While I write nonfiction, I love reading a good novel. Last month I was lucky enough to read The Five Times I Met Myself by James (Jim) Rubart. I was totally intrigued.
I invited James to join us today because I think that the topic of his book is something many deal with that can cause a lot of brokenness: regret.
In The Five Times I Met Myself, Brock is a successful business man whose business is suddenly tanking. His marriage is also shaky. He finds a way to go back and talk to his much younger self and to ask him to change one decision five times. Each result isn’t always what he thinks they will be.
What might happen if we could change our past? Would we be the person we are today if we didn’t make the choices (or mistakes) of our past? It’s an interesting thought. Let’s meet Jim! ~ Suzie
Q: In your novel, Brock was given a chance to meet his younger self. What would you say to your younger self, Jim?
Jim: Wow, you’re not trying to make me get vulnerable, are you? Such a great question. There are many things I’d say, but I’ll mention just three for the moment. I’d tell myself to take more risks — that you’re never ready to take them, so just “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down” (Ray Bradbury).
I’d also tell myself to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks: about you, your dreams, your life, who you should be or shouldn’t be. Worrying can be such a deterrent from living a life of freedom. Finally, I’d tell myself this life is shorter than you can imagine when you’re young, so live like it.
Q: Much of Brock’s validation in life has come from his work. Do you think that’s common?
Jim: We are tempted to look outside ourselves for validation: money, friends, accomplishments, success, awards, children, spouses.
We search for validation in many things other than God that will never fill us in the end. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had, it wasn’t to crash the guy’s party. Jesus simply knew if the guy hung onto to any of his things (in his heart), it would ultimately drain him of all true life.
Q: Is the kind of hope and restoration many are looking for possible without actually being able to go back and change something from the past?
Jim: Without question. Life is short. If you believe this is all there is, then I understand why people would despair.
However, I’m one of those who believe in an afterlife, where Jesus says all things will become new. He doesn’t say all new things. This is important. He says all things new. All things. All those moments of pain and longing and regret will be made NEW.
A good new. A tremendous new. Restored.
Redeemed. Made right.
Jesus came to restore that which was lost. I think there’s going to be a lot of celebrating of the things that will be restored in the coming kingdom. As for the present? There’s no point in looking back. It’s gone. But we can start living each day, this day, this moment, with hope and a determination to change our actions, to make choices that bring life to ourselves and those around us and to step into freedom in a way we never have before.
Q: I’m asking this just because I’m fascinated by this. Describe for us your secret writing room, where you wrote The Five Times I Met Myself.
Jim: My wife and I recently moved, and I had to give up my writing room! We lived in a house built in the late 80s when the style was to have a 20-foot ceiling in the entryway with a chandelier hanging down. Picture an elevator shaft going up to the second floor of our house when you first walk in. I always thought all you’d have to do is build a floor to get a secret room. The walls, ceiling, and even a window were already in. So I did it. The room was accessed through the back of my youngest son’s closet. You stepped through a little door into our attic, and about ten feet into the attic, you stepped through another small door that led into the writing room.
I have a photo of it on my website: https://jameslrubart.com/about.
Turns out the folks who bought our house are James L. Rubart readers, so they could truly appreciate the secret room. On top of that, they’re aspiring writers themselves. It’s fun to know the legacy of writing in that secret room will continue.
Q: What message do you hope readers to walk away with from The Five Times I Met Myself?
Jim: I believe there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell our younger selves what we should have done differently, whether we’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 years old. We wonder how our lives would have turned out if we’d made different choices.
And we want hope and restoration and freedom in the midst of examining those choices we did or did not make.
I wanted to explore those questions and give readers the chance to search through those questions in their own lives. By the end of the novel I want to offer hope and restoration for the choices they would or wouldn’t have made if they had the opportunity to do things over.
Andy Andrews describes the book as being life-changing. That’s exactly my hope: that people’s lives would be changed after reading The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ve had people say my books are not fluffy reading, that they stick with people months and years afterward. I hope that’s true. I want my stories to seep into people’s minds and, more importantly, their hearts and help them step into greater freedom for a long, long time.
To keep up with James L. Rubart, visit www.jameslrubart.com. You can also follow him on Facebook (JamesLRubart) or on Twitter (@jameslrubart).
Jim has offered to send one lucky person a copy of his novel, The Five Times I Met Myself. Just share one thing you wish you could tell your younger self to enter!