Talking to myself

Michael Boylan's picture

Last year I wrote a book that dealt a little with time travel (Time Killer - available now at and one of the things that happens in the book is that the present version of the hero meets up with the past version of himself. This also happened recently on the great new television show (based on a BBC show of the same name) “Life on Mars.” The same type of thing happens in all sorts of programs involving time travel, from “Back to the Future,” to “Quantum Leap” and beyond. It’s pretty trippy stuff, because one often has to wonder what would happen if you, meaning the you of today, met up with the you of some time in your past. What kind of advice would you impart on yourself and how would your life be different afterwards?

It’s an interesting question because who we are today is most likely not the person we thought we would be. If you had told the me that was living a low-rent lifestyle in Athens, Ga. in the mid-1990s that in 2008 I would be entering my 10th year working at a newspaper, living in a split level home in Clayton County, married to a girl I knew in high school and raising two kids, I would have laughed you out the door and proceeded to the nearest bar to have a tall and serious drink.

Ten years ago I wanted to be writing sketch comedy on Saturday Night Live. I wanted to be in a big city like New York and living life to the fullest every minute of every day. At least that’s what I told everyone including myself, but it obviously wasn’t what I really wanted. Some would say it wasn’t in the cards and others would say it wasn’t part of God’s plan. Regardless, I moved back to the area, found my job at the paper, kept learning every day, fell in love on a trip to the big city I am today.

I could be happier, but not by much.
So, what would I say to that impetuous cad living just above squalor in his old college town that wouldn’t drive him down a completely opposite path, thereby eliminating everything I’ve been able to accomplish in the years since I grew up.
Let me try this on for size.

O.K., so I am you - 60 pounds heavier (I was practically emaciated when I left Athens) and 10 years older, but you. I know I look a little soft and suburban for your taste, with your Cobain green cardigan and those jeans that haven’t seen a washing machine in years (seriously, I’m trying to remember doing laundry in college and I can’t), but believe me I am more battle tested and hardened than you can even fathom.

To quote my fellow time travelers, Bill and Ted, you are going to have a most excellent 10 years - as long as you follow your heart. The first few years are going to be really rocky and full of doubt, but that’s just as you get settled in to rejoining society and working when the sun is out (I used to work night shifts at a cable company).

You will be lonely for a little while and you will search all over for the love of your life, you’ll even go on-line and meet a girl in Tennessee, but the one you will choose to be with, and more importantly, the one who will choose you, is someone you already know. In fact, you’ve already kissed her (that will just be said to blow my past me’s mind and have him racking his brain - it will be good for him and keep him out of trouble for one night).

That will be one part of your greatest accomplishment - up to this point anyway. I mean, I’m only 33, so there’s a lot ahead that I don’t know about and it’s not like I’ve been visited by a future version of me. Anyway, I digress. What I mean to say is that your two kids will be what really knocks your socks off and everything you do after they are born will be, in part, because of them.

If you think you aspire to greatness now with these dreams of writing for Saturday Night Live, you have no idea of how much you will yearn and strive for success to provide for your family. You know your parents love you and you’ve seen it from the side of the child, but when you are a parent yourself, you will realize how much every parent must love their children and how much is sacrificed in this world for them. I’m saying this to you now in the hope that you will understand this, but you won’t get it right now. You will someday though and thankfully, lots of other people, just like you, will understand that some day too.

I can see that you are viewing what happens to you as a death of your dreams, but that isn’t it at all. You will dream bigger and better than ever before. You will wake up to the possibilities of the universe and rediscover parts of you that you thought were lost forever. I won’t ruin those surprises, but I can promise you that there is a path.

It’s like those beams that Roland follows in the Dark Tower series and how all the beams are connected to the tower, which I guess is the center of everything. You are following a beam, Michael, and you always have been and you always will be, as long as you stay true to yourself.

And then I would drop a smoke bomb, escape down the stairs of the apartment complex and vanish back to the present. It is a place where I am greeted by my loving wife, who is ensnared by the Charlaine Harris Southern Vampire novels for the second time, my son, who acts like a puppy and licks my hands, and my infant daughter, who resembles Peter Boyle from the back.

I like it here and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Tue, 11/11/2008 - 7:03pm.


But we need to talk a bit about the logic of time travel. Suppose that, tomorrow, you are offered the opportunity to get into the Delorean and travel to your own past. It follows that, as of today your past already includes that encounter with your 2008 counterpart. And so things cannot be "different" as a result, because it is impossible to change the past. God can't even do that, so don't even try. Smiling


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

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