Most people at one time or another have wished they could travel back in time to impart sage advice to their younger selves. While that may not be possible, there is a long tradition of saving ‘time capsules’ of information for future revisiting.
I recall my primary school, with much fanfare, burying artefacts of the day in anticipation of digging them up again in the year 2000. While I wasn’t there for the grand uncovering, the contents of that magical box from 1983 – a Leo Sayer album, a super-spin yo-yo, a hypercolour T-shirt and photos of a bunch of bemused working class kids in Adelaide’s northern suburbs – must surely have been somewhat underwhelming to millennial archaeologists.
These days, you can get in touch with your future self without getting your hands dirty, thanks to FutureMe. At first glance, the site looks a bit redundant. Write an email to yourself and schedule it to be sent at a future date – tomorrow, next week… next decade. But the more I thought about it, the more the simple genius of the concept grew on me.
So much of our ephemeral realities, all important in the moment, slip away with the passage of time, along with the insights and lessons they contain. It’s why people keep journals. But let’s face it, a journal takes serious commitment to sustain over years and decades.
FutureMe contains a public message section, and there is even a book, both of which are replete with intimate, funny, narcissistic and often heartbreaking emails: the message written by the graduating teen, the pregnant woman, the old man dying of cancer. The site is filled with vicarious fascination and reminded me of PostSecret, where people share and mail their anonymous secrets by postcard.
So go ahead, spend a few moments writing to your future self about how life is today, and how you hope it to be at a moment of your choosing in the future. Then schedule it, and get back to work.