Looking Back On The Future

Contrary to popular opinion Time Travel does exist. Yes, moving between disparate time lines is a thing. Not everyone has the capacity to do so, but everyone at some point in their life, is presented with the opportunity.

You see, we are all creatures of time, with all of its inherent constraints. Time is not static, it always moves with its own indefinable current. We (humans) have done our level best to stem or control the tide of time through our own ineffective devices and schemes. As we chronologically shift through time, we tend to grasp for transient things deemed valuable or necessary; like remaining physically youthful in appearance beyond the naturally defined boundaries of our age or recapturing the essence of childhood and its inherent lack of care or responsibilities.

This is not to say taking the best physical care of oneself or being less cynical, worried or stressed as an adult is a bad thing, but in our misguided attempts at bringing balance into our lives, we become prone to the excesses and obsessions dictated by our present culture and environment.

Forty-one years ago, I arrived in Canada as an immigrant from the Caribbean, just one month before my 17th birthday. It didn’t take long to begin my assimilation into this new culture. As it has ever been through the course of time, children have fought on emotional and hormonal battlefields to advance through the territory of adolescence into adulthood. Some are more adept at taking ground than others. Some, whether due to lack of opportunity or by choice, unfortunately fall as casualties of addiction; rejection; abuse; depression, or worse.

I count myself one of the fortunate ones from that era. Not so much due to any adeptness or aptitude on my part, but I do (now) see the opportunities, favour and blessing I have been accorded throughout the intervening years. Yes, I made mistakes and some of the choices I made resulted in consequences which had to be accounted for. Even during those uncomfortable moments, oblivious to me at the time, the foundations of practical life lessons were being driven deep. I would find myself in later years drawing from those painfully dug wells of resource, in order to facilitate or even function when life presented seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Travelling back in my time stream, I recall being more motivated by style than by substance. So long as I looked good (leather ties and bold sweaters were a thing back then), had food in my stomach, a roof over my head and a cadre of friends to hang out with, then all was well. Sure, I still had to deal with inconvenient irritants like high school,  or *cough* being caught red-handed by my parents while attempting to drive their car without first acquiring my driver’s licence. But vehicular truancy notwithstanding, life as I saw it was good. There does come a point in time however, when one needs to take stock of what is important. We are taught (usually early) in life to plan for the future, but my then hormone-infused brain of 17 years only envisioned the boundaries of my future on week-ends and holidays.

As I look back over the preceding 40 years, I imagine a time portal where I step through to the exact date I arrived in Canada. My initial thought as I confront my younger self, is to slap him upside the head….several times.....hard! But the voice in the head of my older self restrains my hand. It recalls not only the heartache, loss, regret, confusion and pain of the past 40 years, but the hopes, dreams, joys, and accomplishments that were experienced as well.

Now I am momentarily conflicted. Do I try to get my younger self to see and take the paths (I thought) I should have taken? Or do I let him forge his own? I try to convince myself my desire is to help him, but in actual fact my motive is selfish. I am vicariously looking for a 40-year do-over. Yes, there are many things I would do differently if given the chance to relive my life, but I slowly come to realize I would be robbing my younger self of acquiring knowledge and experience, thereby preventing him from gaining wisdom and a sense of his own identity.

As I gently lay a hand on his shoulder and look into young eyes not yet burdened by reading glasses, I suddenly get the sense I am seeing myself for the first time, as I look back on my future.