Posted by: joha5 | July 13, 2010

Opening a Time Capsule: A Reflection 10 Years in the Making

You never really know what to expect when you take a trip down memory lane.  It is strange how memories not only shape our current perspective in how we perceive the world but also how memories really are able to elicit such emotional reactions from people as well.  Everybody experiences happiness in their lifetime and everybody experiences suffering.  These are part and parcel with the human condition.  These experiences become part of our personal history and sometimes they make us laugh, sometimes they make us cry, and sometimes they just make us feel awkward.  

On Thursday, June 8th, 2000, I sat in my high school cafeteria a week before I was to graduate high school and was presented with a bright yellow piece of paper.  It was a questionnaire.  But as I read through it I realized that this wasn’t the kind of questionnaire that I had been expecting to answer about giving feedback to the school and all of that kind of end game stuff you normally do when you leave a job or school or university.  What it was seemed very benign and simple at the time but it would prove – in my infinite age and wisdom – to be anything but.  It was a time capsule.  

Who needs a time machine when you did a time capsule in high school?!


Time capsules are probably the worst kind of memory one can make because it is a physical manifestation that is specifically intended to be forgotten about only to be rediscovered however many years later.  In this sense there is actual pressure when you make a time capsule because you are fully aware that you will be viewing this later on in your life and you therefore have to balance between accurately reflecting who you were at the time of the time capsule while also doing your best to seem as far ahead of your time as possible.  Because really…who wants to look at a time capsule and realize that you can’t even respect a previous version of yourself? 

We were supposed to open these time capsules in 5 years from the time of graduation and considering I graduated high school in 2000 and it is now 2010, I technically opened mine 5 years later which means 5 years more education, 5 years more knowledge, 5 years more life and work experience.  Basically, I know it was going to be awkward.  I remembered filling it out in 2000 but now roughly 3,650 days had passed by.  I was a different person.  I was about to get a very rare and very raw glimpse into my past and I wasn’t going to be able to sugarcoat it in any way.  There would be no revisionist history.  There would be no public viewing.  It was me who sat down and spilled my thoughts on that page those 10 years ago as an 18-year-old and it was me who was going to sit down as a 28-year-old trying to get a better perspective on who I am now and just how far I have come.  

I sat down on my sofa and tepidly began to open the envelope.  The color of the paper was still so garish and offensive that it almost glowed in the afternoon sun streaming through my window.  I felt like Charlie opening up the chocolate bar that contained the golden ticket…only a lot less lucky and a lot more nostalgic.  I unfolded it and began reading.  I felt still but simultaneously read it at a million miles an hour.  I cringed at some parts and smiled in others.  I felt like a genius in some parts and I felt like an idiot in others.  It was this huge mix of extremes that strangely seemed to cancel each other out and it left me with a very weird mix of emotions.  It just kind of felt like me.  

For better or for worse, what I read was me in all of my glory.  Personally, I didn’t find much resonance in what I wrote 10 years ago.  My social circle’s have changed, I have different wants and desires for myself, and what was important to me back then strangely isn’t important to me now.  However, I was instantly transported back to a time when this was my life.   

…and I liked it.  I certainly don’t wish to relive it or have any desire to go back and experience all of those things again but I realized that not only did I like myself back then but I also like who I have become.  I don’t know if everybody can say that about themselves both in the past or maybe I am just a narcissistic bastard.  Whatever the case may be it was a great epiphany to have and I thanked my 18-year-old self profusely as I read.  I thanked myself for a job well done on growth and development.  I thanked myself for being honest in the time capsule.  I thanked myself for never really being that cool but always honest enough to know that I wasn’t.  But most of all, I thanked myself for always putting myself in a situation to eventually succeed.  Even when the chips were down for me in high school (and there were a couple of moments that were referenced by the 18-year-old me in the time capsule), I realized that I always did what I needed to do to learn, to think critically, and to move forward without trepidation.  

I’m a different person today and I am thankful for that.  I have my fair share of successes and I have had my fair share of failures.  It isn’t often that I take a walk down memory lane and it is even more rare when I do just on my own in private.  But sometimes – just sometimes – I think it is worth taking a look back at where you have come from to help you realize just where you need to go.


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