Looking Back at My Future Self

I saw myself fifteen years from now last week.

No, a man with a disheveled white mane didn’t show up in a DeLorean. I approached a customer at the office supply store I work at and struck up a conversation to help him “kill some time” while waiting for a nearby restaurant to open.

Almost from the get-go, he unleashed volley after volley of slings and arrows against our hometown.

In his late-40s, awaiting the graduation of his youngest daughter and a career move to Omaha, Nebraska, he laid bare all his frustrations with the life he’d chosen and the place he’d moved back to some six years ago.

Over time, I realized he held the deepest disdain for his own decisions, for the 20+ years he’d spent making considering financial return instead of psychic value. He shook his head in disgust at his inability to convince potential employers he was shifting his priorities instead of looking for a “layover job” before the next six-figure opening became available.

My blood ran cold as he lamented “chasing the money” on his way out the door.

Suddenly, I recognized the future I was on track for in his salt-and-pepper hair.

Tired and embittered at mid-life, I might have run into a 30-year-0ld sometime in 2025 and said the same things. I’d bemoan the lost youth and missing verve, wondering if long-gone days had any meaning beyond earning a paycheck.

The bills would have been paid, but would I have washed away grander talent and lasting work in the process?

Maybe I’m strange compared to the average person that’s said goodbye to their 20s.

I’m focused on making a legacy.

Does that require fame and fortune?

Certainly not…though I’m capable of both.

I refuse to die asking myself what more I could have given.

Who would my words benefit?

What am I to share?

When could my heart provide aid?

Where must I go?

Why should I do anything else?

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