I confess: I am a compulsive time traveler!

•March 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

When I was a kid, I wanted to move around in time. And now I can. The problem: it’s only in one direction: back. I can listen to old tapes and watch old videos and I’m back in an earlier part of my life. Old newsreels give the illusion of being decades in the past. And books paint a picture of yesteryear in an even more illuminating way.

Today I was back in 1804 thanks to Ron Chernov’s book, Alexander Hamilton. As I listened to the audio book I felt as if I were on site as Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr on Weehawken Island across the Hudson from New York City. The bullet ripped into Hamilton’s diaphragm and through his liver and lodged near his backbone. Hamilton died, surrounded by his family, the next day.

Why is this important? Is it the surreal nature of it all? A sitting Vice President knocking off a man who, although still very powerful, was once a second most powerful man in the country as Treasury Secretary under George Washington. That part is surely intriguing, but there is the usual what if scenario. What if Hamilton had lived? I don’t readily have the answer to the speculation through the War of 1812 and up to Andrew Jackson and the bank. Or what of Hamilton’s abolitionist tendencies? All powerful forces of alternative realities.

The Many Worlds theory in quantum physics would have Hamilton survive the July, 11th duel or an infinite number of other alternatives. I’m a writer and while I have a vague understanding of the unfolding possibilities, I rely on the imagination to get me into other worlds.
But to get back to the question of why I am so enamored with time travel. That goes more to human nature as well as the power to step back in time. The kid in me feels the exhilaration of being in another time and place. In a larger and more mature way I feel the trepidation of the seconds to the duel, the intense sense of honor championed by both men, the aiming of the pistols, and the bullet piercing Hamilton’s gut.

It’s the emotion of human drama that captivates me and that drama had great ramifications for the United States of America.