The War Against Future You
A writer’s treatment of time travel is frequently polarized between genius and well, not-so genius. Sometimes it’s mired in bad science regardless of how well researched the piece is. Sometimes its brilliance is proven when vision of the future comes to pass 20 to 2000 years later (think Mayans). From any treatment, though, an observer can extract the age old question: Can you either go forward or go backward in time and meet yourself.
I am an existentialist and an artist. As a result, I study the subject of time travel with a complete lack of science but a wealth of imagination—which sometimes leads me to complaints about phrases like “worm hole”. I mean really, think about it “worm hole”?
Dispensing with theories regarding whether the universe will implode, the earth will implode, or—on a much smaller scale—you and your doppelganger will implode when you meet, I’d like to submit that I think it’s completely possible to meet yourself in the future or past without impending doom. My reasoning is this. There is only one You. Future You is a different person, so is Past You. Different experiences, different thoughts, genetically similar, but either older or younger. Different. Not the same. Not a paradox. I told you I don’t approach these things from a scientists viewpoint.
Anyhow, while I think it’s completely possible, I do not think it’s quite fair. Future You will (if he or she is not the kind of drinker I am) remember exactly the thoughts and feelings running through Present You’s mind at the time of meeting. Future You will be able to manipulate the conversation, manipulate your actions based on that knowledge. Because Future You is just as self-centered as Present You and Future will want to control his/her past which is shared with Present You’s future.
It is with great fervor that I request this: should Present You ever meet Future You, the only option you have is to wage war upon him or her. If you don’t, you will be stuck in a loop of asking questions, attempting to right your life, to change your path, to win your bet on the Superbowl, but Future You will absolutely not help. Future You has fight or flight in mind, survival, and will only tell you the results of the actions, the zeros or the ones, off or on, that put you on the path to Future You. No matter what you do to combat the arrogance of Future You, the anti-temporal session has already happened, so Future You will probably see it coming and will—in the end—only do things that will preserve his/her existence.
It is probably only fair that I disclose to you that warring with Future You is nearly futile. For one, Future You knows all your moves. Going for the jab? Future You dances backwards. Going for a karate chop? Future is raising a steady forearm to meet the firm ridge of your hand. Future You will not get exasperated or tired of this exchange because Future You knows at just what point you will get exasperated and tired of this exchange.
You can try to wrest your predetermined future away from Future You’s grubby little paws by doing something different than Future You did, perhaps by doing the opposite of whatever Future You says. However, Future You would probably remember that and tell you to do the opposite of what he/she really wants. Future You’s version of a kid’s Opposite Day.
You could off yourself, but hey, nobody benefits from that.
No, the only way to ensure that you win this battle is to…
Come to think of it, you may want to ask Future You why he/she chose to come to you after you’ve read this article. Think about it: if I give you the secret to besting Future You, then... why then it behooves Future You to appear before you read this article and to ensure that you never read it at all.
But if Future You succeeds in preventing you from reading this article, well then you would have won wouldn’t you? Your path would have changed, the butterflies would have effected. And, dear friend, Future You will not be you. Future You’s past and Present You’s future will no longer align. You will be free, and Future You will become… well… Bizarro You. And, somewhere, out there, a new Future You would be spawned, probably appearing out of nothing on a couch somewhere watching the Future’s version of Survivor.
That is the answer, my friends. The answer to surviving an interchange with Future You is to listen to Future You when Future You meets Past You.
But, this point is moot, isn’t it. You are reading the article. Present You. And it saddens me somewhat. It means that Past You never met Future You and it means that Present You never will. Because—of course—Future You will not come to you now. Not when you read the words below and understand.
Unless, well, unless you [THIS PART CENSORED BY FUTURE GRAYSON}
Why that’s all you can do!