Lately there’s been a question going around Facebook and other sites asking “If you could talk to anybody on a park bench for an hour, who would it be?” This is a question that has no right or wrong answer, which of course is my favorite kind of question.
It is kind of a silly question, though, because you may change your answer tomorrow, or the next day. Today the answer is George Harrison. Tomorrow it’s Mickey Mantle, the next day John Belushi. Next week you may change your mind and decide you want to sit on a bench with Jesus. Going from Belushi to Jesus is quite a stretch, but that’s how it goes with these sort of questions.
I wouldn’t choose anyone famous (or infamous). When I first thought about it, my answer was my grandmother, my Memere. I’ve got a lot to tell her about since she passed away – I got married, had kids, changed careers, etc. But mostly, I would want to talk about her. We usually take our grandparents for granted, and because they focus so much attention on us, we forget to ask about them. I’d like to hear more about her.
But then I decided that I would like to talk to my 18-year-old self. I’d look at the kid with the curly mullet and the Aerosmith concert t-shirt and tell him to lose the attitude. Then I’d tell him everything I’ve learned. I’d tell him to avoid most of the girls he’s going to date. I’d tell him not to drink as much, cut it way, way down.
I’d tell him about the trips I made to Europe in my 30’s, and then advise him to do it about 10 years earlier, and don’t come back. Stay awhile, maybe a few years. See everything you can while you’re young, with no responsibilities.
There’s a lot to tell my 18-year-old self. Get an education. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Be confident. Be more selective about your friends. Don’t worry so much about things that really don’t matter. Listen to a wider variety of music. Save your money.
I doubt my younger self would listen to me. So I’d listen to what he has to say. I often wonder what my younger self was thinking, and why. I hope I’d be able to steer him in the right direction.
And if he gave me any lip, I’d pull off my hat and show him what’s going to happen to his hair. That ought to shut him up for a while.