While travelling on metro, there is a young man seated in front of me and I wonder, how will he be at 40? How different will be his future from the one he imagined? Maybe this unconformist student will become a financial executive, or on the contrary, he is attending a business school and later he will become shepherd. Or that gentleman, big and solemn, how was he like when a little boy playing soccer at the schoolyard and collecting beetles in a shoe box? Or, if there is a girl, with a dreamy look, how will she be at sixty? What sort of experiences will she have been through, what partners, who will have loved her, who will have made her suffer?
Somehow it’s about the exercise of projecting people to the “seven ages of life”, now reduced to four. There are precedents of that exercise, in Dickens’ Christmas Carol Scrooge is presented to different Christmas in his life, or in Borges’ tale “El Otro”, a 19 year old Borges from 1918 coincides in a bench with a 70 year old Borges.
What if for some minutes, the lapse between two metro stops, actually they would coincide there, sitting on the bench, 5 year old John, 20 year old, 40 and 70 year old, and they would see themselves reflected in the window facing them? Would the old man recognise himself in the other three or perhaps would have already forgotten them? Would he consider addressing them? The 40 year old would anticipate the old man he will become? The child would not, he would stare at the others as perfect strangers.
However, despite this difficulty in connecting, I believe that we are not just our present identity and role but that we accumulate the previous and anticipate the next ones, like when in a book, the chapter we are reading now is in the company of past chapters and expectations about what will the end chapter be like (In “Albertine disparue” Proust said that humans are amphibious beings that live simultaneaously in the past and in present reality).
So, like a (double) drunkard that sees double, sometimes I see people multiplied by four, each one in the company of the other three selves in other life ages.