Most stories involving time travel hold that time is non-deterministic: a small change in the past can amplify over time and drastically change the present. Some, like Doctor Who, believe it’s deterministic: there are fixed events which are unavoidable, though the path between them may vary a bit.
Until we can get a DeLorean up to eighty-eight miles per hour, we’re not going to know which theory is correct. But this is exactly the answer that Ebenezer Scrooge implores of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come:
“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”
Scrooge correctly reasoned that there would be no point in the spirits exploring his past, present, and future unless the experience was a warning and an education. “I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!”
It was the perfect combination of past, present, and future. It was exactly what Scrooge needed to change. It’s what you need make the same kind of powerful transformation in your life.
The spirits did three specific things for Scrooge’s perception:
- First, the Ghost of Christmas Past reconnected Scrooge with his younger self. He was reminded of the optimism he had in his youth. As the vignettes of his past unfold, he sees how the choices he made gradually led to a life he didn’t enjoy. He wasn’t happy. His name, in and out of the story, is synonymous with being a grumpy old miser.
We can’t complete the past until we acknowledge what we already experienced.
- Next, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the magic and wonder that Christmas can and should still hold. It is a season of generosity and abundance, two mindsets that we should have all year. As an ephemeral observer, Scrooge also gets a stark look at how other people perceived him.
- Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come reveals the natural consequences of Scrooge’s actions. Tiny Tim dies a preventable death. Scrooge also dies alone and takes up the chains he was warned of by Jacob (and Robert) Marley.
If we want to change our lives, we first need to connect with our past. It has defined who we are. Every action and experience has built our present, brick upon brick.
The past has good stuff. It has bad stuff. It has incomplete stuff. Now we have to decide whether we’re going to stay the course or adjust our sails.
We also need a clear vision of where we want to go. We don’t need (and probably won’t meet) a silent phantom to show us the shadows of what may be.
Regularly spend time up at the 30,000 foot level. Picture the life you want to live. Get crystal-clear. Know the direction you’re going.
Where do the past and future meet? In the present. Today.
This is where you act. This is where you change.
This is where you are living the past you’ll someday wish you could rewrite.
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,“ said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
It doesn’t take much. We underestimate the impact our actions can have. Our present may not change as dramatically as Scrooge’s, but it will change.
Small and simple and consistent actions will amplify over time and drastically change your future.
When that day comes, you may not remember today, but today was the day you stopped saying humbug! It was the day you made the effort to change your past. The day your rewrote your history.