A screenwriter’s job is to capture the human condition and the fantasies and torment of the human mind. That’s why there are so many time travel movies: humans are constantly thinking “what if” and “if only.” Back to the Future is all about what would have been different if something small had changed in the past. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is about exploring what the world was like in different times. Terminator is about killing someone from the past so that a savior child is not born.
These movies are all artistic interpretations of thoughts we have all the time. For example:
- What if things had gone differently?
- What if I had done this, instead of that?
- If only I could go back and fix this one thing…
- What if I could erase all the horrible mistakes?
- What if I could go back and do all the things I thought I’d do, said I’d do, and wanted to do, and therefore become the imaginary person I thought I would one day be?
In reality you cannot. You can only focus on where you are and what you can do going forward. You’re never too old, too young, too anything.
In a way, these are all comfortable excuses for not being who we want to be, living the life we want to have. Anyone reading this post has some level of agency. Believe in your agency. Instead of regret, imagine what you can do today to make your future self proud.
2020 was a really hard year. When I look at it in a certain light, it’s easy to beat myself up over a “lost” year. But, the achievement, in a year like this, is getting through it the best you can. We still have 16 days left of this year; let’s focus on getting out safely and with our sanity intact. There’s hope, thanks to hardworking scientists.
The best thing we can do is look forward, towards a better world where we are more aware, less naïve, yet more hopeful about the amazing things human beings can create. The amazing things you will create.