What Would You Tell Your Past Self If You Spoke Today?

0825My TiVo only records one show at a time (it’s an old TiVo), so sometimes it only catches a few episodes of a show. This season, Frequency is that show for me.

The premise is speculative: A woman starts talking to a man on an old ham radio. The man turns out to be her father…20 years ago.

Of course this creates all kind of interesting situations, as the woman is able to give her father information about the past. They’re both cops, so there are mysteries to solve.

But as they solve mysteries, the future changes in both small and big ways.

So there’s a certain danger to speaking to your past self. You might be married to someone in Future A, but if you tell your past self to bet on the Braves in ’96, suddenly Future B becomes a reality, and you don’t even know the person you were married to in Future A.

Given that danger, I’ve been trying to think about what I would tell my past self if I had the opportunity. It can’t be a big thing–the risk for future disruption is so great. (Though, granted, that’s a powerful tool–you could avert tragedy for someone you love. Let’s assume for this case that something like that would mess with the space-time continuum too much.)

I’m sure there are many moments I’d redo if I had the chance–we’ve all said and done things we wish would could take back. But the moment that comes to my mind is an additive one. It’s something I wish I did.

Really, it was the simplest thing. I was a senior in high school. I had just finished seventh period, and a girl I liked drew close to me on the back steps and asked me to go to the river with her instead of attending the final class of the day.

I never skipped class in high school, but I wish I had that day.

I can say that because I know the future. I know nothing would ever come of me and that girl. I also know that nothing bad was going to happen if I skipped one class out of the thousands of classes I attended in high school.

Nor am I filled with regret. It’s a little thing. But I remember it well, and I wish I had said yes. Because I don’t remember at all what happened in class that day. But I guarantee you that I would still remember spending the afternoon by the river with her.

What would you tell your past self?