You step inside the time machine and contemplate how far back you’ll go. Ten years? Twenty? Thirty? The choice is entirely yours.
Your mission is simple and singular: you are to share a message with your younger self, so that he might benefit from the wisdom you have gleaned in the years you have lived since.
You get only one shot at this: you choose the age of your younger self, and you have thirty seconds to impart something. After that, you disappear. Not just from the presence of your younger self. But the visit invariably means that the person you are now will disappear forever and be replaced by some variation. Someone slightly different? Radically different? Still alive, or no longer? Who’s to say?
Sure, you could whisper in Younger Self’s ear: “Buy 10,000 shares of [such-and-such] stock right away!” And then poof, off you go and Younger Self will have to decide what to make of this visit, and what to do about it, if anything.
You have been assured, however, that the visit will be a profound experience for Younger Self, not something she is likely to completely dismiss or ignore. Even if Younger Self concludes the whole thing was hallucinatory, it will feel significant to them — compelling and unforgettable.
What will you say to Younger Self?!
Will you urge him to avoid that life-changing injury you never fully recovered from?
Will you attempt to spare her from the suffering of a go-nowhere job or toxic relationship you have lived through?
Will you advise them to pursue a particular path, one you never explored, or one you wished you had embarked upon earlier?
Or: will your message be more philosophical in nature, rather than directive?
You are aware of the magnitude of this opportunity and are determined to make the most of it.
You want this to prove to be the best decision you ever made.
But, wait a second.
You can’t unsee what you saw just moments ago in the waiting room.
You learned, via a glance at paperwork that was not intended for your eyes, that this scene has played itself out before. Future You has previously visited…