The Draw of Tomorrow

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” -Mark Twain

Science fiction is an underrated genre. Morality and myth, blended with speculative technologies, can create wonders, monsters and hypothetical futures that are mind-expanding and transformative. As a creative endeavor, it’s as good a way as any to take a guess at what a distant tomorrow holds in store for us.

There can be a lot of value in investigating what the future might bring – be that for an artist, a stock broker, or a calendar publisher. But fortune telling is not something that I do in my professional capacity as a clairvoyant, because the future is unknowable.

Not able to be known.

In as much as I may perceive about what’s going on now or what happened in the past, I do not believe that there are any predestined outcomes for any of us. It’s as simple as that. The danger is in the pretense that we do know how things will play out.

Even Newtonian physics – with it’s mathematically proven laws of motion, is subject to all sorts of subtitles – wind resistance, dark matter, gravitational fields. Even if we have all the data, know where every ball in-play is at right now, chance will still have its final say. In accepting this, in letting go of responsibility to control outcome, we can find peace of mind. We can own an essential, human limitation: we only have access to Now.

The moment we become hung up on mental projections of what’s to come, we’ve lost two things: The place where we are now, and our neutrality about what’s possible. The brain has to put the projection somewhere. Does it put it in the same file as “things that have actually already happened?” If thought-energy has been projected, then on some level, it becomes a memory. Though it might be tagged by the mind as only “something that might happen,” there’s still a memory movie of that experience.

I can imagine the frustration and tedium of sitting in a hard plastic chair in a crowded room at the DMV next week, or the joy I’ll feel as the first aromatic drops of the first Monsoon rain fall on my shoulders. But you never know. What if I ran into a long lost friend at the DMV and it turns into a happy and rewarding trip .. or a mosquito bites me right when those drops of rain start coming down. It seems to me it’s a best practice to leave experience in it’s proper setting: the moment that it happens. Otherwise, we create a dissonance between what’s actually occurring and expectation.

Imagination is great gift: we need it because it’s the engine of our creativity and opportunity. We need to be able to visualize all the things we’d like to create, and even silly things that we know are impossible. But when we use this gift to project expectations, fears, and limitations into a future scenario, then it can become a destructive and corrosive force on our dreams. The dress rehearsal can destroy the authenticity of the performance.

So if I imagine trying something new – but out of unconscious habit tag on an expectation of failure at the end of that attempt, then my heart may feel the visceral loss of having failed, and attract that experience to myself. If you have a fear of flying and allow your mind -and subsequently your body – to conjure the shakes and rattles of turbulence beforehand, then by the time you get on the plane the first leg has already happened – and it was a terrible flight!

We become accustomed to emotions. But perhaps it’s more profitable to be acclimated to staying present then to grasping at any given feeling. Being attached to a future fixation, be it positive or negative, interrupts the natural flow. It kicks up the stream of creation and splashes hypothetical nonsense all over the place. The stream flows at a constant speed of: Present Time. If we want to ride along in the flow, we must obey the speed and heading of the Flow of Present Time.

If we examine it more closely, Time defies thought. On it’s surface, Time seems a knowable quantity. An atomic clock is doing it’s half-life thing at the most accurate and predictable intervals of any interval making thing that we know about. And yet the “time” that those ticks and tocks are measuring out has an ineffable quality.

A second hand measures out 1/60th of a watch face every… second. It’s a circular thing. Isn’t there an infinite quantity of something within that thing we’re calling a “second?” Some days seem to last a week, and others feel like they’re over before they’ve started: As an experience, Time is a mutable entity.

We know this because Time plays fast and loose with respect to consciousness. Is our relationship to a minute based off of how many times our hearts pump in 60 seconds, how many breaths we take? According to our propensity to look at our watch? If somebody tells you they’ll “be done in a second” we know that this could mean any amount of time whatsoever… except of course, one second! Nobody can agree on what that means in a quantitative sense. But in the same way, how we choose to situate ourselves relative to the passing of events is our own personal construct of the qualitative truth about Time. Perhaps the question ought to be: is my relationship with Time practical or not?

Many of us use this construct to make ourselves worry. If we hold fast to Present Time, then worry is impossible, because everything that’s possible is happening now. If something hasn’t happened yet, then there is no certitude that it ever will… or won’t. There are no sure things and no foregone conclusions. But when thought energy is lost in future thought, it’s a sure thing that opportunities will be missed.

I suspect that people seek out fortune telling to try and gain some measure of safety and security. Who would not desire the insurance of knowing that this or that action will bear the results we’d prefer, rather than the ones we fear. But to pursue this certitude is to chase a chimera. The point is – much of the energy we need to get the job done is lost in the chase. To maintain our power, we must stay present.

When we lose our connection with the present, we are flying on autopilot. Though it may feel familiar and comfortable, autopilot can’t chart a course and it can’t adjust to change. And most of all, being detached from the present numbs our awareness.

Futurism can be a practical and wondrous endeavor for some: philosophers, statisticians, bookies. But for those of us who would release the places in our life where we live out a fiction and avoid loving ourselves by means of belittling and diminishing the present, being engrossed by the future is a self-defeating pursuit. By all means, it is wise to schedule, plan, and work-out the details in order to achieve goals. But let the experience of all that you create hit you like a wave. Wake up to it fresh and alive in each passing moment!

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