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Category Archives: What is Future Tom?

Future Tom, Tear Down This Wall

You know, I was going to write another letter to Future Tom and kick him in the ass again, but it seemed kind of redundant, and hardly anything is funny or clever twice, especially when it’s a year long.  But yes, I’d say it’s clear that Future Tom, my friends, has not learned a thing.

Here’s what I’ve learned that me and Future Tom have in common – we will both gladly sit around drinking beer and watching Doctor Who all the time and flipping off our laptop, because that’s just sort of our natural state.  And it’s not all our fault – this season of Doctor Who is pretty kick ass.

But three months of not writing much of anything is way too long, and it seems pretty clear that without some kind of public commitment, I’m not going to do very much.  I’m a bad person, and also lazy – let’s just slap the cards down, right?

Hmm, that did feel sort of good, a little honest self-assessment.  Because what I also am is a coward, and I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I spent all year last year writing right out in public, and for a variety of reasons – the daily time constraint being a major one – I managed to avoid any real honesty or vulnerability.  

Writing’s awfully personal, and for much of last year, I managed to avoid that aspect of it.  Posting every day became an excuse to avoid depth – I’d just screw around if I felt like it, and maybe get a laugh or two, but what I really do is write fiction.  That’s the stuff comes directly out of my soul, and that’s what I promised you, and most of the time, I didn’t deliver.

I managed to hide is what I managed to do, just like I always have.  Right out in the open, right there among my own smartass words.

And then when it was over, I sucked my head back in my shell and kept quiet – and what on earth could be more cowardly than that?

But a funny thing happened over the last three months.  My blog kept getting steady traffic, even though I wasn’t posting anything on it.  Even though it was just sitting there, and finally the other day I logged on and looked at all the comments, and I’m serious – I was almost moved to tears.

What?  I’m a sensitive motherfucker, don’t you judge me.

Anyway, check them out.  The last hundred or so comments are either regular readers saying, seriously, please Tom, start posting again.  Or they’re total strangers who found their way here one way or another, and took a minute to tell me, hey Tom, I don’t know who you are, but this one really affected me.  Hey Tom, thanks for this.  Tom, please, finish this homeless kid story – it’s cool.

And I had a little bit of an epiphany about what I really accomplished last year, and what I needed to do from here.  I realized that people out in the world, reading my stuff, being affected by it, internalizing it, talking to me about it – that’s been what I needed since I was ten years old.  And I got it – not mobs of them, but no, it’s not a bunch of crickets and silence, either. 

You guys are out there.  You’re listening.  And I’m letting you down, and I’m letting me down, and you don’t deserve that, and neither do I. 

Future Tom and Future You are just a couple of ideals.  The past is an immutable memory, nothing we should forget but nothing we can change.  And here we are, each of us. Surfing on a single moment across an endless sea of human choices, while the Universe blasts around us like a mystic hurricane in the gargantuan mind of the Almighty.

We’re living gods, and the choices are ours, and we rule the howling tempest – but only as long as we remember the truth about what we are. 

That’s this blog from now on – not a snarky conversation with my own future self, not a daily gimmick that grinds me down like a millstone.  I’ll make you laugh, cry, shake your head, whatever, but that’s my goal, to remind myself and anyone who wants reminding, of exactly how magnificent and timeless our lives really are.

The rules will be less rigid, but who cares?  Rules are things to kick around anyway.  Last year I promised you my soul and gave you a tee-shirt.  This year, there will be plenty of wiseassery, but all the shit I’ve been hiding is getting released from my undersea prisons, like biblical monsters in ancient cyclopean chains. 

You’re out there, however many of you there are.  You’re out there, and I can hear you, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me, even if there were only one of you, blinking at me from the other side of this screen.  I can’t tell you, no – but I can write for you.  Not for me or for Future Tom or for potential publishers or the Wizard of Oz – but I can do it for you, because you’re my reader, and I promise you, from now on, I will.

But watch what you wish for.  I’m going to ignore stats, ignore propriety, ignore publishers and the blogosphere, and I’m going to write like my soul depends on it, because it does.  I will blast down every wall in my brain for you, my friends, and you’re going to get a startling glimpse of exactly who the fuck I am, and if this rabbit hole has a bottom, I have never found it. You might not be crazy about me, the more you look around.

Doesn’t matter, cause it’s not a beauty pageant.  It’s Art, you crazy-ass, blog-reading motherscratchers, and The Curse of Future Tom is officially broken, so grab a beer and get comfy. 

I’m back, baby.

 

Day One

Future Tom, it’s time you and I had a talk.

Sure, I know.  We can’t do that, not face to face.  The universe would explode.  Sure.

And I know we’ve had our disagreements, our temporal quirks.  Sometimes I put cell phones and car keys in weird places, and I forget to tell you where.  Sometimes I agree to do horrible things, like go and see the Chipmunks sequel, and who has to deal with that? 

You do.  Just like hangovers; they’re your problem, not mine. 

But really, I don’t think you give me enough credit.  I mean, when I started running, and got up to four miles in a month, that was for you pal.  By definition, that was for you.  You were the one walking around ten pounds lighter, while I was back in time, playing with my belly.

But did you thank me?  No.  You thanked Kimya Dawson.  You thanked the Flobots.  You thanked Bill Gates for the iPod, even though I bought it for you.

Sometimes I’m so mad at you for things like that, I consume ten beers and a one pound cheeseburger called an Anvil – screw you. 

But that doesn’t help.  We’ve got to learn to communicate more effectively.

So let’s just say it:  You don’t like me, and I don’t like you.  Right?  I mean, let’s just put our cards on the table.  Okay?  And then figure out where we go from here.

It wasn’t always like this. 

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be you.  The first time I remember thinking about you, I believed that you would be an astronaut.  At the time, I thought being an astronaut was more about aliens and lasers, than math.  But it didn’t matter.  I thought Future Tom, The Astronaut was a perfectly reasonable guess.

Later, I started noticing our connection, the way I’d do something wrong, and you’d get in trouble.  But by the time that happened, I was you, and were you someone who would never do that again?  No, you weren’t.  You were the same jerk, scowling at me across time – like everything was MY fault.

I think the problem is, frankly, I’ve been giving you too much slack.  I’ve been too nice; it’s that simple. 

Remember when I was single, and I always made sure that I didn’t bog you down with obligations?  I wouldn’t even sign up for a car payment – for years – just because I thought it would stress you out. 

A car payment.  That would embarrass me, if someone thought I couldn’t handle a car payment, but you were fine with it.  Cool, you said, I’ll just dump this money down the toilet.

And dating – remember how I always made sure that no one could break up with you, by keeping us out of exclusive relationships all together?  Those were good times.  Lazy, shallow, and good.

Don’t even get me started on marriage.  That was all for you, pal.  You needed a wife and a child, because we’ve seen what it looks like when people like us grow old, alone.  Look in the mirror, pal – I did you a favor.  And what’s your favorite thing to do? 

Bitch about it, that’s what.  You’re such a prick.

Sure, and by then, it was clear you were never going to be an astronaut.  It was actually clear long before that – you just weren’t Air Force material, ever – but by then I had a different prediction.  Future Tom would be a writer, a famous one.  That was a relief, because I could sit down and write when I wanted to, and anyone could look at me and say, “Well, sure.  He sure looks like a writer, weird little dude.”

Which one of us didn’t do it, Future Tom?  Was it me, or was it you?

Well, we could sit here all day arguing about it, but the fact is, you’ve done some of the things I’ve asked of you, and there have been a lot more that you simply ignored.  And that has to stop, Future Tom.  The clock’s ticking.  Pretty soon your Future Kids are going to be wiping the corners of your mouth for you, and I could sit here hoping that you’ll become who you’re supposed to become by the time that happens.

But don’t believe the movies, chief.  Hope’s not going to do it.

No, what we need to do is what we’ve always been told we need to do, by anyone who has ever succeeded where we have failed.  Starting today, Future Tom, you need to write something, every single day.

And just to make sure you do it, I’m starting a new blog, where you’re going to do it publicly, no fewer than eight hundred words, fiction or non, on any topic you like. 

Every single day, Future Tom, for one year.  I can set it up and tell everyone you know what you are going to do, and if you stop, then you’ll never be able to act like you’re some kind of frustrated writer who can’t catch a break.  You’ll never be able to act like it’s my fault, or anyone else’s.  Forever and always, you’ll have to know deep in your heart, that you decided to be whatever you are, writer or not.

You’ve only very rarely become what I’ve told you to become, what I’ve said you’d become, what I’ve hoped you’d become.  I mean, sure, you’re not an idiot or a total screw up – that’s the horrifying nature of your subtle and timeless curse. 

You never do it, because I never make you, and that’s about to stop.  You’re going to become who I tell you to become, right here on these pages, in full view of anyone who cares to look. 

That’s how I’m  going to do it, old friend.  That’s how I’m going to break the Curse of Future Tom.

Now get to work.

 

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