I slotted Springsteen’s 2010 Darkness outtake set The Promise just behind Born to Run on my CD shelf. I had taken it out for a spin over the weekend.
The mistake is understandable given the context, and I realised it as soon as as the flap side nestled into the back board of the shelf. For a brief fraction of a second there, I keyed in control + z in my head.
The option to ‘undo your last action’ can be a faithful companion when you are threading uncertainly through the treacherous fields of spreadsheet formulas. It’s the bonanza ‘get out of jail’ card that enables you to exist within the space just slightly behind an actual decision. The breath just before you place your money where your words comfortably reside.
For that moment I did not require a clunky time machine to undo my very recent error. It would be far too much fanfare for something relatively insignificant. What I needed was a quick shortcut, one that wouldn’t rouse too much attention. A two-step fix that would undo what was obviously a silly mistake.
But of course there was no such cockadoodle. No technological fairy dust to whisk me out of my predicament. So I dragged it out like a big boy and slotted it near the back of my Springsteen section.
We enjoy dealing in broad strokes when it comes to sifting through ideals. After all, why settle for a star when you can have galaxies? I can understand the sentiment. The attraction of a time machine to the average person is not simply that it offers the ability for one to explore the past, but the opportunity for one to alter the past so that it improves our present and consequentially, our future. After all, the benefit of hindsight can be tragic and there are many sins of the distant past that many of us would love nothing better than to right, if we had the ability to travel back in time. On a fundamental level, it’s just geeky lingo for ‘not having to deal with consequences’.
But I have no such grand desires. I have formed an uneasy partnership with my past, in that I don’t knowingly rouse it and it basically just leaves me alone. I can rest comfortably with that idea for probably the rest of my days. So no, I do not need a grand piece of imaginary technology like a time machine. Instead what I really want is the simple ability to undo my last action. Just two keys, not the whole keyboard. To undo that slip of a hand that resulted in a bag of broken eggs, that last piece of fritter I should not have eaten or that white lie that I know I should not have told the moment it left my mouth. Nothing premeditated, just those almost-involuntary muscle slips that you want to quickly mop up and pretend like it never occurred in the first place.
Yeah just that. I’ve never been comfortable about dreaming ‘too big’ anyway …