So I was given an an assignment I really didn’t want to do. Write a diary entry from the perspective of your eighteen year old self. I didn’t want to do it for a number of reasons, none of which I care to rehearse here, all of which can be boiled down to, ‘stop taking everything so seriously, George.’
I’ve been thinking a lot about my eighteen-year-old self and where she is now. What happens to our selves as we get older? I mean, in my case, I became incredibly cool and popular, but does that mean my awkward, brash, unloved eighteen-year-old self is gone? Did I eat her? Or did she eat me, and that’s how she got older?
It should be clear already that I don’t have a clue how time works. But if, as the scientists say, all time is happening at the same time, then my eighteen year old self is right now existing just as much as I am. If she is existing now, then do the things I say and write about her affect her subconsciously? Does she have terrible dreams because I keep sending tendrils of story at her? Do I have terrible dreams because she is sitting in another room with a knife? How does it work – are there an infinite number of parallel universes in which every possible version of ourselves exists? That’s what they say, right? Every instant is happening right now, and somehow I am travelling through space, through the membranes between the worlds, and that’s what I’m calling time? If we could stop feeling time, would we be more than we are? Would we be all our selves at once? Or would the universe cease to exist?
Here’s a big question with no useful answer. What’s the difference between time and narrative? Because the way I see it, the only difference between me and my eighteen-year-old self is the story I am telling myself about myself and the world. (And, obviously, that I grew into my good looks.)
Time probably doesn’t work like this at all and I’m an idiot. Although I expect that the people who laugh at me for my unscientific and bizarre notions about time also don’t know anything about how it works or indeed what it is. Even scientists have to admit that time is made of language, and so it is a writer’s prerogative to wonder just how the hell it works, even if she makes herself look silly in the process.
2 Replies to “time will tell”
I thought for along time about the concept of travelling sideways through time. I even wrote a stupid song about it once. So if all time was happening at once, you could step sideways to avoid the ugly/boring bits that you’d rather not face, and then step back again. Not very scientific either, but I like it, and it’s got me through many a trying day at work.
Yes! I think the problem is that there may be no ‘I’ in the sense that I am using it. I have this idea that the way in which we live, work, think about ourselves is utterly and profoundly disconnected from the way things actually are, and whenever we get a glimpse of that, through quantum physics or Buddhist philosophy or whatever, it’s too bizarre to really take seriously. We can only apply the concepts in completely unscientific ways in order to get through rubbish days at work.