I recently watched Pink Skies Ahead, a film starring a 20-year old girl who just dropped out of college and moved back home with her parents. Set in 1998 Los Angeles, I would have been just a toddler. Computers existed in offices, laptops and smartphones were nonexistent, and life beyond your hometown was exciting beyond your dreams.
It’s crazy to think that one generation was all it took for life to change. Had I been born 10, 20 years earlier, my life would be on a different trajectory. My current job wouldn’t even exist until years after I graduated. Heck, would I even have studied the same majors, pursued the same career? Was my destiny largely defined by my birth date?
If you look at it from this perspective, the most secure jobs are those that have been around for a long time—and are not disappearing any time soon. Like writing, for instance. No matter how the book industry involves or the mediums through which books are published, words will never perish.
I would love to say that I would have become a writer in an earlier time. But the truth is, the chances of me becoming a prodigious writer in any alternate life are next to zero. A housewife aspiring to be an author, perhaps. An office worker scrambling to write in the wee hours of the morning, likely.
I think of my past, alternate self with a fond, bittersweet warmth in my chest. Perhaps because it rings close to home, through the eyes of my parents and my grandparents. It was their reality growing up, and I can’t help but wonder if it had been mine.
When I think of my future, alternate self, my heart speeds up. The world changing at an unpredictable and exponential rate does little to assuage my fears. It’s easier to retrace a past that has survived the turbulence of time. I just hope I don’t project these concerns onto my kids, who will live to see through this reality.
Maybe this is a symptom of getting older, becoming more tied to this earth through the vividness of the past.