Future Unknowns

Posted on Jun 14, 2016 in Self-Help

With an unknown future it’s easy to get caught in complaint.

“Grr… i’m frustrated because i just don’t know…
• What is my career going to be?
• When is the construction on our house going to be complete?
• Am i going to have children?
• Will i find a life partner? where?
• Am i going to find suitable land to purchase?
• What am i going to do when i retire?
• Who will my community be when i move?
• Will this project be successful?
• Which school is going to accept my application?
• When will my immigration visa process be complete?
• Am i going to ever fully recover from this illness?
• When will i be financially independent?
• Will i find my passion? when?”

The thought is that, “I don’t know BLANK. I just don’t know and i want to know and if i only had the answer it would make this moment better.”

But, is there ever pause to appreciate the gift that is the mystery? Aside from the thrilling magic of it all, on a practical level, it’s actually quite helpful to not know one’s future. the truth is, whatever’s next in the timeline is yet to be revealed simply because there is nothing to do about it now.

Think about if you really did know what the future held — you knew all the todos and happenings lined up for your life — it would be entirely too much!

Imagine this…
You open your inbox and see there are three new messages.

• One is from your friend who is asking a question and would like an answer by Tuesday.
• The next is from your colleague who’d like more information on something. he is needing a response by Wednesday.
• The last is from your sister. She is looking for your opinion and is requesting to hear back from you by Thursday.

A typical reaction would be small-scale overwhelm. “Woah, woah, woah. alright, this is a little too much to handle all at once. I’ve got to prioritize here. I’m not going to touch the Thursday deadline message, or even the Wednesday one right now. I’m just going to focus my efforts on the Tuesday one. I’ll do what I need to do to finish that right now. Really, I almost wish I didn’t know about those other two because having them in the back of my mind is just distracting… It would be a lot easier if they’d only appear in my inbox when they were relevant – the current format is just cluttering my mailbox.

It may seem as though the guessing you’re doing about your future is distracting enough right now — being granted a guaranteed outline of what’s to come might sound like a welcomed reprieve. However, in reality this wouldn’t be so. The fantastical thoughts you have about the future, though endless in their variety, all remain ethereal. Because you really don’t know how things will play out, these ideas are kept as equally possible as impossible. They drift as thoughts with little substance. conversely, if you were granted the knowledge of all your assured future happenings, though it would be finite, those notions would hold a different constitution. Their certainty would give them weight; and their details, texture. All these intricacies would muddle the mind as they’re be more details than one could know what to do with.

Imagine this…
You settle into the car for a week long road trip and switch on the navigational system. today you are heading to a friend’s new house located in a part of town you’ve never visited. you merge onto the highway and begin the cruise. the sky is cloudy, traffic is steady and as you make your way out of familiar territory you listen up for the nav’s next aural instruction. a number of exit signs pass you by and curiosity begins to grow. “where am i going?” finally the nav system pipes up.

▸ “Take exit 429 on the right.”
   “Great, thank you.”

▸ “Then, turn left onto woodlawn and follow it for 5 miles. Next, make a left onto church street. Stay on it for 0.7 miles, then, turn right onto brant. Follow brant for 1.2 miles. Make a right onto university…”
   Cars wiz past and you’re having trouble making your way across the highway lanes in order to get off at the 429 exit.

▸ “Keep on university for 0.8 miles. make a left onto king street. keep right…
   A motorcycle races out of your blindspot, swerving in-between you and another vehicle.

▸ “In 24 miles take a right onto cherry st. continue for a mile…”
   There is a transport truck in the next lane who is getting a little too close for comfort.

▸ “In 44 miles… in 52 miles… in 58 miles…”

You haven’t yet been able to reach your first exit and the nav system continues to distract you with instruction. You become agitated. “No no no! Why is this device revealing directions that are multiple steps ahead of my current location? I can’t act on those until i arrive there anyway. I need only to focus on what is taking place right now. Knowing the details about these future steps is not only unnecessary, but confusing – all it does is divert my attention from what i need to do to take care of myself in this moment.”

The universe’s current system is set up in your favor. With pleasure or pain, not being granted the full knowledge of what lies ahead is always in your best interest.

Coming upon that panoramic view of the nature reserve is more beautiful if you don’t see it in the guide book first. The punchline in that movie is funnier if you don’t hear it in the trailer first.

There have been times in my life, I’ll poetically name as “shit storms.” In retrospect i am glad to have not known of their existence on my horizon. If i had known that much pain and confusion and anxiety were around the corner, that suffering would’ve only leaked into the present in the form of fretful anticipation. It would have taken away from the enjoyment and education I was receiving during those times leading up to the storm. There was nothing more for me to be doing during those times than what i was already doing by being present to the feelings and teachings of my day-to-day. Really there is no sidestepping the future, so there is no useful application of it’s whatabouts.

 

Similarly…
I can recall a number of instances as a child where my doctors required me to take a flu shot. The times where i was told in advance, I would only agonize about the upcoming clinic visit, Friday at 4pm. The two seconds of pain had swollen into a prior week’s worth of anticipation. The times i was told the day of, I would again allow the experience to swell. The many hours leading up to it I’d be walking around with a visceral chagrin.

In both cases, the mere two seconds of actual physical pain had dilated in the shadow cast by the unnecessary introduction of their future “knownness.” Funny to me because if i had the chance to experience the feeling of the injection in isolation — say, if i had happened upon a sensation akin to that of a needle prick, and in a scenario where i could have avoided the anticipation of it (if i was bit by a bug for instance, or if i had brushed past a spiky tree during a nature walk) — it would likely go unnoticed. In the least, it would be much easier to handle.

It is a gift not to have all of the answers in this moment – to have the space of now kept as clutter-free as one can allow.

Ultimately, not being distracted by the future’s details will mean more ease in in experiencing whatever is currently happening around & within oneself. The perfection is that – what you are experiencing right now is your personalized primer for what is to come. So, the best thing you can do to prepare for the future is to fully immerse yourself in the training that is this moment.

The best thing you can do is trust that you always have sufficient information. You’ll always know just enough to make the next step.
• I know it’s not daytime but your vehicle’s headlights will show you just enough of your surrounding area to maintain your safety, to keep you going. (really, if you had the whole road in illumination, it’d be superfluous. you’d still only be able to drive it one meter at a time!)
• I know you don’t have the whole loaf, but follow the bread crumbs. each bite will be satisfaction enough until the next one. (really, even if you had the whole loaf, you’d only be able to eat it one bite at a time anyway!)

 

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