A few months ago, I wanted to learn a musical instrument.
Borrowed a Guitar from a friend and went through the basics. One night, as I lay awake in my bed, staring at the ceiling fan, I realized it’ll take a while for me to be good at it. The next thought that went through my head was,
I wish I had started this when I was 17.
I could’ve. My parents, realizing that the only way their typical studious kid was going to be cool in college (thanks American movies, never has an entire generation of kids felt this bad about their lives) was by playing Bohemian Rhapsody on the six string. Dumb old (young) me, buried in Agatha Christies and Enid Blytons and Princes of Persia was like pfft! Long term gratification, shmong term gratification. #LiveInTheMoment #CarpeDiem
Anyhow, so as the night progressed, imagining a life that could’ve been (a Metallica Tshirt, long hair, a red-white colored electric guitar playing Sweet Child of Mine), I was struck with an interesting thought. I dream-traveled into the future.
It’s 8 years from now. I am 33. Same dilapidated room, same single bed that’s too small for me to completely fit in. Future me has a lot less hair on his head, a lot more fat on his belly and wrinkles have started showing up (hey American movies? Not cool, see what you’re doing to my mind’s eye). And similar thoughts plague me.
I wish I had started something creative when I was 25.
Except this time, I have the power of time travel. My 33 year old can travel back 8 years and ask him to get in line. Thanks, future me! You are selfish AF, but hey! You set me straight.
And here, I discovered another way to look at long term gratification (that I dub Time Travel Accountability). A lot of us have been conditioned to work better when we’re accountable to someone. That may be our parents, our boss, our coach, sensei, dog, imaginary friend, whatever. I am here to tell you that there’s no one you’d rather impress than the 8 years future you. Because that person knows you - inside out, that person is super critical of you and that person has your best interests in mind. Wouldn’t you want that person to respect you?
As the ancient Chinese proverb says,
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
Well, you know what to do.
Oh and those who are curious regarding where I am with music now, well it’s in a state of indefinite pause. I realised that there’s only so much bandwidth I can give to learning stuff and there are other priorities in life right now.