What’s Your Replay?

This blog entry calls for a replay of this photo of my boyhood self.

I just finished the first book in a long time that I simply could not put down: Replay, by Ken Grimwood. Seriously, I’ve stayed up way too late the last few nights reading this book, and I just finished it.

I’ll tell you what happens in the first 30 pages of the book so this blog entry will make sense: On October 18, 1988, 40-something Jeff Winston dies. Seconds later, his consciousness transfers to his 19-year-old body decades in the past. He gathers his bearings, realizes what happened, and proceeds to relive his life the way he wishes he had…at least, he tries.

Then October 18, 1988 rolls around, and he dies again. And again his consciousness (which has now been “alive” for over 60 years) tranfers back about two decades.

That’s all in the first 30 pages of the book. You’ll have to read what happens next, and I highly recommend that you do.

The book has spurned a number of thoughts, and I’m sure it’ll churn up more, but right now I’m thinking about the most obvious question: If my conscious jumped back 20 years to my 10-year-old self, what would I do with all that accumulated information about the world and the people close to me?

It’s a huge question, one that the book answers really, really well. And I’ve actually discussed it on the blog in regards to three things I’d do differently if I could redo my college years. But if I were 10 years old again, with everything I know now? That puts me back in elementary school.

The thing is, I don’t think you can really change who you are. I look back and I think, oh, I’d use my 30-year-old brain to be a much more confident, funny, outgoing, adventurous 10-year-old. But it doesn’t work that way. I’d still be too shy to talk to the pretty girl, too uncool to hang with the popular kids, and too content reading a good book than to fill my evenings with extracurriculars.

I guess it’s just a quiet reminder (and an affirmation to all of those personality tests) that we are who we are. We can push ourselves and stretch our limits and learn from our successes and mistakes, but at the end of the day, there’s still a hearty chunk of your 10-year-old self occupying your old man body and mind.

What would you change if you replayed your life?

16 thoughts on “What’s Your Replay?”

  1. Wow, you just brought back some seriously old memories for me! My dad had an old, worn copy of this book when I was growing up–I can still picture the cover in my mind I know he gave it to my brother to read when my brother was a junior or senior in high school, and he loved it as well. I can remember a few discussions and debates they had about it! I picked it up once or twice, but at the time I was too young for both the content and to really appreciate the message. May have to revisit this one…

    (Ha–if you click on Jamey’s link to the Amazon page there are some photos in the customer imagesof the edition my dad owned. It’s the black cover with “Replay” typed over and over. It’s really strange to see that once-familiar cover again all these years later!)

    • Missed a period at the end of this sentence: I can still picture the cover in my mind. You really need an edit function on these comments Jamey! 🙂

    • The amazing thing is, the book isn’t dated at all. The author constantly moves the story forward, only include content that adds to the plot or characters. It’s such a good read.

  2. Ok, so, that picture. Just…wow. Turtleneck under a button-down shirt. Really?

    Here’s what I would do differently:

    1. I would major in something else in college.
    2. I would not have wasted my time on stupid boys.
    3. I would make more of an effort to suck up to important people. I feel like my “I follow no rules but my own, I’m going to get ahead because of my own merit” attitude has set me back.
    4. I would not have gotten hit by that car, as cool of a story as that is.

    • Enelia–If you watch The Big Bang Theory, you’ll find that turtlenecks under button-down shirts are actually quite popular among some TV scientists.

      Very interesting #3. I think I wrote something similar in my college post. I was overly concerned with NOT sucking up to professors, while in reality I could have been forging some invaluable relationships by seeing them during office hours.

      Most chronologists would say that even if you went back in time and told yourself to watch out for the car that hit you, it would be too big of a disruption for the universe to handle, and you would either (a) end the world or (b) promptly get hit by another car.

      • OK, so I don’t think I would ever jump in front of traffic like that again. And since this is my replay, I know better!

        If I get hit by a car though, the only way I could see myself would be if:

        1. The driver was being completely negligent (e.g. ran a red light, did not yield to me at crosswalk, thought I was playing Frogger, etc.)

        2. I am injured to the point where I am seriously kept from doing work. I would maybe try to get compensation for time off work, or something like that.

        I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of lawyers salivating at this what-if, so assuming that they want me to get extravagant with my lawsuit. I might consider going all out and using the money to fund some causes that I care about. Oh, and starting an animal shelter.

  3. That makes me wonder: If you can’t change who you fundamentally are, can you really change the course of your life?

    I’m trying to think of choices that would still be true to self but that could actually have shifted the trajectory of my life, and there are very few. (It’s actually the things I’ve done that were uncharacteristic of me that I regret most.)

    So maybe here’s what I’d do differently:
    1. I would have sought out even more hugs from my mom at every chance I got.
    2. I would have stayed home and read a book instead of going to the park on August 28th, 2001.
    3. I would have learned to juggle, played the tuba instead of the flute, practiced eating with chopsticks, and worn thicker socks on camping trips.

    Would any of those cause too big a rift in the chronologists’ space/time universe?

    • What in the world happened at the park on August 28, 2001! I’ve never seen so much mystery in one sentence!

      Also, Enelia, how did you get hit by a car?!

      • So I was ten. I was staying after school and decided to go get some french fries from the deli across the street with my friend, Gina. I don’t remember the thought process exactly, it’s possible that we didn’t see the car or that we tried to out-run it.

        Anyway, the next thing I see is a scrambled image, kind of like when a camera gets dropped on TV. I was knocked unconscious for a few seconds and woke up thinking “I am in soooo much trouble.” I literally was telling people “No, I’m fine. I don’t need to go to the hospital.” I really don’t know how I was going to explain the scrapes, bruises, chipped tooth, and broken arm. Gina fared better with a twisted ankle because I was the one that was hit by the car, and she fell under me like a domino.

        I was out of school for the rest of the week while I recovered a little but and I got my tooth fixed. That was enough time for Gina to steal my best friend. It was all very Heathers.

        Oh, and the poor driver is probably still traumatized. I really feel bad about that.

        • Wow, you were a tough little kid to try to walk it off! Also, I’m surprised that you could cross the street at that age in school. Even in high school, we weren’t allowed to leave campus for any reason during the day.

            • Also, I find it impressive that you empathize with the driver. I think that says a lot about you as a person, that you don’t blame the world or others for problems–rather, you took responsibility for running out into the street.

              • You’re right. It’s not a very snowflakey country.

                Also, another thing that doesn’t help you get ahead in life: taking responsibility for your actions. Had that happened in the US, and if my mom were the suing type, I would still be living off the insurance settlement. We are living in opposite world!

              • Responding to your comment below–What would you do today if you ran out into the road and got hit by a car? Would you sue? Would you win?

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