What would you miss if you were to travel back in time?
First I was enamored with my iPod. I was thrilled with the idea of being able to listen to podcasts or music at work. When I was a receptionist listening to history podcasts kept me sane. Next, I fell in love with my iPhone; oh how I loved the apps the touch screen keyboard, which was so easy on my middle age eyes, and having books on the go. I was awed by all the things this small handheld device could do. As a child of the original Star Trek era, the future seemed to be in my hand. Now it is the iPad that blows my mind. I have reading choices without having to carry multiple books in my already overflowing purse. Being able to look at exhibits from the British Museum and science videos from several sites is something I am not sure I will ever get over. I can take Facebook and Twitter with me, and can be entertained by Angry Birds when I find myself waiting at the doctor’s or DMV. No, this is not a commercial for Apple, I just happen to have Apple products. I am just as amazed at a co-worker’s Koby. She is the one that turned me on to a radio app that allows me to finally listen to radio without static interference (which may say more about my house, than my radios). I am amazed by our current technology for two reasons. I grew up in the pre-DVD and cell phone era. I can remember not that long ago we did not have anything close to this technology. Hell, I remember when we got our first answering machine. My mother was so excited to know she would never miss another phone call, now we take our phones with us. The other reason I am amazed is because having lived in the country where the power went out every winter, I know how to live with the basics. I understand what we really need in order to live comfortably. Everything else is pure magic!
I love reading a good time traveling book in which the main character(s) find themselves thrust into the past. I want to know how they will react to being without the comforts of modern living. I am disappointed when an author ignores this obvious plot point. This I think would be the most interesting part of the book.
Take the popular novel Outlander for example, for a book that is about a million pages long, Gabaldon, hardly mentions anything that Claire may miss. She easily adapts to her environment without even a glance back to her former life. Being a nurse, you would think she would be obsessed with personal hygiene. The first thing I would miss and try to re-create? A toothbrush would be number one on my list of must haves, nope, can’t do without.
During the middle ages teeth were cleaned with a rough cloth dipped in an herbal mixture. The wealthy chewed on cloves, cinnamon and mint. As nice as this may be, I would quickly develop Mac Gyver like skills to come up with some type of toothbrush.
A change of clothing would be next. When I was doing research on medieval garments I was shocked to learn that even royalty wore the same chemise ( or tunic, depending on what scholar’s work you are reading) to bed that that they wore under their mantle during the day. For many women, this undergarment was worn days on end, for the poor this may have gone on for years. Could you imagine wearing the same thing day in and day out? I can’t, which is why one of the first things I would want learn is how to sew. The idea of wearing the same sweaty cloths day after day makes me want to go take a shower right now.
I could go on, but you get the point, there are some basic things that we take for granted, that I cannot live without. Yes, I love my toys but they are not things I need. These are not things that are necessary for survival (though admittedly I would miss being able to do a Google search on “how to”). Maybe this is why I am still awed by them; I understand they are designed to make our comfortable life fun.
So dear Reader, what is that you could not live without? What would be on your list of must haves for all time travelers?
I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.
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