Reliving Your Life

October 15, 2018

Suppose the dead can return to the world and be anyone from any era: inhabit the life of a living person, think what they think, feel what they feel. (The dead can only observe, not influence, and they’re undetectable to the living, as if behind a one-way mirror.)

And suppose that, after you die, one of the lives you can choose to live is your own: you can experience it again, as often as you’d like, invisible to your own living self. (This isn’t so different from the familiar notion of a soul, which—like the proposed afterlife-self—is invisible to the “you” that’s reading this.)

Now suppose you’ve already done this: in the future, died and chosen to relive your life. That is, suppose your afterlife-self is present right now, “riding along” with you.

You must have chosen to relive this part of your life in particular—and you must treasure these days to have to chosen them. Maybe they feel frustrating or pointless now, but a far older version of yourself chooses to (can’t help but?) relive them over and over.

Why is that? What are you overlooking that’s so wonderful it’s worth reliving? You’re irritated with someone—don’t you know you came back just to see her again?

I sometimes try to imagine this as a way of forcing the long view. Try to imagine my future self whispering, “Pay attention to this! It’s important! You have no idea how badly you’ll want it again!”