Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life In Exile: The Future’s So Bright (but only because it will just never rain in the desert)

You know the problem with being human, right? The problem is the past is so much more vivid to us than the future. And we only nominally live in the present. In actuality, we are living in the present, thinking about past things we liked and projecting those things on the way the future should be. And since we are all Revisionist Historians, the past is way better or worse in our heads than it actually was, depending on your perspective. We are creating now what we imagined was so great about then for later. (“Who’s on first?” – if you understood that joke then you are either way old dude, or a totally cool/geeky film nerd).

Except somehow it just doesn’t seem to work. Because of this whole present, real time, you can only be where you are stuff (thanks a lot Eckhart Tolle!), things don’t get accomplished except if you are focusing on now, and that’s hard. The mind wanders. Being one with, say, filing, is slightly more difficult than being one with nature. OK, OK, they are both technically in the universe, but seriously. Dictation – running amongst the lilies? Folding laundry – dipping toes in the cool ocean. Which one is clearer? Number one – number two.

Maybe the real problem is getting older. Allow me to expound. When you are say, early 20s, you can spend a little time doing mundane tasks. I’m not saying you don’t gripe about it but you’ve got all the time in the world. And that’s the thing, it feels like you have all the time in the world. The future is out there, you can see it, clearly envision how it’s going to be! All you have to do is one-mundane-task-at-a-time your way to it! But then you get older. And not only is there less time left, but you have clearly become cynical. Yeah, right, you can power your way to positive thinking all you want but the fact is we all get jaded. It is as inevitable as thick hips, chin hair, monkey arms, you name it. Because you have done the ‘imagining your future’ thing and then you passed through it. And guess what? That future when you got there, was not like you imagined it a bit, if at all. But you can bet that later, when you are in the present thinking about the past, that future you imagined but didn’t work out like you had planned, will actually seem a lot better than it actually was. In retrospect. Or worse, if you are that sort.

How many of us have kids, raise you hands. Now tell me, is this just like the adorable, yet familial controlled chaos you (in movie fashion) imagined your family life would be? Who among us can say they made their 5 Year Plan and it turned out just that way, and it is swell!

See, I’ve made those 5 year plans. I’ve done the self-help-y, The Secret-y, Oprah-y thing and it doesn’t really work so much. You work towards a goal and when you get there, or to the marker point where ‘it’ is supposed to be, it’s not. Something else entirely is. The future looks bright when you can imagine good things happening to yourself without the Negative Nelly in your head going “Yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen”. After having been through a few decades worth of 5 year plans, and wandering around aimlessly in the desert, in my beautiful prison, and not getting pretty much anywhere I wanted to be in my career or my life in general, all the while accomplishing amazing feats, one wonders – is it even possible to imagine a reasonable future, an obtainable future? Is it even wise to try?

I could totally slip into a couple of icky platitudes here – hope for a miracle but plan for reality – learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow – think big but relish small pleasures (hmmmm, relish…) – but I hate platitudes. They’re all so quipy and cute and begging to be repeated and meaningful and stuff… Platitudes, so self aggrandizing… Maybe the thing is to just stop planning, be happy to wake up to a new day (and if you need sunny sunshine every day, day after bloody flipping relentlessly sunny day! - move to the desert), do what the hell you want, and stop watching Oprah… No, the money will not come if you follow your passion. The only thing that will happen is you will be looking at the ass-end of your passion…

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