December 10, 2008

If You Could See The Future Would You Want To

In the midst of all of the current chaos I have heard a number of people say that they wish that they could see the future. It is kind of a nice dream. It sounds like the sort of thing that would be useful. It is a practical skill. See the future and you can be sure that you'll always make the right decisions. At least that is the theory.

There was a time in my life that I used to be one of those people who wanted to know what was going to happen. I'd like to say that it was because I wanted to plan ahead. I'd like to say that it was because I wanted to stay a step ahead of the game. Those were certainly part of the reasons why I wanted that particular skill at that particular time.

But the rules of the blog dictate brutal honesty so I have to acknowledge that it was also because I was a 20 year-old kid who was heartbroken. A relationship had ended and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. Friends who tried to console me told me all sorts of good stories. I heard about their breakups and why they thought that splitting up had been a blessing in disguise.

The reasons varied. Sometimes it was because they led to new opportunities and sometimes it was because the couple had to have time apart so that they could grow and then come back together. But the common theme there was that splitting up was ultimately a good thing. There were one or two exceptions. I heard from a couple of people who said that breaking up had been the worst thing ever. I remember telling one of my friends that he should never consider being a therapist. I think that I said something to the effect of "you'd be the guy who handed the suicidal patient a gun."

Anyhoo, I was like so many other people. I just wanted to know what was going to happen. Would the struggle be worth it. Was it going to lead to some incredible experience or relationship. Was the end really the beginning of something new. I remember looking up at the sky and saying that I was ready for the door to open. It was in reference to that line about one door closes and another opens.

If you ask me today if I'd like to be able to see the future I am not so sure that I would want to. I don't really want to know when I am going to die. Sure you could make an argument that if we knew when we were going to die we'd live our lives differently. I already try to do that. I try not to make excuses to do certain things because you don't know when the end is coming. Still, I don't want to know the exact date. It is more interesting to me to wonder if I have another 200 years.

I am curious to see what sort of people my children are going to grow up to be. I wonder what sort of careers they'll have and what they'll be like. I wonder what my own life will look like in five years. What about ten or twenty or fifty years. What kinds of memories will I have. Will I have lived the life I wanted to live.

Foresight would be nice. It'd be useful to have some sense of things. I'd probably find it easier to relax. I wouldn't worry about going bankrupt or dying of some dread disease because I'd already know about it and be prepared.

I am no different than anyone else. If I could change the past there are some things that I would have done differently. There are jobs that I wouldn't have taken and relationships that never would have been. But I can't help but wonder what I might have missed out upon. There are so many interconnected threads. If I don't follow one path I'd never hit the fork in the road that led me to the other one that gave me that great whatever.

So I think that I am kind of glad that I can't see the future. While I appreciate the thought of not suffering through some of the struggles in the same way I come back to the appreciation of surprises. I can't and won't say that they are all good, but there is something nice about not knowing. The uncertainty has its own rewards.

I suppose that it all helps to explain why sometimes I like to gamble and take a risk here and there.

What do you think?


nursemyra said...

Not if my future was more or less the same as my present.

the only thing that keeps me going since Stephen died is the hope that I won't feel this bad for the rest of my life

Jack said...

Things usually improve, at least I always tell myself that. If I didn't believe it life would be awfully black at times.

shavuatov said...

No way do I want to know what the future will be like.