Friday, October 12, 2012

If I Could Save Time: A Personal Memoir

My pleasure-reading cycle has brought me again to an old favorite: Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South, a somewhat corny-in-concept story about how a group of South African apartheid fanatics from 2013 bring AK-47s back to 1864 to help the South win the Civil War. Inevitably, any time I read Turtledove, I begin to consider what I'd do with a time machine and it actually worked as it should (which, based on time-travel theory, it probably would not, as I want it to; but that's another story).

The answer: I'd send my prior self in the late 1980s all of my articles, as well as all of Glenn Miller's articles from the ThinkTank, and strangle a lot of the current contrary material out there in its cradle. I'd be there the fastest with the mostest when the Internet came to its own. and all the rest would be outdated and on the defensive more so than they are now, from the very start.

There'd be problems, too, of course. I'd have to figure out a way to give references for factual material and claims from books that were published from the late 80s on. In Turtledove's novel, the Confederates discover a cache of books from the future, but General Lee -- who becomes the Confederate President in this version -- is duly cautious about how and when to use the knowledge those books give him; using the knowledge, particularly, without revealing where he got it.

There's also the technology issue. Sending myself a thumb drive or a notebook with all the articles wouldn't work. I'd likely need a whole lot of the (now) old-fashioned A-drive disks. My current Dell doesn't have such a drive, but I still have the older Dell which does.

There'd be personal issues to consider too. My beloved Mrs H -- who at the time I was engaged to -- would probably find it all hard to believe, but she's a smart, sensible woman who would accept it with enough evidence and do her best to help me out. A couple of other people I knew at the time would accept it, too; but most of the ministry-associated people I know now, I did not know then. 

I'm having some fun meandering here, but there's (always) a serious point. Time is a non-renewable resource, and it is one I'm particularly sensitive to. Mrs H will tell you that I have a lot of time-related things down pat -- I can figure out, by instinct alone, exactly when we should leave to get from Point A to Point B by a certain time. 

Having recently met other members of the Holding family I once did not know, I'm also now aware that if I stay reasonably healthy, I'll likely live into my 90s. One aunt of mine in her mid-80s survived cancer and lives on her own very well. An uncle I met in Texas died just recently, but he was in his 90s and had no serious health problems other than needing a cane to walk. His mind was as sharp as it was when he was a young man (when he was a sharpshooter in the Pacific war), and he did not have a gradual decline as some do before he died. 

Based on family history, I probably have a lot of time left available to me. But I still consider every moment a gift to be used to best advantage for the greater good.

So there you go. That's one of my driving forces. Jim Croce had the right idea about saving time in a bottle, though I'd use it for a lot more than he imagined.

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