Friday, December 17, 2010

If You Could Stop Time

"What would you do if you could stop time?" is a question I sometimes ask interesting people. Perhaps it's a selfish, subconscious yearning to add insight to my own answer. The question is important enough because it asks, "What would the root of you do right now, alone in the context of this world, with the aging process posing no barrier?" It's you, undiluted by the influence of others, with only the rest of the world and its history. It's a question that helps you ponder who you are, and few things are more worth knowing than your place and purpose.

Of course, the mechanics of the idea make for a lot of questions. For you to be ageless and absorb this world, man's contributions should be ageless, too. To make things simpler: things work as they normally would—as if paused—and don't degrade over time. That means streetlamps still turn on and roadways don't succumb to weather. Natural disasters only occur away from civilization. Of course, the news channels are static and you only get reruns of Mad Men, but what do you expect? You can be hurt, become ill, or die. None of that jumping off building Matrix stuff, we're keeping it simple. There will be no human bodies around to make love to consensually or otherwise. All other lifeforms proceed as normal. Time resumes at your request and you may only cease it once.

The first thing I'd do? Go out, steal a DS and the latest copy of Pokemon, and catch 'em all. That's what I'd do. Why? Well, they need catching, for one. I want a piece of that satisfaction. In the real world, no one over 16 can justify spending 30 hours catching imaginary animals. After that, I'd huddle up and read for 40 years. It'd be comforting to live in an underground lair and sleep in a bedroom surrounded by the books you've amassed, like V from the V for Vendetta graphic novel. Finally, I could watch any movie without worry of how bad or boring it might be. To take in all that knowledge that only asks that you desire it would be a joy. It'd be nice to silently absorb all of man's ideas, marvel in what you can make of her history, and sate your brain's passive curiosity in an equally passive manner—without the ruckus, fireworks and fear humankind is usually causing.

The lair idea's far-fetched. I don't feel like building or finding one. I'd take residence in a grocery store. A nice one, not the Walmart or Aldi's I frequent. Yeah, I'd set up shop somewhere close to the bathroom and deli section. Maybe put up some curtains so I could leave the lights on. Since man-influenced nature is in a sort of limbo, the supply of food could last a great while. I'd start with some pepperoncinis, and it'd be fun to watch the bottles and cans in the aisle pile up. Eventually, I'd smuggle a gokart into the store. Perhaps I'd head over to the pharmacy at some point and pop some painkillers, as no one will be around to judge me.

Decades and many grocery stores later I'd finally be inclined to 'borrow' a pickup truck and explore. First I'd pick up a long, snazzy coat and a rifle I could wear with a strap over my shoulder. My need to carry a gun is the only reason animals exist in this world. The pickup would be filled to the brim with food, water, and medical supplies. My hands would be outfitted with fingerless gloves. My toolbelt would carry gadgets and other cool stuff. I'd rarely shower—who do I need to impress? It'd be fun to go from home to home and search some random life. It'd be curious to explore a big, docked ship. It'd be interesting to access areas of buildings or cities we're normally not allowed to. It might be enlightening to find and pry the privacy of some young person's diary.

Any knowledge gained from the years spent in solitude might inspire more interesting desires for a man with limitless access to the globe. I couldn't nearly know now. All I have is an intimidating impulse to live life to the fullest. Best—or at worst—I'd have retained a great knowledge, providing me a leg up when it comes to socialization and society. Imagine the advantage of never having to feign a smile because you understand not only the situation, but why you're reacting in a certain way to it. Or, using your new-found insight to improve your surroundings in a way that's sensible and suits you.

The initial question is a simple way to put complex problems into perspective. I find I'd have to solve the world's problems to solve my own. They are my problems. The Earth's a neurotic, cruel mess of a planet. Certainly it's no more healthy than it is unhealthy, characterizing it under that frail and lukewarm state of mundane. What have people I've asked said? One said she'd ride her bike all day in summer's weather; one said he'd steal money and blow up buildings; another said she would put on her headphones, a backpack, trail off into the wilderness and likely die.

1 comment:

  1. best post yet, except for those sexy craigslist ones. with all the sex and stuff.