Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Message in a bottle

So I'm watching this show on Netflix about time-travel and trying to change the future (or save it), and trying to send messages to yourself in the past from the future:  all those tangles and paradoxes we think we'd get into if we actually could move freely in time (which Kurt Godel, a far smarter man than I, concluded with sheer logic doesn't exist; time, I mean.  Logic is wonderful, especially when it seems to be so illogical.) and it got me thinking about leaving messages for my future self to unravel.

We are a continuous self, yes?  You shed skin cells, your entire body is "new" compared to the one you were born with, but that's mere persiflage:  you are you.  In fiction (as happens in this TV series I'm watching) you lose your memories, you don't know who "you" are.  Since Locke we've thought that we are who we are because we remember who we are; or were.  Which brings me to the Xmas lights.

I put up no small amount of these things on the house.  Oh, not the Chevy Chase power drain restore the daylight displays.  I have a lot of windows on a house on a corner (so lots of street exposure), and I put lighted wreaths in each one (the details of how I get them to light up is another matter.  Suffice to say I don't want the Fire Dept. inspecting me in December).  I put a large wreath (lighted also) and lights on the storage shed in the back yard (it looks like a miniature barn).  I put lights on the roof of the house, outlining the eaves.  It's no small task putting up these lights (well, at my age), and it involves lots of extension cords, each used for one connection and not another.

And here's where the messages come in.  Every year I look for the boxes of lights, pull them from storage where they've been for 11 months, and dig through them trying to figure out how to do this, again.  Oh, I have some idea of the basics; but the details change annually.  Every year I put the extension cords away (I must have a dozen of them) and the strings of lights (again, a lot; the house has a long side on the street, and an equally long side facing another house, and a garage that gets lights, and the "barn" and the bottle tree in the backyard).  So on and so on and so on....

And every year I pack away the lights with intent, doing it just so in order to leave a message to myself in 11 months on how to do this without reinventing the distribution of cords and lights; and every year, it's a mystery what I was thinking 11 months ago.

I pack the boxes just so, using a particular box for particular items; and I organize the items for convenience, putting related cords together with related lights, or even with related cords.   I even put the boxes away in a certain order.  At least that's what I mean to do; effectively what I actually do is throw everything in a box and pull it out in 11 months and reinvent the wheel; and wonder what I was thinking 11 months ago, to stack the boxes the way I did.

My boxes are time travelers.  Static in time, they travel forward another year, bearing the message of my intentions to the future.  In the future, I open the boxes; but I can't read the message.  Every year I know I packed this box that way for a reason; but the reason is lost to me.

Who packed these boxes?  And what was his relationship to me?  Which me is me?  And what is my relationship to the me of 11 months ago?  Sometimes, when I look at wedding pictures or high school-era snapshots, I see a goofy idiot with no clue, too naive to realize how much he doesn't know, and doesn't want to know.  I remember that guy; he's still with me.  But every time I open those boxes (and don't get me started on the boxes of Christmas decorations in the attic), I wonder:  who was the idiot who did this?  And what was he thinking?

Time travel is bad enough without making it worse.

Just to make up for the one I started with....

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