One Life, More Futures, No Regrets

The benefits of getting older.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD


Photo courtesy of author

I woke up suddenly — slightly agitated and palms sweating — realizing I had forgotten my tie. The plane was about to land, it was late, and the shops would almost certainly be closed. I had to give my presentation early the following morning. And presenting without a tie? That was impossible.

Don’t ask me how I knew. I just did — call it foresight or intuition. But there was definitely no tie in my bag.

I felt hopeless and couldn’t believe how stupid I was. The way you feel when you lose something important or make a silly mistake. If only I could turn back time. And put things right — and pack the damn tie.

I had prepared for the presentation for weeks and knew making a good impression was crucial. My future depended on it, as a successful performance could lead to new opportunities to present my research.

Or so I imagined at the time.

The Hand of Fate

I heard someone calling my name when I got off the plane and was making my way to the luggage carousel, grumbling to myself about the tie situation.

“Hey, Erik!”

It was another conference participant.

“It’s great to see you again! How are you and your wife doing?”

I ignored his question.

“Do you have a spare tie?”

And, as I left the airport, I was in possession of a garish red horse racing silk tie. Definitely not my first choice, but at least it complemented my dark blue suit. Or so I thought.

I took a taxi to the conference hotel and sang along to a popular song playing on the radio.

Where have you been?

All my life? All my life?

The following day, I felt energized. I woke up, showered, and was ready. I checked myself in the mirror, and the tie was almost perfect.

Before heading to breakfast, I decided to review my presentation again.

That Was Then, This Is Now

My wife pointed out recently that it has been over a decade since the tie incident.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.