I allow my mind to wander while in the shower, and like many, I come away with “shower thoughts”. For example, do other people perceive colors as I do? Boiling water makes eggs hard but pasta soft and Jello neither. How does a “Do Not Touch” sign work in braille? Most importantly, why didn’t Lorraine recognize Marty from her past once he became a teen?

Yes, I’m referring to Marty McFly and his mother Lorraine in the movie “Back to the Future.” As you probably recall, Marty is thrown back to 1955 and finds himself in a most peculiar situation. His would-be mother, Lorraine, rescues him after being struck by a car. He awakes to find himself in Lorraine’s bed. She thinks his name is Calvin Klien because it’s written on his tighty whities. But here’s where the shower thought comes in. Wouldn’t his mother, Lorraine, immediately put two and two together the moment she saw that famous Times Square Calvin Klien ad featuring the same underwear on Mark Wahlberg? She never once thought, “Gosh… this kid I’m raising sure looks an awful lot like that boy in high school I had a crush on that suddenly disappeared”. This is a gigantic hole in the plot that I think was a missed opportunity by the screenwriters.

If only we could go back in time and mention that to them. But if we could go back in time we would be practically paralyzed out of fear of harming the future. We would likely avoid stepping on a plant or insect out of fear that within that fragile biology resides a cure for a disease. And yet we often visit the past in our minds without considering the consequences of doing so. In those endless ruminations, we don’t step on rare plants or insects; we step on landmines. Over and over. We replay the same stories in our minds expecting the ending to be different, but it’s always the same. You know you can’t change your future by living in your memories. While you’re living in the present there are no good reasons not to try to change your future. I urge you to let go of the past. Think of the actions you take in the present as a duty to your future self. Perhaps if you try, your future self will tell you, “well done!”

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.