Being invisible was just the tip of the iceberg

Suddenly the Invisible Man is besieged by old snapshots.

Snapshots on the walls of his daughter’s empty apartment when he drops off something.

Including one of his wife wearing fairy wings and waving a magic wand while his daughter, as a child, regards the camera with a sober expression.

Snapshots in frames on his desk, or taped to the walls.

Including one of his wife smiling in a blue swimming pool, holding his daughter as a toddler, also smiling.

So much sunshine and smiling.

There are more. In one he carries his daughter on his shoulders. It is from before he became invisible. It is underexposed and he has black hair and a black beard and looks scary. His daughter is hugging his head. They are surrounded by flowers.

(It is the older daughter in most of the pictures, because the pictures of the younger daughter are mostly digital, and lost forever, or somewhere hard to recover).

Looking at all these pictures would be bad enough for the Invisible Man for the nostalgia alone but it’s worse.

The Invisible Man thought being invisible was bad, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. The snapshots goof up time and the Invisible Man becomes unstuck and encounters all his past selves, and the past selves of those he loves.

If you think being invisible is bad – and listen, it is, robbing banks is fun only so long – becoming unstuck in time and encountering all your past selves really sucks.

Because it turns out every single one is a stranger.

Those past selves you remember don’t even exist.

Memory is funny that way.

And in many cases, not every single one of these past selves is someone you’d care to remember.

There is a reason memory does that.

This is why forgiveness is so important.

Because sometime the snapshots add up and time dissolves and then what?

He calls his wife and apologizes.

Water under the bridge, she says.

Sunk cost.

A note to my 16-year-old self

Do everything exactly as I did, changing absolutely nothing, because if you change anything, even the smallest detail, it will ripple through the space-time continuum and – like an Amazonian butterfly wingflap causing a hurricane on the other side of the world (yes, you heard me right, there will be a period of time in your future when people say idiotic bullshit things like that) – possibly change something, and you don’t want to change anything, believe me. You don’t want to change the house you live in, the beautiful woman you are married to, or your children, who are funny, beautiful and brilliant and love you as much as you love them, if you can imagine such a thing, and you love them perhaps imperfectly, but absolutely. Change nothing at all. You will suffer, but less than many people, and you will witness intense beauty both great and small, and you will be very happy, for the most part.

Now, if you can be absolutely sure that you can change a few things at your age without fucking things up for me, here are a few small tips:

  • Stop worrying about the size of your johnson*, it’s perfectly fine, and anyway it’s not the size that matters, it’s how much of the housework you do.
  • Soon you will be seventeen. In that year, punk music will happen, and you will go to Europe, and kiss a pretty girl, and grow a beard. Seriously, it will be a great year.
  • However, when a drunk guy driving a van cuts you off on the freeway near 78th St., please slam on your brakes instead of swerving, because if you swerve you will hit a car and it will be your fault. No one will be hurt, but it will suck nevertheless.
  • Isn’t “swerve” the coolest word?
  • Take better care of your lower back. Running, swimming and working out with weights all help.
  • Coincidentally, they also help with depression. Perhaps seek therapy for this as well, if more exercise doesn’t do it, it will improve the quality of your life considerably. Melancholy is fine, but depression is a waste of your life.
  • Begin taking electric bass lessons immediately, if you get good you are practically certain of finding a spot in a band. Cello also. It is a beautiful instrument and you will sound better when you are older.
  • Before doing anything, ask yourself a question: Is this stupid? If the answer is yes, and you still do it, and it really was stupid, learn from it and don’t do it again.
  • Also ask yourself: Will doing this hurt someone more than if I don’t do it? If it will, don’t do it. In general, try to pay closer attention to other people’s feelings and don’t hurt them, you will regret it all your life if you do.
  • However: learn the difference between wisdom and fear, and grant the former a larger role in your life, and the latter a smaller role.
  • Your dad: talk to him, watch him more closely, listen to him. He loves you deeply, he is just giving you space and giving you a choice. He is letting you make your own mistakes. He has some good advice, try to get as much of it as you can. If you can, make friends with him, because you will miss him sorely when he dies.
  • Be friendlier to people, and kinder, and do not fear them
  • Study writing if that’s what you want to do. Don’t waste your time studying economics, you’ll forget everything after graduation anyway. Study more languages, you have an aptitude at your age.
  • Buy Microsoft stock, as much as you can. Keep buying it until Google stock becomes available, then sell all your Microsoft stock and buy Google, then sell that in like 2008 or something.

*my apologies to people named Johnson, it’s just my favorite word for wang**.

**my apologies to people named Wang***

***also people named Dick, and Pecker, and so on