An interesting question was posed the other day — the sort of question, in the words of the 1968 Noel Harrison song, that appeals to the circles that I find in the windmills of my mind.

“If you had a time machine, would you rather go backwards 500 years or forwards 500 years? The only catch is you can’t come back.”

The big question is how screwy do you want your life to be? Both prospects are scary. You’d be a fish out of water with either choice, making a retro leap back to Robin Hood and his band of merry men in Sherwood Forest, or jumping forward into the unknown, making the sci-fi hyperspace leap to the Enterprise at best or the post-apocalyptic world of the simpleton Eloi and cannibalistic Morlocks at the worst. I’d rather sell the time machine to some schmuck who thinks doing either option without the ability to come back is a good idea.

The immediate first thought to cross my mind is what kind of crappy time machine is that anyway? Great Scott! If Doc Emmett Brown can craft a time machine out of a DeLorean in 1985 — “if you’re gonna build a time machine, why not do it with some style?” — you have to do better than a stationary one-way time machine in the modern world of 2021, the advanced, modernistic age of flying cars, hoverboards, self-tying Nikes and Black and Decker rehydrators.

I can see good cases both for and against going back a half-millennium to 1521 or forward a half-millennium to 2521, although the way things are going there might not be much difference in making either choice. Quite frankly, neither 1521 or 2521 are on my Bucket List of time-traveling destinations. I don’t like these choices.

Looking back, MDXXI seemed kinda wild from what I remember in Father Donnelly’s freshman World History class at Marquette back in the day, with 1521 offering up the bloodshed of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the wars of Suleiman the Magnificent, and the Italian “Four Years War,” the stuff of harquebus muskets, lances and Toledo steel swords.

On the other hand, it would be a novelty to step back into a world where people socialize with each other instead of being glued to the screens of their handheld electronic devices, fingers a-flyin’. The year 1521 would be a great opportunity to shoot the breeze and down some beers with excommunicated outlaw cleric Martin Luther during his yearlong hideout at Wartburg Castle, assuming I spoke fluent German beyond singing “Stille Nacht” on Christmas Eve. And with my arcane knowledge of the future, the flashlight and music features on my cell phone, and my strange American speech, manner and dress, I’d either be the life of King Henry VIII’s great hall castle ball or the guest of honor at a good old-fashioned warlock burning, a bewildered Darrin Stephens stand-in in a “Bewitched” episode gone awry.

Looking forward to the 26th Century with a pessimistic glass-half-empty view, the prospect of leaping ahead 500 years gives me pause, given the decade long year of 2020 and all its pervasive wonkiness and wokeness, stepping out into the fifth masked dystopian century of “two weeks to flatten the curve.”

But taking a glass-half-full outlook, I’d have my fingers crossed for an optimistic “Star Trek” future as Star Fleet lays the groundwork for the 2540 commissioning of the latest iteration of the Enterprise. I could seriously get into replicating inch thick charcoal grilled steaks, immersing myself in a virtual reality Nero Wolfe detective mystery on the holodeck, and instantaneously beaming to a Martian vacation at the Hilton Olympus Mons on Elon Musk Boulevard. Hello, universe, here I come.

In some respects, both scenarios have their appeal.

Go back 500 years and I could out-Nostradamus French astrologer and reputed seer Nostradamus and his 1555 book of predictions, “Les Prophéties.” Fast forward 500 years from what animated cartoon brainiac Lisa Simpson has presciently called the current age of “The Dumbening” and I could well be living the storyline of the 2006 sci-fi comedy film “Idiocracy,” arriving to a future so incredibly moronic that I’m easily the most intelligent person alive as the Albert Einstein of 2521.

But on the other hand, I like my indoor plumbing, air conditioning, antibiotics and sliced bread. I also can’t imagine enduring another 500 years of social distancing and the steam punk vibe.

Ultimately, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the space-time continuum. If I can’t come back from time traveling, I’ll stay put where I am, being made, as the Good Book says, “for such a time as this,” such as it is.