It occurs to me every so often – in times of quiet contemplation and deep introspection – that I am not currently where I’d ever imagined myself to be… in my life. Think about that (as it relates to you) for a second…
If your 5-year-old self saw you right now, what would he/she think? Back then, I was still two years away from “getting saved” (as we Christians back then were wont to say), and yet I just knew that I was going to end up a Missionary Doctor. The purest, most noble of light can be seen in a church kid that has been given the proper role models to look up to. More than likely, I’d seen one of the many videos or presentations from missionaries on discipleship that came through the church, who would often remark that in their particular section of “deepest, darkest Africa” (a common missionary destination in the early 80s) that doctors were rare and a blessing. In my little 5-year-old brain, I figured that I was likely talented enough to be both missionary and doctor, and thus the vocation of “Missionary Doctor” was born (in my mind). I would be both a righteous herald of the gospel and the closest thing to a healer that I knew of – I would save men’s souls, and then their lives.
Of course, my Mom thought it was cute, and it became a talking point among her brood of friends. Probably the only things I remember about being that young are because of the things others remember and/or talked about. Either that, or because they were stories that I myself liked telling (like the one with me and a girl named Marceline in first grade, where I kissed her on the cheek nine times before she relinquished the swing I wanted to play on). All the same, I’m sure my 5-year-old self would be both disappointed in me and perhaps a bit scared of me… as I’m quite large and intimidating these days.
What would your senior-in-high-school self think of you (for most of us, age 17-18)? Back then was an unsure time for me (and, I’m guessing, for most kids that age). Although I was still into intramural sports (for some crazy reason), I was just starting to enjoy acting as well. I often think that if I had caught that bug just a liiiiiiittle earlier then I would have chosen an acting college over a Christian one, and would have come out a little more prepared to do what I loved doing – rather than wasting my money on a preaching future that was not fated to happen. Although I’ve always been tall and attractive, I didn’t really start putting on any muscular weight until after high school, so combine that with the type of Baptist upbringing that governs your life to the point of social paralysis and you’ll realize why I wasn’t particularly popular in public high school. If my senior self saw me, he’d probably be stoked that I could have his back in any brawls or what-not, but likely would take issue with my mid-life paunch. I’d have to agree with him on that.
All the same, I have to wonder if I were able to time-travel back to the past for a day (possibly aborting my present life)… would my past self actually listen to me when I warned him of future wars, a divorce, lifestyle quagmires and gave him career/stock advice, or would he continue blindly on – making the same mistakes and choices that led me to where I am now? I have to assume that I would have changed some things, but who knows? A future-self version of you deigning to pay you a visit is a portent not to be easily ignored.
Most important of all, probably – what would my post-divorce, 30-something self think of me? I have to assume that I’d be disappointed in myself at not having lost much of my marriage weight, and for not having some kind of book published. “You couldn’t even throw a children’s book out there?!?” I’d incredulously ask myself. “No, past me, sorry. But I have almost conquered China in ROTK XI,” I’d answer. “Oh, shit! They made an eleventh one??” Past me would be flabbergasted, and then we’d probably geek out for a while.
Still, he’d probably be impressed that I’m living in New York City (For those of you from NYC, please realize that even getting here from another part of the country is considered an accomplishment.) and that I own (even if I don’t use) three different computers. Granted, had I known then what I know now, I’d have probably advised him to go directly here without stopping for an AFA in Baltimore, but it was an interesting time in my life, so who knows?
All in all, what I was thinking this morning is that we never really end up where we plan to be in life… except for those of us who work every day (and very hard) at realizing specific goals. I’m still mulling over whether the point is to enjoy the ride, or to buckle down and get some decent goals to work toward. Considering I’m not a car salesman, I should probably do the latter. Now if I can only figure out how…