I just wrote a pretty hefty entry on Yahoo Answers that bears repeating, and a little more elaboration.
Going about my daily life, I have any number of different choices I make which effect and influence my future.
With these choices, there are an infinite number of potential futures I have as I move forward in time.
Not all these futures are amenable.
And some are in fact greatly preferred.
So let’s say a time traveler comes back to me today from one of those potential futures.
And that time traveler says or does something so profound – so important to me – that this influences the decisions I make from the choices I am confronted with from that point moving forward.
My timeline, intact – keeps on chugging on, and to me, I may just dismiss that time traveler.
…. But wait. Let’s back up.
Let’s say you’re a time traveler.
And not just your history, but your planet’s history – you want to change.
You have your reasons.
So you go back in time.
You drop the right word in someone’s ear.
This inspires them to do something dramatically different than they did in your timeline.
But let’s say you remain in this time period you just traveled to.
The timeline you grew up with and the history of the world you left behind STILL exists and can be revisited by you at any given point in time. To some degree, this can be thought of as your anchor, and is what created you.
The new timeline, which holds a future you’re uncertain of because it’s in a past you altered the future of. Is now deviating – this is referred to as a branch – from the timeline you’d separated from.
Now AS a time traveler for those you altered and influenced the timeline of.
Let’s presuppose there was a very valid reason for that timeline you’d left behind, and your presence doesn’t eliminate that reason.
And you want a future devoid of that future you saw so badly.
This stands the potential of creating another branch in time.
Integrating memories of your to avoid repetition of the same event that caused you to come back to begin with.
These ‘memories’ – in much the same way that songs were sung to help black slaves escape the slavery during the Civil War – may be preserved in the culture of the civilization undergoing this ‘time war’ – as fictional material and media become primary sources to preserve the memories of the events.
So for the time traveler. While at first there was one linear time stream, his or her influence by time traveling may have just been responsible for creating not just one branch in time – but a potentially infinite number of variations.
While they call them actors on my planet who appear across space and time.
There’s little actual evidence actors are actually here.
Growing up. I believed the people I saw on the tv screen were actors living in a place called Hollywood.
Little did I know my developing mind didn’t understand time and space and that my own mind was forming these images and was reusing the images of actors across space and time.
I’d never realized there were infinite potential versions of me and everyone else, including this place called Planet Earth.
And that I was learning how to make choices.