“Click here to change preferences or unsubscribe from emails”

I’ve been thinking about what it would mean if I could unsubscribe from my life, if we all could. A minor irritation–me getting tired of so many commercial emails–inspired an orgy of unsubscribing. CVS, Lucky Vitamin, Afloral, Overstock–gone. Classmates? Getouttahere! Bye bye Karen Kane, Lululemon, Fresh Produce, and all Facebook notifications (surprise me when I get there). Amazon? Let’s not get crazy. Amazon and I have a deep relationship that includes prime, audible, and me as a reviewer they’ve never published. I don’t know what it is but I always get rejected for inappropriate material. I swear that I don’t–swear in my reviews, that is. I think this repression of my First Amendment rights drove me to become a Trip Advisor reviewer. Imagine how thrilled, I (an aspiring writer) was to discover I’m in the top 10% of reviewers! In my town. I didn’t read the fine print until I had received a couple of congratulatory emails. I’m getting ready to unsubscribe from Trip Advisor/Big Brother because they bug me for reviews any time I search restaurants or hotels online…. Also I don’t like the way they show me a map of the earth with pins where I’ve written a review: I don’t seem to have gone many places.

Back to this notion of unsubscribing. I realized that we subscribe throughout our lives to different versions of ourselves. Always, when I read Stephen King ( a master of evoking eras), I am slammed back into vivid memories from my childhood or adolescence and then there I am, the person I was. So here’s my question. Can I unsubscribe from certain versions of myself? Can I reduce contact with my current self to–say–once a month and increase my preferences for some of those other selves? What would it look like if the hope and energy of my early 30’s informed my choices today? I don’t mean I would act like I’m younger; I don’t think I mean that. (Although I would have a hard time resisting the time machine that let me change a few past decisions.) What I think I mean is that layers of memories could be peeled away. Traumatic, sad, disturbing memories, regretted decisions, and uneasy reflections on past actions would be part of me, of course, but they would be controlled by my preferences. Just like I can control how often Classmates sends me blurry pictures of people I can’t remember ever seeing, I could set up mental preferences that would let me decide how often I need to feel the inchoate fear of nothingness (death) that increased with retirement but has made guest appearance throughout my life. I could prefer to weekly memories of the actor/director and set up daily visits from my 5 year old self. Maybe then I could re-learn the Spanish I knew fluently at that age.

Here’s the deal: life or time, if you will, moves at a snail’s pace when you’re waiting to be tall enough to reach the kitchen faucet so you can get your own drink of water. It drags through high school when you’re struggling to figure out your place and whirs through college when you realize that place is fluid and largely irrelevant. It freezes ugly moments, giving them an unshakable solemnity and rushes sweet moments past savoring.

I would subscribe to several selves: one would be the person who, at various times in my life, has connected profoundly with nature and the indisputable God. (I would like to hear from her every day.) I would keep the confident teacher close by and unsubscribe completely from Bleak Christmas Erin and Prozac Barbie. Actually that last one is a joke, sort of, but the depression I’ve periodically experienced could happily go to the unsubscribed nether world, never to return. I would love to access The Writer more often but I’m pretty sure that’s an issue of discipline. Maybe what I really want is a strong subscription to creativity. That sounds good–I’ll do that. The irony of the fact that I haven’t posted a blog in quite awhile does not escape me…
I wish I could say I’ve been working on my novel but it’s more like I’ve been rereading and over-writing the 90 pages I’ve already written. I would actually have to access my liar self (junior high) to say I’m making progress and no one wants to see her again.

Today I’m subscribing to the just-publish-it when-you-write-it self. She’s new.