If you could write a message in a bottle, one that would float down the river of life and be found by your future self, what would you write?
As I wrangled with this latest cerebral provocation from SQ HQ, my initial thought was of how futuristic a self should I speak to. Tomorrow? Next year? Next decade? Death bed? With the passage of time stretched out in front of me, coming up with a succinct or even broadly applicable statement seemed implausible.
Before long I started down something of a philosophical rabbit hole. Am I even the same person when I wake up each morning? Is the me that’s me only me right now? Is tomorrow’s me a different me?
As is the way with these existential wrestling matches, my brain eventually distracted itself lest it implode.
What could I possibly achieve by typing into the void, sending soft whispers to my future self as vibrations on the intertwined web of alternate realities? Do I even need to be achieving something by doing so? Surely such an exercise is of benefit to the now, the present being, not necessarily the future one.
I began to think of historical cases where past actions were purposefully designed to influence (distant) future ones. I drew a blank. The complexity of life means that, butterfly effect or not, the ripples of today’s actions are often lost in the turmoil of life’s tempestuous lake.
Time capsules sprung to mind as an example of sorts, although I’ve always found the idea of them rather perplexing. The (ir)relevance of our present is dictated retrospectively by the future. Is it our place to assume what will be meaningful, poignant, lasting?
Eventually the amalgam of thoughts crystallised into two contrasting yet complimentary ideas.
I hope that things are different. Not because things are bad, but because life must be a changing, evolving process. Stagnation is damnation.
Potentially the scariest thought is that the Mr MedFI of 5, 10 or 20 years time is the same person as today. There will undoubtedly be some fundamental values, some core philosophies that don’t change. It would, however, be naïve to think that the accumulation of experience over the years won’t alter things.
How I think. How I feel. How I perceive. How I act. How I am.
If that weren’t the case I’d be concerned. Arriving in the future to find myself with the same schema as today would be shocking. Have I ignored all of the lessons of life, all the learning from others along the way? I expect a distaste for aubergine and a proclivity for making groan-worthy puns may remain. Otherwise the message in the bottle is clear: I hope that things are different.
I hope that things are the same. I’d admittedly be a bit nonplussed if I landed in the future to find my income was static, and indeed if my expenditure was too. I expect that the numbers will ebb and flow with time.
What I hope remains unchanged is my attitude, my ethos in monetary matters. I would expect that the future me will still see the value in simplicity and flexibility when it comes to financial affairs. To value not the quantity obtained, but the quality that this affords.
One might think that I’d love to arrive in the future and find myself to be financially independent. Yes and no. FI is an aspiration that I believe offers the best long-term, overall balance. It might be that future me holds a different viewpoint. There may come a revelation, a realisation, a renaissance of a more mainstream modality of financial living. Or a different one altogether.
Above all I hope that in the future I continue to recognise how truly wealthy I am, regardless of the number on the spreadsheet.