by Hanz Daniel Cortez
I wonder what it’s like to meet two versions of myself: one from the past, and one from the future.
I imagine we’d sit in the middle of an empty park, sitting around in a circle. In between us is a wooden table, small but sturdy. At first I thought that I would be the first to start a conversation, given my absolute hatred of awkward silences. But then I thought it would be Future Me, who would be so enthusiastic to tell us the adventures he’s gone to since my present became his past. But in all likelihood, it would probably be Past Me, the naive, insecure boy who couldn’t wait to grow up.
To Past Me, Future Me and I would have been evidence that he would live long; an assumption that he always had. Of the three of us, I bet he’s the most enthusiastic one. Although he would probably ask us childish questions. Do I get a girlfriend? Do I graduate with honors? Do I become rich? While I have no idea how Future Me would answer these trivial questions, I’d probably have an idea how to answer him. I do understand why he’d lead with those questions, though. Past Me is a troubled kid who wishes for genuine connections. He thinks that a girlfriend, or honors, or money would make him finally worthy of a meaningful relationship. This is a kid who lives in his fantasy world, dreaming of a day when people would finally appreciate him; something he can’t do for himself. Nevertheless, after a lengthy explanation of what his life would be like in a few years, I would say that I am proud of him. Without him, I would never be who I am today. Oh, and I’m also into K-Pop now, to which Past Me would probably groan in shame.
Past Me gives me a profound appreciation for the things I managed to achieve that he was not able to during his time as the Present Me. I don’t know from which part of my past he is from, but ever since Past Me, I have found the meaningful connection he so yearns for in renewed family relationships, genuine friends, and a loving girlfriend. I will neither graduate in time nor with honors, but I have found purpose and an ambition, a goal to strive towards. As
for money, well, Past Me is definitely much richer than me. Online shopping became the end of my propensity to save up money. I’d debate internally if I should tell him of all my mistakes and failures, the people I’ve lost because of my inability to grasp my own self-worth, the people I’ve lost due to illnesses or accidents. If Past Me learned of all of this, would he still be in a rush to grow up? Would he have made better choices than I did? Would his choices have lead to a better Present Me? Would his choices create a butterfly effect that leads to the world avoiding the pandemic? I shudder to think that in that “better” life, I would not have met the people I know now. I can’t imagine my life being as happy as it is now without them, but then again, if I never met them, I would be none the wiser to what I’m missing out on. My past has become, well, the past. Delving into these what-ifs will not propel me towards the future.
This is how Future Me probably thinks. One look at Present Me and Past Me and he will only see a history of his greatest highs and lows. He would probably still think of us as both naive and lost. I know I am. Future Me is the most mysterious of the three of us, assuming that he is plucked from the last leg of my life. I would jump at the opportunity to interrogate him of what my life has become in the future, much to his annoyance (probably). What has become of my relationships? Have I achieved the goals I set for myself? What are the consequences of the decisions I’ve made in the long run? Have I found the elusive peace I’ve long yearned for? Does he look at us with utter contempt or with thankful reverence, just as I do with Past Me? Will the growth I’ve managed to make be undone, or reinforced?
As I ask these questions now, I stop and wonder if it’s even worth asking. Will I like the answers he’ll give? What do I do if the future isn’t as bright as I’d hoped? I like to think that the joy of life comes with not knowing what lies ahead, the thrill of the unknown. At the same time, it is the source of anxiety, fear, and disillusionment. The human condition has always been a walking contradiction, a never-ending enigma, and my life is no different.
I wonder how such a meeting with my past and my future selves will end. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see when I update this piece in the context of the future.