What would happen if the 18-year-old you were to show up and pass judgment on the current you? Would he be impressed? Would you have to make excuses to him as to why your life turned out the way it did? Or would you laugh him and his unrealistic adolescent expectations out of the room?
This is part of what “Dead Guy” is about. The night of his high school graduation, Pete Hawkins is shown a website by his best friend. What you do is write emails to people in your life – emails that you don’t want them to read until you’re dead – and send them to the site for safe keeping. You tell them things you wish you had the nerve to say, things you could never say, things which would make it impossible for you to ever face them again if they knew. After you die, the site sends them out to their intended recipients. Sixteen years after that graduation night, Pete is alive and well… but his emails get sent out mistakenly. Complications arrive in the form of Christine, that high school crush who got away, and Pete has to look at his current life through the eyes of his 18-year-old self.
Websites like that are real – www.lastwishes.com and others – and they got me thinking. The 18-year-old me was an arrogant big-talking know-it-all (kind of like the current me, only younger, but that’s a subject for a different post…). There are plenty of ways I think I have “grown up” since then, and in a good way. But on the other hand, the arrogant 18-year-old me was more ambitious, confident, and unwilling to take “no” for an answer. Some of his unrealistic expectations gave him strength, strengths which have faded as I’ve gotten older and “grown out” of this kind of behavior.
I guess what it comes down to is the difficuly of “growing up” without “selling out.” Can you stay the same in some ways while changing in others? Looking back, did you choose the right things to change about yourself and the right things to keep the same?