “The Timekeeper” tells of a young boy praying “please make it yesterday” so that his father would still be alive. Is that what you would want to do? Perhaps turn back your clocks to right before you got that phone call? Right before the doctor’s appointment? Perhaps turn back your clocks to at least one day before a loved one died? Several days before? Would you want to use the time to change the outcome, or just tell them all the things you didn’t get the opportunity to say?

How many times do we say, if only I could go back and do things differently for just that one event, that one moment. If I could just take it all back, make it go away. I’d get it right this time…

But what would you be giving up if you did that?

A woman who recently went through a horrible divorce told me, “I wish I’d never met that man! That I hadn’t married him! I had a few doubts, and should’ve listened to them. But I thought we loved each other, and I never imagined he’d do this to me….”

Ahhh….but just remember if you went back in time and changed that moment, it would change everything in your life from that moment on, and in the lives of everyone around you. You wouldn’t have the children you love so much; they wouldn’t exist, because they are uniquely yours and your ex-husband’s. And those grandchildren that you adore…no, they wouldn’t be here either.

So that’s not a good idea.

But what about those tragedies that we could possibly stop if we went back in time. Surely that would be worth it? Like the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks. 9-11. All the school shootings. Those are great thoughts, and wouldn’t it mean all those people would have been able to live out their lives happily and peacefully? Most likely. But…what would the perpetrators of those tragedies have done if their original plans had been prevented? Would they have tried something else and succeeded? Something much worse?

For every action there is an opposite reaction.

Author Stephen King wrote a novel a few years ago called “11.22.63” about a man who tries to go back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination. It’s an excellent read, and really makes you think about the “what if?” Especially the ending. What if you could go back in time and alter history?

Even if you could do that, time continues on, and we cannot stop it. You would still experience much of whatever it was that happened a few hours, or a few days or even weeks, after the clocks were turned back. Your today would still be your today, but a bit different from the one you’re living though right now. The concept of changing the past to affect the future makes for an interesting book or movie plot, but in reality, we all know that is not possible.

Perfect endings only exist in our dreams, in our imagination. Changing just one part of history, of one person’s story, would impact far more lives than we can imagine; not just one person. Because every day our actions can affect hundreds of other lives, in many different ways.

So when you turn that clock back tonight, just change the time and enjoy that extra hour. It won’t change your life, or the past, or anyone else’s, but you’ll still get an extra hour of sleep in the morning!

And by the way, that extra hour of sleep is to prepare you for it suddenly getting dark by 5:00 at night. And that’s a whole other topic….

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