“I’m only guessing. As you get older, Gemma, you’ll understand things that don’t make sense now. Think how much you’ve changed since you left Iceland. You’re going to change that much again in the next ten years.”
-Margot Livesey, The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future.”
-Quoidbach, Gilbert and Wilson, “The End Of History Illusion”
I don’t know how much I understand. Here I am at the end of my twenties, and I’m at the same place Gemma was at the beginning of her teens. I know that the me of a decade ago was very different. I still expect, somehow, that the me of a decade from now will be much the same as I am today. And of course, he–I–won’t be.
I wonder if I do that out of fear: to contemplate changing so much is a little like contemplating death. I wonder if it’s just lack of imagination: wanting something now makes it feel important, and if it’s important, it’s hard to imagine not wanting it. In any case, as Q. G. and W. point out, it’s just silly for me to think that now is the end of history. It’s not. It’s another year, another spin. I remember studying Martin Luther King, Jr–a historical figure, for me–and feeling the world twist when my mom mentioned listening to his speeches first hand. Someday I’ll be on the other side in a conversation about Obama or George W. Bush–figures who are, for me, now, and who will soon be then. I’ll be on the other side of me, too. The things I thought I knew will seem different. The things I thought were essential to who I am and how I behave will be peripheral. I might have a new career. I might have a cat. I might have become a coffee drinker.
That’s frightening. It’s hard to plan for a world that will have changed so much. That’s something to remember. The choices I make will become the history someone else has to live with. That’s rather nice. There will be more (and less, and different) than I expect. And of course, I’m only guessing, because I’m a child, listening and trying to understand.