Back to the Future

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In one of the early Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Sookie talks about storing up memories to go over in her mind later. Before she starts hooking up with vampires, who have recently revealed their existence to an unsuspecting world, she lived a pretty uninteresting life as a bar maid in Northern Louisiana. Mind you, she’s a telepathic bar maid, but that’s why they call this genre “paranormal.”

So, Sookie hoards her little treats, the anomalies in her life to ponder and pick apart and re-live. And I have to say, I really couldn’t relate at all. I’m a future projector, not a past re-hasher. This is analogous to the vanilla dogs concept—the idea that some people (like me) prefer vanilla to chocolate and dogs to cats. In the same way, I think people break down into two groups—those who enjoy reliving the past, and those who prefer to fantasize about the future.

Personally, I’ve never really understood people who repeatedly go over the past in their heads again and again. It’s done. There’s no going back. Even if you think of the perfect come back to that idiot who put you down with impunity, the moment is gone and you are just wasting your time (like generals whose war plans reflect the last war and the TSA who consistently put ridiculous rules in place to thwart the last bomber). I don’t know about you, but it feels nasty to be disrobing next to a total stranger with a massive beer gut standing next to you in line for the full body scan (as if that weren’t creepy enough) and you have to worry about the horrors of catching a glimpse of butt crack when he takes off his belt.  Gah!

Is there a point to this exercise?  Does anyone really believe they are going to have an opportunity exactly like the last one where instead of saying “your mama” to the bozo who insulted you, you come back with the perfect bon mot and make him feel three inches tall with a tiny little pee pee?  Speaking of, have I ever told you about my foolproof technique for putting lecherous men in their place?  If a man can’t keep his eyes above neck level, I retaliate by glancing sideways at his crotch and making a very subtle “meh” expression with my face—as in, that don’t impress me much.  Works every time. But I digress—again.  Getting to be a problem for me.  Should probably have that looked at.  Nah.

The point is you can’t go back. The moment has passed.  The train has left the station.  That ship has sailed.  Pick your metaphor--the fat lady has done sung, my friend, and that’s all she wrote. 

So why the hell would we spend time looking back, re-living memories, oftentimes with modified narratives and definitely different endings?  Sure, I understand that many of us fantasize that way, but again, I have to ask, why? Why go backwards to a past that’s dead and gone (guess that reference!) when we can play it forward to a future that hasn’t yet occurred?  The truly glorious thing about the future is that we can play that reel in our minds and paint the canvas any way we choose (which reminds me of the awesome new book I just read, Jade, by Rose Montague—run, don’t walk to read it—very original premise and a heroine who understands completely about playing it forward!). Dream wedding in a month? Done.  Best job interview ever tomorrow?  Nailed it!  Catching that fly ball in the next game?  You got it.

And the beauty of future projection versus living in the past is that our future fantasies could actually come true! Unless they involve Vampire Bill, as they have for me, in which case I am SOL.  But I guess you never know.  Or maybe you do.

But, back to the future. The future is where we can be rich and famous and well preserved, if it takes a little longer than we’d hoped. In fact, both the scientific and non-scientific worlds have embraced the idea of future projections as a tool to build a desired reality. Athletes are well known for visualizing the move they want to master prior to execution. They see—in their mind’s eye—the club hitting the golf ball or the bat hitting the baseball or the perfect layup—and then their muscles follow the path their brains have already traveled. It works to enhance athletic performance and almost all elite athletes do it. It works in other areas as well, and most new-age types also follow this practice (and I mean absolutely no offense by that terminology—I proudly count myself among you—but I don’t know a better term—any suggestions?). Visualization is an important technique for those, like me, who want to co-create our destinies.  We visualize happiness, success, and, love, and then we execute.  It works. I know. It’s how I started writing this blog—my passion personified.

So, I have a pet peeve with those who talk about making memories.  Making memories presupposes a future where I’m sitting around thinking about my past. No, thanks. I’d rather make my destiny than make memories. But hey, live and let live, to each her own, different strokes for different folks. Vanilla dogs and all that.