I ran into an old friend today, on the street a few blocks from my place. She looks pretty much like she did then – enough that I recognized her from behind. She didn’t recognize me for a few moments, as I’m about thirty pounds heavier, am losing a bit of hair and have a beard. I didn’t, however, feel I’d changed; seeing her, looking in many ways just like she had back then, brought me right back to 10 years ago, graduating with my first Bachelor’s degree, sure I was a couple of years from becoming a famous writer / editor / book publisher / philosopher king. The world never ends up being quite what we expect.
Ten years ago I was a fairly tongue-tied young man, with a tendency to frown or smirk at people to cover my inability to finish a spoken sentence. This evening expect I came off as a less arrogant, better-behaved version of that idiot kid. Context encourages behaviour, so running into an old friend partly turned me back into my old self. The idiot.
It was an uncomfortable minute for me that we spoke on the street corner. I was confronted by my past, the many things I’d hoped would be different, the dreams that would have in many cases been impossible for anyone. I fought old habits, realizing how much of an arrogant jerk of a kid I really had been all those years ago, wanting to somehow convey the better person I hope I’ve become since then.
My old friend seemed just as uncomfortable as I did – I suspect in her own way she was experiencing much of what I felt. I stepped away as quickly as I knew how to, out from the past, safely back into my present life.
I believe there may be such a thing as time shock, like culture shock when confronted by our past. Could there be culture shock for our future? What might that look like?
Regardless, it was an experience. The clock is ticking, now matter how easy it may be to lose track from our vantage point inside the clock.