If you could find out details of your future, would you?

I’m assuming in this case that you wouldn’t be able to change what happens – anything that you found out would happen to you in exactly the way you were told.

In some ways, knowing could be reassuring. If we knew that things would turn out well, we wouldn’t spend our time and energy worrying about how life will go, and what to do with ourselves. Knowing that we can’t make “wrong” decisions would be freeing, in a way. But it could also be horrible.

If we already know if we’ll succeed, we don’t need to put in energy to doing our best. If we know what we’ll end up doing, we don’t need to aim high, to imagine great things for ourselves, to have ambitions or hopes or dreams. And if we in fact know that we have failure or pain in store, what then? Could you go through enjoying life and trying things knowing that in the end you would fail? Could you make the most of your time, lose yourself in love for someone or something, knowing that it’s only a short time until it all falls apart?

I don’t think I could.

What excites me is possibilities, and they are scary. I’m young, I don’t know what I’ll end up doing with my life, or who, if anyone, I’ll spend it with. I can work hard at things, knowing that there might be a reward, that things will probably go better if I just push myself. If I already knew what would happen when I tried to do something, or when I met someone, life could easily become rather boring. I’d just end up disinterested, lazy, and discontent.

And if I knew I would fail, I don’t think I could grin and enjoy the good times knowing what was coming.

I might find it pleasant to have some vague reassurance – that overall things would be ok – but I don’t think I want to know any details. I’d rather find them out for myself the hard way.

It may even be like quantum states – until someone takes a measurement, it could be any of a large number of possibilities. If finding out the future was what fixed it, would it be better to do so, or to wait so we can try and make it as good as possible first? If not knowing left the possibility of changing it, I’d rather know I was able to make a difference to the future. If we know we cannot change things, what has happened to our free will?


If you could go back to when you were a child, with your current memories and knowledge, would you?

We’re assuming here that your mind somehow goes back in time to your child self, so unless/until you start changing things you grow up again with everything happening the same way you remember. (And yes, this does sound a bit like a bad fanfiction trope).

My first thought for this is yes, since there are a great many things I wish I’d done when I was younger. Streched myself more academically, for example, or tried my hand at acting. There are ways I’m sure my life would be better, or would have been better at the time, if I’d been more confident and quite possibly more bulshy and annoying when I was bored in school. Also, I could have avoided doing a couple of things I feel rather guilty or embarassed about now…

On the other hand, part of me is telling me that it would be boring as hell. Imagine having to live through a time again of other people being in control of your life, of “learning” boring and easy things that you already know, having to go through puberty again and get used to how small and different your body was, of not being treated as responsible, of adults not taking you seriously… I hated that enough when I was that age, and it would be worse over again.

I reckon that if I did it, I’d get very frustrated and lonely, but would hopefully have the opportunity – and particularly the time – to try things I’ve never had a chance to, and maybe the mindset to get a lot better at things that I have done – the instruments I play, for example. I could fix the points where I regret not doing more work. But in some ways it would feel like cheating – I would have an advantage over everyone else “my age” in whatever I was trying to do, and I would have knowledge of the future (unless I made major changes, that is, and while I doubt I could/would want to avoid making minor ones, I don’t think I’d manage to change anything particularly large – I don’t think I could prevent a war, or an economic collapse, or anything) – and there would be a certain temptation to use some of that knowledge to my advantage, although I don’t think I’d remember enough detail to, say, play the stock market perfectly or win the lottery. Let alone some of the things I experienced in school where it’s only in hindsight that I get angry about just how bad they were – I would hate to have to go through the same again, or I would explode and yell at a lot of people, and alienate myself in doing so.

There were some times, particularly as an mid-older teenager, that were really quite good, and I rather miss some of things I could do then. I’m not sure it would be the same though – making friends would be…interesting…given I’d certainly have a different mindset to others and if they were people that I remembered it would be somewhat difficult to create the same sort of friendship given what I know and given that it took time to get to the sorts of interactions that I know expect and enjoy with my friends.

Essentially, I’m really not sure. I think I wouldn’t, because it would be hard and horrible to actually do, although if I could go back and change a few things without actually having to live through it all again there are some things I would change.

So, would you go through life all over again?