Monday, May 08, 2006

The Past & the Future, Old Worlds & New

Ever since I started traveling a lot on my own a few years back, I've pretty much always had a window seat, or in only one case, an aisle. I guess it's relatively easy for airline staff to accomodate the seating request for one person - they just slot you in somewhere. But on Saturday, on the first leg of my flight, I didn't get a choice of seats (everyone seemed to have gotten to the airport before me). Which left me sitting in the middle of a row of seats for twelve hours. It wasn't as bad as I imagined though I'm hoping not to repeat it!

The interesting thing was that each of my seatmates spoke a different language (along with English). The man on the left was reading what looked like a Thai newspaper, while the couple on my right were speaking an East European language I couldn't identify. And then there was me.

Sometimes, I think it would be great to live in the past, in the wild times before civilization invaded every corner of the Earth. Imagine being a fly on the wall in the Renaissance, or a cowboy in the Wild West, or even a princess in the time of legend, of Camelot and magic. Or how about living as an Indian Rani (Queen) in the time of the Raj, or walking the explorers' path in Africa?

But then I realize that if I did, I'd miss out on all the exciting things technology allows us to do - like travel to all parts of the world, meet (and sit next to!) people from places you only know from tv or magazines, and be able to do all that in the space of mere hours instead of the journey taking weeks. Can you imagine what it must've been like for settlers in the past? When they left home, it was pretty much for good. Letters took weeks to arrive and hearing a family member's or friend's voice on the phone wasn't even a dream.

However inspite of all that, part of me wants to live in another time. Maybe the past isn't the best option for someone used to the conveniences of the present, but what about the future? Right now, I feel as if we're living in an age where exploration is in miniature - for example, advances in DNA and in genetic profiling, all take place on the microscopic level.

It's a great time to be a scientist, but I've always wanted to explore in a large way, to see new worlds and places. Perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to stories set in the future, when space travel is as easy as air travel now, and everyone can jump on a ship to explore the galaxy. And what if aliens really did exist, and weren't the horrible, human-eating kind from the Alien movies, but transcendent civlizations which could show and teach us more than we could ever have thought possible?

Then again, you could say that I go to new worlds each time I create a story. Maybe I am an explorer after all. :)

What about you - are you solidly of this Earth or do you dream of other places and times, the past and the future?


JLB said...

Oh I'm a total dreamer! Like you, I love the futuristic, the "way-out", and the sci-fi. I also dream of different time periods in human history, and even long for the days of no people... just incredible expanses of forests undisturbed by human hands!

You know, I even have a little "homestead" on the moon?! I know it sounds silly, and I doubt that my little deed really has anything beyond novelty value, but it gives me a lot to dream about (and something to hang on my wall).

Milady Insanity said...

Depends on what day you're asking.

Some days, I dream about worlds where men don't exist.

Nalini Singh said...

JLB - that real estate on the moon thing is awesome! How did you end up with it?

Milady - *snort* But that planet would be kind of boring doing you think?