Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Meeting the Self

Long day.  4,000+ words in the bank and I feel like I'm moving forward again.

I want to ask a general question of the readership as regards progress.  It's a question I've been asking myself off and on since yesterday.  It goes like this.

Imagine that, for whatever reason, the person that was you 30 years ago could be brought forward in time just long enough for you to show him a one-day tour of your life.  If you're too young for this to work, feel free to shorten the time; if 30 years seems too recent, lengthen it.  Try to imagine a 'you' that was conscious of his or her world but who existed before any of the stuff you have, or the things you've done, came about.

How would that go?

I'm living in some tough circumstances right now - but considering the circumstances the 22-year-old me lived in, and his general communistic approach to life [art before all], I'm fairly sure he'd get over the shock that I was still treading water within the first few hours.  I know what he would have appreciated.

I would have done for him what I do for everyone: show him the world.  Show him the blog, show him the wiki, show him the books . . . but before I could do any of that, I'd have to wrestle him away from the internet.  Those would be a good five or six hours of me showing him what was happening, what the world had become, the shocks, the surprises, the changes that he couldn't predict.  We'd laugh over most of it; we'd get into a fight here and there about realism versus wants, like any tired old man explaining life to an angry young man . . . but I've been him once and I know how I'd calm him.  I'd lie.  I've only got one day.  I don't have time to explain fully how I've come to think as I do now.

We'd stop and have dinner.  I didn't know how to cook when I was 22 so I'd pull all the stops out for him, let him enjoy some of that.  We'd talk politics after that for an hour . . . and then I'd bring around the subject to the book I'm writing now and we'd talk about that, in depth.  He'd want to talk about the book he's writing . . . but that would just lead to me explaining reasons why his book didn't work.  Mostly, because he has a lot of reading to do.

Some might wonder why we wouldn't go anywhere.  Truth is, we'd go everywhere - far more places on the internet than we could see riding around this very middle class, very dull city I live in.  The bars look the same, though some old ones have closed.  The music isn't all that different. The streets haven't changed.  The mountains west of the city are the same mountains.  He's seen those things.  All the interesting stuff is right here on this computer.  In fact, the computer itself would set him on fire.

How would you manage it?


Fuzzy Skinner said...

You make a very good point; as much as we tend to romanticize the idea of driving all over and seeing what buildings and landmarks have changed, the Internet has a far broader scope of information available for people who know what they're looking for. True, it might be sobering to see that the local Carmike Cinema got bulldozed in favor of an apartment complex... but it might be a little more important to realize that the Berlin Wall fell, or that real estate isn't a completely invulnerable investment.

Mark Van Vlack said...

I'm slightly younger than you at 41, so I will have to adjust the years to around 20.
We would talk. Do many of the things you mentioned.
I think my 20 year old self would look at my 41 year old self and tell me that I sold out. You (I) Wear a tie to work, got fat, gave up.
He would be obnoxious and incorrigible. He would blissfully have no idea the amount of water under the bridge he had yet to see.
I don't think I would like my 20 year old self very much, but I would admire his spirit.
Hopefully he could stay long enough to play a game of D&D over roll 20 with me. That would completely blow his mind.

Ozymandias said...

I'm 34. My prior self would have been 10-15 years ago. Yeah, I was a prick back then. Given one day, I doubt I would even waste my time trying to tell myself anything. It's probably a testament to how much I've learned in the past decade that I can recognize that now.

Here's what I would do: I'd take myself to a farm, like, really early in the morning and we'd work through the day. We'd do all the chores that I did (and didn't do) when I was a kid. During our water breaks or whenever we had a chance to pause, I'd ask a few questions about something mundane, like how you know the soil is ready for planting or how to calm a nervous horse; or I'd ask about something esoteric like what it means to be a good person. I'd make sure to smoke the shit out of my younger self, just to show how out of shape and worthless I was. I'd ask about our future, what we want out of life, how we want to go about getting it. I'd ask about the books we want to write but I wouldn't let myself prattle on about characters or setting; I'd keep the questions extremely specific or extremely vague. At the end of the day, we'd cook dinner together and share a whiskey. I wouldn't say anything about the choices I'd made except to emphasize two points: 1) stop worrying about meeting the right person; let God sort it out. 2) Get off your ass and produce something; get your head out of the clouds and make something with your life.

My younger self would have a lot to say, to be sure, and most of it would be utter dribble but only because it wouldn't have the advantages gained from natural aging. If I asked the right question, though, my older self would answer: if there's anything I would change about my life, it's this: take up running. Every day, go for a run, even if it's only a half-mile. Just run until your body is sore, let it rest, and try again the next day. It's hard work but it gets better, and it'll make you a better person.

But that's only if my younger self asked the right question...

James said...

I think if I met the 15 year old version of me for a day, he'd be amazed by how far computers, the internet and phones have come (I am 30 now, so 15 years ago we had all these things, but they were still emerging). We'd play a video game, but he'd probably beat me. My reflexes are worse then they were back then. Neither of us would go anywhere; I'd introduce him to gin and chat.

He'd ask me how I wasted so much potential; I'd laugh and tell him his biggest shortcomings are arrogance and the refusal to think further ahead then the present. He'd ignore me, sure that he could out-think any potential obstacles. I'd recommend spending more time on how money works and learning computer programming.

I wouldn't want to tell him too much, because life is about figuring things out for yourself. And he may never want to leave wikipedia anyway.