What I would tell my younger self:
Well, where to begin? If I were given the opportunity to slip an anonymous message to my younger self, a single sentence only… what would I say? When you REALLY start to think about it, and the possible impact that the otherwise innocuous collection of characters could have, it proves to be a surprisingly difficult question, dear reader!
We’ve all seen the stories that have touched on this, my favourite being the “Back to the Future” series. The struggles that Marty McFly went through to avoid destroying his parent’s past (and therefore himself!) while at the same time helping his father, George, get noticed by his mother (SPOILER: almost replacing him in her affections at one point!) goes some way to warn us of the dangers of such an opportunity. I will be referring to these films throughout this post, just for fun, if not for relevance!
For the purpose of my piece of the 2018 Writing Challenge, I have excluded all obvious avenues of fiscal gain, so no Grays Sports Almanac for me!
In my professional career, I have been lucky. Many things have slotted into place, at the right time, for me to arrive where I am today. While I’d like to have arrived at this position five years earlier, I’m happy where I am. I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. In short, I couldn’t be happier, and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
Despite the power for good that advice from the future could be, I would be concerned that if I were to say something to redirect my younger self’s efforts, I would risk erasing my current position, or inadvertently wish my kids out of existence! I couldn’t send anything back through the temporal telegram service that could be damaging. It’s simply too risky.
So, what WOULD I send back through timey-wimey snail-mail? It would be this simple phrase:
Jez – Always Remember – Est Sularus Oth Mithas
Before you reach for your Latin dictionary, I’ll save you the trouble. It’s a quote from one of my all-time favourite book series – The Dragonlance Chronicles, written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (1984-1985). The quote is the oath of the fictional Knights of Solamnia, a group I have always been particularly fond of. In the Solamnic language, it means “My honour is my life,” and it is something that my preteen self really latched on to.
Personal honour means something different to each of us, but to me it means, “Do what you say you will do and do what is morally right.” It’s an extremely simple ideal, but one that I brought forward with me through the three decades since I first read those books, and one that I hope I remain true to today.
With the message decided, what remains is the timing of its delivery. Like the telegram Marty received from Doc Brown at the beginning of “Back to the Future 2,” I would want it to arrive when it would have the most impact. For me, this is easy:
When I was 18, and finishing up my secondary school education, I had a bit of what we refer to over here as “a wobbly.” I lost faith in my direction, as many young men do at this time. If I were to receive this message back then, I think I would have appreciated both the sentiment and underlying meaning without endangering my future position.
We are, at times, our own worst enemy. Receiving this bolt from the blue at that time of my life would help me defeat the lingering self-doubt and regain my mojo a little sooner. A small thing, perhaps, but it would help 2018 me look back on that time with a little less negativity!
So, that’s my story, and my message, dear reader! I do hope you enjoyed reading this small insight into the person behind the moniker “SilverbackSays.” If you are to take anything at all from this lumbering piece of writing, I hope it’s the gentle reminder that every decision we make, every action, has an impact on others. Being honourable is as much about being true to yourself as it is about how you treat others, and what impact your actions have on the world around you.
Here’s to hoping you have a fantastic end-of-year celebration, and a prosperous (and dare I say honourable!) 2019!