Five years ago, I bought myself a bottle of mouthwash. It wasn’t one which I was planning to use once my current bottle of mouthwash was finished though – oh no. This bottle of mouth wash was going to be stored in a backpack and kept (along with some clothes and other necessities) at the house of a couple of friends. They lived in Bath and I lived in Corsham, so this would be a good set of supplies (or a DeTamble box, as an old friend would have said) for the off chance that I might miss the last bus home and end up needing to make an unplanned overnight stay.

In five years, this never happened – which, I suppose, says something about my ability to catch buses on time. However, my friends who were holding my supplies are now moving away from Bath and so it no longer makes sense for me to keep an emergency supply at their house. The other day, they gave it back (along with a generous amount of things they didn’t want anymore) and I took it home. It was quite convenient too, as I needed some mouthwash.

The next day, as I was rinsing my mouth with the mouthwash, a thought occurred to me. When my last mouthwash ran out, who would have thought that actions I took five years earlier would end up solving that problem? Likewise, when I bought that mouthwash, I could not have fathomed the life I’d be leading when I finally opened it: I’d no longer be working alongside one of the two friends who were holding it for me, in fact, I’d have had six different jobs since then, I’d now be living in Bath and I’d be living with a friend who, at that point in time, I didn’t really see that often (plus, of course, there was an unprecedented global pandemic). It’s nice to think about the ways in which the past influences the present and the present influences the future, both in obvious ways like this, but also subtle ways we might not realise…

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