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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Future Past

I've been asked a few very interesting time-travel questions lately.

The first one I was asked was, given the choice, would I rather (a) go back to 1999 and be 21 again, with full possession of the knowledge and experience I've acquired in the intervening years or (b) be 21 now in this day and age.

Tough question.

When I was 21, I thought I was mature for my age.  In reality, not so much.  I worked full-time and I lived at home, but my education had stalled and I partied way, way too much.  I had a ton of tools to make adulthood so much easier and I squandered most of them.  I had a great, great time and I don't regret any of it, but I could have made my life so much easier. That knowledge is irreplaceable, the experience is completely invaluable.

But being 21 now would be fun.

Being 21 now would mean that I would be more proficient in the technology of today, that many adults sometimes struggle with.  I would be able to enjoy the music of today the way young people do, instead of being this old and crotchety guy who rails on and on about how the music today is silly.  I would be able to have access to an amazing group of people, a generation or two behind me, who have grown up in the world that I have inherited and such.

I think I'd rather go back.

Way back in 1999, I did and saw some amazing things.  They may not have been extraordinary, but they were definitely life defining.   It would be amazing to see all the people I had in my life back then, meet some of them again for the first time.  And going back would allow me to correct the mistakes I made, like being smarter about money and school, or inventing Facebook.  It would be great to go back armed with the knowledge of who and what would be a waste of my time.  I wonder if I'm alone in this thought.

The second question was What would your 17 year-old self think of you now?

I'd like to think that me from half a lifetime ago would be amazed at what he would become.  But I'm probably wrong; my 17 year-old self had lots of ideas that were simply different from the way the world works.  I expected to be successful at 17, not quite realizing the hard work that goes with it.  I thought I'd be working for the New York Daily News, not even close to realizing that the print newspaper industry was going to be circling the drain at this point.  At 17, I expected to be married by 34.  All I can say to that is "oops, sorry dude."

Anyway, I ask these questions of all of you.  Please, sound off in the comments section. Would you choose to be (legal drinking age) now for the first time or back when you originally were knowing what you know now?  And what would the self that's half your age think of you now?

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