Every night before he goes to bed, Rob folds up his clothes for the next day and arranges them in the bathroom. Sometimes he'll make the next day's snacks too, chopping up carrots and apples in advance and putting them in easy-to-grab containers.
"As a favor to Future Rob," he explains.
The first time Rob described his process like this I was distracted by the odd phrasing. It sounded like a line from one of the Back to the Future movies. But while I was doing some advanced breakfast preparation recently, it struck me how brilliant this idea is - not just the practice, but the thought process behind it - and how different Rob's concept of "future" is from mine.
I think about Future Me quite often, but I picture the Future Me who is my mom's age. "Future" is more of a sci-fi concept than a here-and-now measurement in my mind. I think of the future as being at least 20 years away, not 15 hours from now.
And even more often than I think about any version of Future Me, I think of Past Me. I spend a lot of time being angry with Past Me for not doing things. I berate Past Me for her decisions, criticize her looks, mock her. Of course, she's not around to hear any of it, so Current Me has to absorb all of that (self-)hatred. And so I end up with all kinds of false nostalgia for How Great Things Would Be if Past Me Hadn't Been Such a Fuck-up, along with a new, extra-strength dose of self-inflicted insecurity.
The problem with all of this - besides the total wrongness of bullying my current self by hating on Past Me - is that I have absolutely no agency in the past. Whether or not harsh words and nasty thoughts are helpful, I can't go back in time and change things. Past Me just is. (Or was - whatever.) I can't ever make her be or say or do anything else.
Future Me is another story. She's a story that hasn't been written yet, but one that I'm in the process of writing every minute of every day. Which means I can make her into anything I wish. And I'd much rather move forward as I move forward, forming a story with kind, appreciative words instead of bitterness and hate. Doing favors. Self-love in advance.
It's a strange, self-aware New Year's resolution: moving into the future, deciding to care for my Future Self, and on and on and on.
I think I'll start by making Future Noelle a delicious breakfast.