Alright, you’ve seen movies so you know the drill. You found the magic lamp. You, for some reason, rubbed it, and now a window to your future self has opened. I’m not a genie, so I don’t grant wishes. I only answer questions. Regulation only permits three questions, so I’d be sure to avoid “yes or no” questions.
Jesus, age was not our friend. And … are you wearing jorts? Ok, anyway, ummmm let’s see. Well, right now, as a college senior, I’m standing at a crossroads, the intersection of infinite realities. I take it you are one of those realities. So I’m standing there, in the metaphorical sense, trying to decide which path to take. How do I decide?
Alright, alright, no warm up questions then, straight into the big ones. Well, the answer to that question is lost somewhere in the unexplored abstractions and intangibles that make up your thoughts. You could try to use logical constructs to find the answer, asking probing questions like, “Will this make me happy?”, “How much money is enough money?” and “Am I going to be content with myself?” But what does it even MEAN to be happy? Your questions beget even more questions that have even less to do with your perceptions 10 or 15 years down the line.
What kind of an answer is that? I mean, you decided on a path. You’ve done this. Do you like where you are in life?
I don’t know, I guess. What does that matter to you? Can YOU even answer that question? Feelings about your life, job, friends—it’s all in a constant flux. Plus, an infinite number of choices exist between you and me. We are different people. I’m just someone with advice, but that doesn’t mean you should take it. You are trying to compare my intangibles with your intangibles, and I don’t even understand my own intangibles. And stop trying to think about it like an end game, as if I’m at the finish line coaching you. I’ve got my own stuff going on. It’s not like you are currently moving up a plateau of curiosity and creativity, and I’m up here on top. I still ask myself what I want; I’m just as restless as you.
So you are saying, I can’t know if any of the potential futures I see for myself are going to make me happy, or even what happiness is. I think I was better off without the lamp. So, what do I do? How do I go forward along whatever path I end up on?
Look, dude, I’m future you, not all-knowing you. Everyone is different. For some people, the destination is important, but for others it is the path itself that matters. Will you benefit more from following the crowd and taking the comfortable path, or from taking a chance on a riskier path, and traveling alone? Let’s be honest, we both know you were pre-med for all of about half a semester. We’ve never been one for making short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits. And that’s fine, who knows which is right? I’d just look for the path laden with a handrail and a complimentary guidebook if I were you, which I was. If you do what you love every step of the way, I feel like you’ll end up somewhere you want to be.
Well sweet, I feel exactly as far from the answers I was trying to find as before we talked. I wish I had just asked some nice, concrete question I could have actually benefitted from knowing. Does someone ever make fetch happen?
No, fetch is just never going to happen.
Travis Smith is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Thursday. You can follow Travis on Twitter @jtsmith317.