If you could go back in time, would you?

Dinna fash yourself, Sassenach. 

These words, spoken often by Jamie Fraser, the red-haired Scottish hero of the STARZ series Outlander, to his spunky British wife, Claire, mean Don’t worry yourself, Outlander.  Jamie’s pet name for Claire, Sassenach, refers to British persons, considered outlanders (outsiders) by the Highlanders.  Little does Jamie know, when Claire mysteriously appears in the middle of the Scottish woods one day, that she is more of an “outlander” than his 18th century brain can ever fathom.

I am in love with this saga, based on the series of books by Diana Gabaldon.  Claire, while on a second honeymoon in Scotland after World War II with her British husband,  gets sucked hundreds of years into the past through Stonehenge-style rocks. There she meets Jamie, her soulmate across time, whom she marries, which turns her into a sort of bigamist. Together they face war,  endure trauma and tragedy and, after Claire confesses the truth about herself, attempt to change the future of the Highlanders’ fate. Through it all, their love story inspires. It’s truly the stuff of dreams and fantasies.

As much as I love a good romance, I’m more intrigued by the notion of being able to go back in time. I’ve often thought how cool it would be to go back to when dinosaurs roamed the planet. If I had a chance to do it, even if it meant never coming back (or is it forward) to the present day, and probably getting eaten by one of those giant lizards, if I didn’t starve to death first, I’d go in a second. I mean, to see a living, breathing dinosaur!  I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it.

A friend of mine, a professor emeritus of physics, spent his entire career studying time travel (in the early years on the sly, lest his colleagues think him a quack). His name is Ron Mallett and the story of why he became obsessed with building a time machine was turned into a book, Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a RealityRon was kind enough to volunteer his time at a leadership conference I’d organized for students, and we’ve been friendly ever since. I love picking his physicist’s brain over our occasional lunches. Much of what he says goes over my English major head, like the time he tried to explain the existence of parallel universes by stirring a cup of coffee, and his reasoning for why he believes in a higher power. While Ron has accepted that time travel will not happen in his lifetime, he remains optimistic. He believes it will likely begin with Morse code-like messages sent back and forth between people living in different dimensions.  How amazing is that?

I’m curious – if you could go back in time, would you? If so, where would you go and why? If someone told you he or she was a time traveler, would you believe it?

Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.