From Back to the Future to The Time Traveler’s Wife, traveling through time is often an intriguing prospect for writers and movie makers. Even song writers wax poetic about what they would tell their younger teenage selves. It’s kind of a cool concept, but have you ever tried it?
Alas, we can only live forward. We cannot prevent our past mistakes or give self-confidence before it is earned. Still, there is something to be said for the power of traveling in your mind. You might even change your future.
Picture yourself and your life 20 years down the road. What successes mean the most to you? What are your biggest concerns or regrets? Visualize your marriage and your spouse, your children, how you spend your day. Try to be as detailed as you can be.
Now imagine you are looking back at yourself, today, in the room where you are right now. What do you think of the younger (present) self as you look back with the wisdom of years? What do you think of how you are spending your time, your money, your energy, your passion? Are there thoughts or shreds of wisdom you would try to convey? Are the problems you are facing today meaningful 20 years later? If so, seek advice from wise friends or counselors. If you’re focused on inconsequential things, reassess your priorities—not just what you say is most important, but how you are showing its importance. Are you working toward happiness or lasting joy?
One thing is likely, that you will as your older self lament the quick passage of time and wish you had more time to make everything “right.” Take the time today to love, forgive, ask forgiveness, share, enjoy, and cherish your loved ones. Once the day is over, and 2009 is over, you don’t get another shot.
Are you investing time and energy into the relationships that will matter most 20 years down the road? Are you on the verge of making a serious misstep? Will you regret never following your dreams and true calling, only to suck the life out of your children as you try to live through their achievements?
I came across the perfect quote recently by a current author that neatly summarizes my point. It must have been floating in my subconscious, because I only thought of it after writing this post. As a writer who spends so much time revising, it is a thoughtful reminder that we don’t have that luxury in real life.
“There are no perfect words, perfect writers, or perfect people. But life is not a first draft – we don’t get to rewrite this script. Figure out in advance how you want to wrap it up and plan accordingly.” —Karen Spears Zacharias