I don’t know about you but time management is one of those things I always seek to get better at, given there is plenty I’d like to do (especially in writing) but there are still only 24 hours in any one day!
I like my lists, my calendar has plenty of notes scribbled all over it, and by the end of the week, I’ve usually achieved a reasonable amount of what I set out to do. I’ve learned to carve up bigger tasks (like editing my novel) into smaller chunks and accept there are simply some tasks that can’t be done all at once, no matter how much I’d like to do so!
So far my real success in time management is when I remember to change the clocks backwards and forwards as required, though often my better half beats me to it! (Is it just me or is there always at least one you forget to do? It’s either the car clock or the central heating one. I am pleased my phone and computer update themselves. That’s two less to worry about! Having said that, I would be happy to pick one time and stick with it but that’s another debate for another time, pun totally intended).
My mother never bothered with time management as such. Certain days were set aside for certain tasks and that was that. Monday was ALWAYS wash day (unless Christmas Day fell on a Monday). Tuesdays saw her get the ironing done and so on. But in her own way, Mum mastered her time and used it as she saw best (which ultimately is all any of us can do).
A common topic in science fiction and fantasy is mastering time. This I think reflects on the very human desire to have more time than we actually do have.
One of the perils of Doctor Who is in NOT upsetting history, meddling with time has consequences, yet the Doctor carries on and meddles anyway! I wouldn’t want to be the Doctor, even if I could be. The temptation to change time to suit me would be far too strong to resist.
The consequences of doing so could be dreadful, which is the constant theme running through most stories about time travel. Rightly so too. Actions have consequences, no matter how small. It doesn’t take much to change history. Think about what would have happened had a certain assassination had not happened in 1914 or 1963 come to that. Talking of the latter…
Red Dwarf many years ago had a wonderful episode showing our heroes unintentionally saving JFK (they knocked the assassin out of a window by mistake) and then saw how the world changed (and not for the better) so had to go back and put things right.
In the Harry Potter series Hermione Granger is given a Time Turner so she can be in two places at once as she wants to study several subjects and this was the only way for her to do that, but I thought it was quite right at the end of this particular book, she was happy to give the thing back, finding the whole process exhausting. Well you would, wouldn’t you? (I’d worry about losing track of what I was doing where and when).
But ignoring the practicalities for a moment, if you could travel in time, where would you go and why? Just as importantly, what would you do and why?
I can think of a few things I’d do.
1. Go back and find out what really did happen to the Princes in the Tower so Richard III is cleared or condemned but with proof behind that. We’d know then. (Naturally I’d like to think Richard would be cleared).
2. Arrange for the invention of the printing press and the improvement in literacy rates to happen much sooner than they did, on the grounds I’d want as many as possible to get the benefit of this.
3. Arrange for the invention of the flushing lavatory and Joseph Bazelgette’s work to be done much sooner. How many lives would have been spared over the centuries thanks to improved sanitation, which is one of those blessings it is far too easy to take for granted?
(The church I go to usually has an annual charity project and we select who we support on a “home” and “away” basis. One year we support a UK based charity, another year we look for overseas ones etc. One I was pleased we supported was Water Aid. See the link for more on what they do though I have noticed I sometimes get notes about what they do with my water bill every year. Now there is advertising I understand and approve of!).
As for time travel, I really don’t know about going into the future though. I can see all the disadvantages of that and one of the biggest is bound to be the fact I wouldn’t like what I saw there. When I came back “here”, would my life be coloured by what I had seen? I think so.
So time travel then for me would be going back to favourite periods of history and finding out for myself what life had been like. I have the suspicion I wouldn’t stay in any of these periods for long. I’d want to get back to the present day fairly quickly.
H G Wells’ The Time Machine popularised the idea of time travel as a story device. This was first published in 1895, and over a century later, the idea of it still fascinates and encourages stories. Maybe one day it will actually be possible.
Science fiction can sometimes become science fact (though I’m quite happy to pass on the idea of The Day of the Triffids ever becoming “real”! Can you imagine the chaos in the garden centres as plants took over the world?! Am loathe to say more in case I give the plot away but it is a great book and I highly recommend it.).
Humanity is at its best when it strives whether it is in the fields of athletics, the creative arts, the sciences and so on. There is much to appreciate in the present day then and perhaps we should stop wondering about making time do our bidding.
Going back in time, even if is only through the pages of a well written book, should bring that appreciation to the fore. The important thing is humanity shouldn’t ever stop striving. The day we do we are all in trouble.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.