“I have no doubt that my story will end in very much the same manner as it began, with a secret. And as I stand at the crossroads, caught at the precise moment where a lifetime of secrets left untold should either be revealed or die forever, I stare at the younger man, eyes full of dreams that have not yet been crushed ‘neath the heel of reality, and find it difficult to believe that I was once him.” — Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys, The Very Fabric of Time Itself
I was riding the ferry today and it was one of those rare occasions when I wasn’t plugged into my iPod. I had just finished listening to an episode of The Afternoon Drama (a daily BBC radio play series) and as I was letting the weight of the story settle in, I overheard a conversation between a couple. They were talking about the five messages they would include in a letter if they were able to have it delivered to their younger selves.
This, of course, got me thinking about my own letter and how difficult a process it would be to write. The younger me, we’ll call him Li’l Rhy for the sake of this post, was a card carrying member of The Bronx Chapter of the International Skeptics Society who wouldn’t have believed 1) the letter came from the future, and more importantly, 2) that his future self had written it.
Also, I’m sure if I flat out told him of the obstacles he would face, that information would be redacted by some faceless wage slave at the Temporal Post Office, so the message would have to be as succinct as possible. And, if I’m honest, I wasn’t in love with the notion of sending five messages because that seemed a bit much to me. No one follows all five pieces of advice they receive. Humans just aren’t built that way. I’d either have to settle on offering Li’l Rhy three pieces of advice, hoping that at least one of them stuck, or offer one simple, yet key, bit of advice with a unifying thread. Most likely I’d go with the second option.
The next problem is offering the exact piece of advice Li’l Rhy would listen to. That’s a toughie, that one. Yup. Yes siree, Bob. Sigh. I guess it would all have to fall under the category of Try Harder, as in:
Love fiercely and try harder not to break hearts. Befriend the friendless and try harder not to burn bridges. Laugh more and try harder not to take life too seriously. Follow your bliss and try harder to stave off the darkness. Turn off the TV and try harder to think deeply. Take your time but try harder to avoid procrastination. Dream bigger and try harder to stop worrying about dreams not coming true. And stay away from Jane Hester. Sure, she’s pretty to look at but she’s nothing but trouble and It. Will. Not. End. Well.
I’m sure that last bit will get redacted, but here’s hoping!
Sally forth and be letter-to-your-younger-self writeful.
©2013 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys
So is that the message you’re sending forward to Old Man Rhy, lazin’ on a porch swing somewhere in the future? (Minus the bit about Jane Hester who is in the past.
Or, is that the message that Old Man Rhy has sent your way, via that couple on the ferry, knowing full well you wouldn’t be plugged into the ipod? If so, are you sure you got the full transcript?
What’s that old saying?? Measure twice, cut once. I think that’s it.
Because the time apple doesn’t fall far from the future tree, Pres Rhy (the current day me) wouldn’t believe and/or heed the message any more than Li’l Rhy. My Skeptics Society card may be a little dusty and dog-eared but I’m still a lifelong member.
The only way I’d be inclined to believe it was if the letter came from Old Janey H. and was accompanied by a photo taken on her and Old Rhy’s wedding day.
Don’t ask me why that would be the proof I needed. Skeptics aren’t always logical when it comes to time travel confirmation.
I find ‘future letters’ to be a fun exercise. (Is fun the right word?) I think I’ve done something along those lines during each new year, but I suppose that is a different kind of reflection.
That being said, ‘try harder’ is solid advice. I don’t think anyone can regret that. I guess it’s about knowing yourself well enough to know what you need to know!
You’ve got me thinking…might have to write something along these lines, as life is currently in upheaval…best time to write. Cheers!
This was my first, and probably last stab at writing a time traveling letter to myself (never say never again, though) and it was fun trying to puzzle out what I would say to a younger me.
“Try harder” has the charm of being vague in its urging. The sort of thing a dad might say in passing with a quick pat on the shoulder, like, “It’s okay, son, try harder next time.” Maybe I would have listened to it, who knows?
You’re right, upheaval tends to bring out the writer in us, so I hope it helps just as I hope you’re able to work things out.
Another great article and I love the quote! Is it from something you are working on or is it in print? I’d really like to read it. The line about the girl was also funny. She must have broken your heart pretty bad. Keep up the great work! Thanks!
The last time The Very Fabric of Time Itself saw the light of day was in the Fall 1989 Second Anniversary issue of Writerarium (a long defunct science fiction ‘zine).
Jane Hester (name changed to protect the wicked) was my junior high school version of Jessica Rabbit. Not only was she drawn that way but she was bad down to her bell bottoms. She wasn’t the biggest heartbreak I ever experienced, but she can proudly stake her claim on being the first.
Thanks for the compliment.
Junior high school??? Come on it couldn’t have been all that tragic!
Are you kidding? It rocked the foundation of the cafeteria and caused a great divide during lunch period for at least a month. Battle lines were drawn, no quarter asked or given… quite frankly, we’re all lucky to have gotten out alive!