I worry about a lot of things.
For example, sometimes I wonder if my future self is sabotaging my present self, just to get ahead. Maybe he bargains with the universe, saying things like “Universe, if you let me afford this new car, I’ll agree to let my 30-year-old self experience two weeks of bad luck.” I mean, what would he care? He’s the one in the future cruising around in a new car, and meanwhile I’m stuck in the present day slogging through two weeks of bad luck.
It would explain a lot of the bad things that have happened in my life, like layoffs, breakups, receiving Sprite at a restaurant when I clearly ordered 7UP. Maybe my future self is living the life I only dream about, and he’s doing it by wishing all of this terrible luck on me. I wouldn’t be surprised. It sounds like something I’d do.
I mean, it sounds like something I might do someday — after living through a lifetime of bad luck. Right now, though, it’s not my style.
For example, I couldn’t imagine wishing a week of pimples and an algebra test on my 17-year-old self in exchange for a Saturday-night date in the present day. I’m not that cold-hearted or self-serving.
Yet. Yet. But maybe I’ll change in the future. It’s a frightening thought.
This is one of the reasons I’m not looking forward to getting old. (Besides the overgrown ear hair.) If the universe offered me a deal, who’s to say I wouldn’t accept? I could see myself becoming corrupted. Scruples are easy to lose when you’ve led a miserable life plagued by a series of unlucky events. Maybe I’ll get so cynical and burned-out that I’ll decide to start sabotaging my younger self, in exchange for the good life. (Which is sort of a self-perpetuating cycle, I know, but then that leads us to a discussion of the space-time continuum and flux capacitors, and I’m not here to argue Back to the Future subplots.)
So maybe everything bad that happens to me, I’m doing to myself. Maybe there’s an ancient, crusty curmudgeon out there in the far reaches of time (with overgrown ear hair), so repulsed by his youthful counterpart that he’s wishing a lifetime of bad luck on him in exchange for fortune and pleasure.
It’s something to worry about. Because you can’t control how you act in the future. You can only control how you act now. (And judging by my list of failed New Year’s resolutions, even that point’s in question.)
If I want to end this madness, I must work to stop myself from becoming that guy.
So Universe, I ask you: If you give me the strength and courage to change, I’ll let my 22-year-old self experience two flat tires, a job prospect that doesn’t pan out, and a failed relationship.