Your Own Personal Time Machine

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   Posted by: BJ Johnson in philosophy, writing

Keeping with the Time Travel theme, here's a really cool philosophical exercise that I have often posed to colleagues and friends over the years. It tells you a lot about yourself; especially, like any good broth, after you have let it simmer for a while:

Time (and obviously money) being no object, list the 10 people that you would most like to be able to spend a day with.

A pretty heavy opportunity when you fully consider it. Future, past, famous, infamous, icons, obscure, the gregarious, the recluse—anyone. The possibilities are seemingly endless. But are they?

  • No limits on where, when or who (may even be fictional).
  • You may alter your list at any time, changing the order of importance or replacing individuals entirely.
  • No limit on time to complete your list. In fact, once your list has begun, it never really completely stops.
  • Although you may choose to keep it private, you are encouraged to publish it in a comment to this post, so that others may learn from your experience and unique viewpoint. Sharing your values, both with yourself and others, is what this exercise is all about. Feel free to discuss. You may very well change someone else's list; setting them on a new path.

The reason that there is no limit on time to complete or that you may alter it as you go, is that this list is meant to be dynamic and to mature. That's what tells you about yourself. As your mind realizes certain aspects of its own preferences and detractors, the priorities will change—and the list with them.

Certain individuals may have escaped your focus entirely when you began your list. Adding them will bump some off the list. That is a decision only you must make. Sometimes, this is difficult. This period is when the list is most dynamic, often enervating and sometimes surprising.

Aspects of some on the list will come to light that you had overlooked or had discounted originally. This will change their placement in the list, up or down, and may eventually bump some off the list. This sorting, sifting and winnowing is what will lead you to better understand who you are, what you value and that which you wish to learn.

It is a way to take a look at yourself... from outside yourself.

It's been some time since I have adjusted my list. Like all of them, it has been aged and refined over the years. I'll not influence your choices by inserting mine here, but will post it in a sequel, once we have some lists to discuss.

I challenge you...

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8 Responses to Your Own Personal Time Machine


I'll be bold and share my initial list:
The Dali Lama
Mother Theresa
Lady Diana
Emilia Earhart
Madame Curie
Abraham Lincoln
Thomas Jefferson
Buzz Aldrin
Sarah Bahn Breathnach

February 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Pretty good list, Julie. Amelia is one of my favorites, too, as are Abe and Thom. We can introduce you to Buzz, if you like.

    February 20, 2011 at 12:32 am
Joy Alyssa Day

Hmm... I don't know if I can come up with 10 off the top of my head, but I can mention a few:
Albert Einstein
Abraham Lincoln
Mark Twain
Stephen Hawking
Albus Dumbledore
Leonardo DaVinci
Jean-Luc Picard
Izhak Perlman

Ohh, I guess I could come up with 10! Yay!

February 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Oh, I like Michelangelo, Albus Dumbledore and Aslan. I might also add my Dad. I think, I'll toss Lady Di and put in Dad to see what he's been up to and what he's learned with hanging out with God. I might toss Sara for Jean-Luc or Spock. I like Perlman too.

February 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    @julie after her first reorganization:
    Pretty cool, eh? I love stuff like this!

    February 20, 2011 at 12:33 am
Steve Wren

It's hard to stop at 10!
Martin Luther
Martin Luther King Jr.
Cecile B. Demille
Benjamin Franklin
William Shakespeare
St. John
Helen Keller
My Great Great Grandfather

February 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    @Steve Wren
    Now we're talkin'. Ben is one of my favorites, too. What a cool d00d. I often wonder if he and I are related.

    On stopping at 10: that's why there is a limit. It forces refining. Much like a Formula 1 grid, the top ten cars are separated by hundredths or thousandths of a second. Very rich grouping, indeed.

    February 20, 2011 at 12:45 am

Leonardo da Vinci
Thursday Next
Ernst Cassirer
Erich Fromm
Chesley Bonestell
Lazarus Long
Konstantin Stanizlavsky

February 20, 2011 at 11:55 am
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