I thought I saw myself today, a shy and solitary teenager who often preferred his own company to situations where he felt insecure. It is a decade since I last saw myself.
I had been heading northwards into Dublin on the Stillorgan bypass. The traffic was light, but some person in the control centre in the city must have looked at their monitors and decided that such free movement should not be allowed. Every single light turned red as the small cluster of cars approached. Barring there being a herd of cows or a funeral procession led by a horse-drawn hearse, progress could not have been slower.
Lyric FM were playing music from Alfred Hitchcock movies and every junction provided an opportunity to watch every pedestrian and every other vehicle and ponder whether any might be a Hitchcock character
At one set of lights, someone looking very familiar crossed the road. A dark blue coat with pale blue shirt and navy trousers, the twenty-something had a mop of dark brown curly hair and carried a Tesco plastic bag. Examining him closely as the red turned to green, there was a sense of knowing who the person was.
Only fifty yards down the road, did it register that the man crossing the road looked awfully like myself; or as I would have looked a generation previously. Hitchcock’s music provided a suitable backdrop to trying to remember the stuff from theoretical physics about all of time happening at once and about glimpsing our future or our past out of the corner of our eye.
Except it could not have been me, I had never walked across the Stillorgan dual carriageway in my life. Unless the many universes theory was correct and in some parallel existence I was buying my food in Tesco before crossing a busy road on the way home.
Heading towards a hospital, with its multiplicity of thoughts of mortality, I wondered, if twenty-five years previously I might not have expected things to have turned out differently. A pointless pastime, one can only play the hand one is dealt. One never knows when something unexpected might happen.
The hospital call complete, I wandered down the residential road where parking was free in the evening. White and pale pink blossom covered the trees that lined the roadside and the sky was filled with the oranges and reds of a perfect spring evening. If life had stopped at that point, would it not it have all been worth it? Perhaps my respective selves would have disagreed, but perhaps they spoke from the inexperience of youth.