Monday, November 14, 2016

A Game

While we're waiting for me to get myself together after much too much fun over the weekend, let's play a game.

Fundamentally, it is a role-playing game, but one that is personal to each of us.  It begins with a choice, where both options are a flight of imagination, quite impossible, but both are full of possibilities.

Let us say that I'm able to alter your reality in one of two ways.

In the first option, you would be able to return to your 12-year-old self, at the time, the place, the world you knew back then, without any changes save one: you will retain all the knowledge and experience you have right now.  Like you never could the first time around, you could play the system; assuming you could find a way to lay bets, and do so with the memory you have right now (no making lists of winners in advance, I'm going to send you off in the next three minutes), you can make a ton of money, you can decide to change things and do things differently than you did the first time.

The upside is that, of course, everything will be familiar.  For some, perhaps their family life at 12 isn't something they'd want to return to, but for many it would be an opportunity to see relatives and friends again, to return to the comfort of a mother and father who took care of you, to see a world that is now long past or forgotten ~ particularly for those of us for whom 12 was a long, long time ago.

There are a couple of downsides.  Forget new music, movies or television for awhile; and if you're going far enough back, forget the internet and easy access to media.  To you, everything will be old. There won't be anything new for a long time, unless you invent it . . . not until you catch up to today.

As well, it will be hard to get the right timing on meeting those friends you knew after 12; hard to make your marriage happen again, if you're happily married right now . . . and forget your children.  Even if you knew the day your son or daughter was conceived, even if you actually succeeded in conceiving a child on that day, it wouldn't be the son or daughter you know now.  It would be someone similar, someone that looked much like the child you had, that behaved much like the child you had, but the child you have right now would be lost forever.  There's nothing you could do to change that.

In the second option, I make you 12 right now.  It's today and you're still the same person you were, but you're in a 12-year-old body.  Perhaps you'll be able to identify a surrogate mother or father in the next few minutes, explaining the situation for them, or perhaps you'd like to take your chances on your own.  You won't be able to play the system like in the first option, because the future will still be unknown ~ but at least you'll have the potential to begin again and do it better than you did the first time around, plus you'll have all these extra years of life.  That is, assuming you're not hit by a bus.

Which would you pick?  And once you picked an option, what would you do with it?  Be brave, imagine this is a role-playing game and you've just been transformed or reanimated, whatever you want to call it, and the DM is asking, "What do you want to do?"

Tell me in the comments.


  1. Neither. I'll stay as I am. I'm not going through teenage hormonal rages again. Neither would I relish the loss of adult independence (or what I conceive of as independence).

  2. A fair decision, Nine-toes.

    I, however, am prepared to undergo six years of hormones for another 40-70 years of life. Besides, I always thought that hormone shit was overblown by parents who just didn't want to deal with issues fairly and bluntly raised by their offspring.

    Seems to me my actions at the time were thoroughly understandable.

  3. I'm not old by any stretch, but I'd go back in time easily.

    I grew up pretty embarrassingly poor for a first-worlder, and all the garbage that comes with that led me to making some poor decisions. I've just started my life by any reasonable guess, but there are already a lot of doors that are closed to me.

    I've got a wife and kids that I adore beyond any reasonable measure. I'd still go back in a heartbeat for a chance to do it all again. Maybe it's not fair of me to post, but I play this game just about every day thinking I could have done it all better -if I had just known-.

    C'est la vie, and there is only the one.

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  5. This is going to sound sappy in a way that might make people cringe but here it goes.
    I could not go back. I can not afford to lose the chance of meeting my present wife. None of the other possibilities outweigh that single risk.

    Sappy but true.

  6. Second option, of course. Never the first. I already lived that life. Suboptimal as it was (and it was really bad at some things, and I lost very many opportunities) I'd never go back. It took very long to build this life of now. Of course this is assuming I keep current relationships and (if I can make suitable arrangements with adult people of my trust) my current possessions. Starting up now in the streets would very much NOT be preferable. I can adjust almost all parts of my life to work with a 12 years old body, and even with a 12-years-old legal record, if I keep current people around.

    Assuming all of this, first point of order: Train. A 12 years old brain. Wow. Never watch TV unless it's social bonding time. Never to bore. Never to spill those precious, high-performing minutes. Train, read, learn at maximum speed. Get high-demand career, retire even earlier than expected. Second point: Influence. Meet people (same age, no use in trying to cultivate too many adults too soon). Become popular, up to a point. Train oratory, command influence by any means necessary. Acquire a following. Start influencing more. If politics is needed, keep it at the minimum required level. This takes until adult age, say 25 years. Third point: Create a bubble of experimentation. It may be (ideally) land, but a big enterprise may serve. Run social experiments, as much as able. Obtain more control over human psyche. Transcend... er... help people become less monkey-like, either though rational psychology or transhumanism. Improve world through this. Rinse. Repeat while strength/funds/lifespan holds. Die in a better place (unless I find another freaky magician on my way that manages to send me *back again* to a young body, then rinse and repeat ad infinitum).

    So, in a nutshell, if I'm reborn I want to be Elon Musk, with a sprinkle of Eliezer Yudkowsky. This says a lot about what happens in my head these days.

  7. I would go back.
    I walk up to her, the unrequited love. I introduce myself, actually being able to speak in her presence. I joke with her about Mr. Stone’s History class. She smiles. I look in her eyes for the first time. My heart soars.
    I’m confused by my body, and my mind wants to go places that only my meager wisdom wants to prevent. I keep telling myself that there is nothing creepy about this, I am 12 again. I am 12 again. I am 12 again. Even if things don’t work out with her, I will not live out my life with regret, at least not the ones I am shackled by. I learned so little the first time through, in the protected bubble that was my youth. This time I will step up and embrace my chance.

  8. Myself, I would start again at 12, right now. I don't imagine I'd have to go to school; there'd be no record of my being born in 2004. There would be some tremendous difficulties with income - but I would continue to run the blog and write. I'd have to think of something entrepreneurial to do - go door to door shoveling sidewalks, then landscaping in the spring, things I can't do now because I'm not physically up to it. There would likely be other things I could sell. I might try acting or busking; those are things that would seem amazing coming from a 12-year-old, and I feel I could be channel my experience into a performance that would startle.

    I'd keep writing this blog - and I'd lie to all of you, let you think I was still an adult. It would get tricky balancing my real life with my online life; but which of you, I ask, would believe that I was suddenly 12 now?

    And I would keep playing D&D. If I went back in time, I'd lose all the work I've accumulated (though of course, I could just start it all again from scratch, saving a lot of time by not taking blind alleys).

    (cont . . .)

  9. It makes sense to want to go back and fix things, do it right. I can understand that pull. I missed a lot of opportunities to write stuff that would have pleased my teachers, would have gotten me scholarships and appeased my parents. I could apply the work-ethic I have now to the self back then who was too interested in research and creation to slave away my life for other people. I've learned how to do that now, how to create in my mine AND work at the same time; so there's no doubt that a second time around, I would be much more successful.

    But it wouldn't be worth it. All the friends I'd lose, all the moments in time that I remember the first time around . . . and just imagine not being able to make references to thousands of things that we take for granted. Think of how often we refer to a film or music, to the internet, to social changes and ideas. Granted, you wouldn't worry about a massive war or something that would end your world, but not being able to refer to 9/11 until it happened? Knowing it was going to happen and that there was almost nothing that could be done? Things like that could drive us mad.

    Frankly, I just want the extra time, no matter what I've done with the time I've had or what I might have to struggle with to have more. Going back to 16 would be easier than 12, as I could just start working as a cook ~ and wouldn't that be interesting, as this 16-year-old starts cooking and managing kitchen details like an old man.

    The truth is that we're always in a place where we can "do it again" ~ because we can just start doing it right now. That was the same message in the film Groundhog Day. Every day is the same; the trick is to invest, to lean in, to make the changes we feel we should have made 20 years ago RIGHT NOW.

    No more excuses.

  10. Stay in there here and now, the access EVERYTHING now is mind blowing.i have found my vocation (one of) and trying to get into it in 80s rather than now would be painful. I already am doing now what i should have/could have started in my youth... A 12yo body now, well wife and kids would make this rather strange... but the opportunity for learning languages, physical training (say parkour), access to online knowlege, these didnt exist before for me and the spirit of this 46yo would want to totally kick ass.

  11. I'd go back in time. And yeah, I would 100% do the classic stuff (make lots of money betting on sports teams and investing in companies I know will blow up). Because the point of me going back would not be to lead the same life, but to see what life would be like if I were rich.

    Does it mean that all of my relationships past high school probably don't occur, and now I would be with brand new people in brand new settings? Yes, but that is kind of the point.

    Plus, I'd get to spend some more time with the now-deceased, and that sounds pretty good.

  12. Being 17, I do not think this question is so compelling for me. I am still very much the same person in many ways (and am graduating now from the high school I was starting then), and don't feel like those five years of life would change much either way. Which is a shame - I do so love this kind of hypothetical question.
    (That said, I do not think that there would be little new in the world. Maybe it is youth speaking again, but it seems like there is an awful lot of stuff out there - plenty of room to read everything you didn't get to the first time round)


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