Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Would You Like to Know the Future?


Twenty-five years ago I was lying in hospital room in Santa Monica, California, with my brand-new baby daughter.
It was stunning. I’d never thought about becoming a mother. Wasn’t in my cards, I thought. Yet here was a perfectly formed little human being, looking with those deeply concentrating eyes into my own as if I were some wonderful sight. I held her, she was mine, we were a new team. I had a great career. Now I had a baby daughter. Ah. How…?

Now I’m thankful I couldn’t see into the future. When I say that, I picture being told the events that would transpire in the next 25 years. What if someone had told me what would happen in my future when I was 25, like my daughter is now? This will happen, that will happen. Just the events only; not my inner life, not my emotional state.

It might look something like this: Your marriage will fail. Your father will die soon. Your child’s father will give you the boot. You’ll spend years alone. You’ll become an alcoholic. You’ll go on the wagon, marry a truck driver, get the boot from a wonderful job. You’ll live through a massive earthquake. Your best friend will die. Then your next best friend too. Your mother will get Alzheimer’s and lose everything in her mind, and then she’ll die. You’ll get pneumonia, and then…

Hey! What happened to “happily ever after”? The trouble with just knowing the events is that they don’t explain what happens inside you when they happen to you. The litany of stuff sounds frightening. If I had known what my future held, I might have simply adopted a dog and hidden from life.

But the events came and I adapted. Not knowing what lay ahead, I just kept getting up every morning. Hard times mellowed out. Good times came. They didn’t look eventful and probably wouldn’t have made the list of milestones. “You’ll go to the mountains and make snow angels with your daughter and laugh your head off and remember it for the rest of your life.” Would a crystal ball have told me that? “Many times you’ll look at your life and thank God for everything.” Would it have told me that?

I don’t want to know the future. I’ve heard it said that with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you piss on the present. I like the present just fine. I imagine that I’ll be equipped, I’ll find the inner resources and outer resources to cope, when whatever lies ahead comes to pass, just as I have in the past. The worst happens, you think, and it doesn’t kill you. It does seem to make you stronger.

I like the photo I used for this post. As a marching band came up the street toward me at a Christmas light parade last weekend, I opened the shutter of my camera and exposed the picture until they marched past me. To me, the photo captures what the future looks like as it arrives: something beautiful, if you look at it in the right light.

17 comments:

Alan Burnett said...

Yes I think you might be right. Life with perfect knowledge of what is to come is, in many cases, life without hope. Give me ignorance - and hope -any day.

Birdie said...

Chris, I love it! I love it! I love it!!!! Thank you for this beautiful post, it has made my day!!!! No, I don't want to know my future. ANd if I would have know what was going to happen so far I would have never find the strength to go through all of this. I would have given up already. But as you said, not knowing is what gets us going in a way :-) have a wonderful day!!! hugs!

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

That memory, the snow angels in the mountains and laughter! Beautiful!!!

Dianne said...

hey what a great philosophy, and happy birthday to your daughter.

by facing our fears do we really live. Eleanor Roosevelt

this is a season of light for me, I hope I don't get burned.
Di

Rachel Fox said...

A lot said in a small post!
x

TechnoBabe said...

Nice writing. Like you, I would not want to know the future. Living in the present and being aware and awake is pretty new for me anyway, so heck, living in the present means I am not hiding from life. That is a rockin' photo. I am not very good with a camera so I don't understand how you did that, but it great.

Georgina Dollface said...

Such insight and so true for me right now. The other day I was stuck in traffic. I was about to start a whiny conversation in my head about it when I realized that as ordinary and mundane as this moment seemed, it still marked a point in time passed a dark period or some other crisis that I probably never thought I'd get through. Every moment I had ever lived before had brought me to that present moment. So how could it not be an exceptional moment? - G

The Bug said...

Sometimes I think I would like to have known SELECT things ahead of time. Like if I had known that I was going to get arthritis in my hip perhaps I would have worked harder to stay at my goal weight the first time. I don't know though - I might have just been fatalistic about it.

big Jenn said...

It's doesn't change a thing even when you DO know the future. ;)Jen

Patricia said...

Very thought-provoking post and timely, I think. Somehow this time of year, with holidays and expectations also triggers nostalgia and regrets. Like a dog pulling on its leash my mind wants to go in both directions. Sometimes it takes discipline to watch the parade go down the street. Thank you.

Monkey Man said...

All we have is the present, but funny how so many of us wish for a brighter past. Great post, Chris.

Kim A. said...

I wrote today on holiday and winter blues and I think we both are on the same coin on different sides. I understand completely what you say. I got pictures of my birth grandchildren yesterday. Three little spirits that are the result of a very tough time in my life and a decision made. I am awed by the tapestry that the Universe weaves for me expressed as my path here. It is beautiful, like your pic.

♥namaste♥

Gerry Snape said...

Great post! I absolutely agree with you about life. If we knew what was to be we might not be!

Marion said...

I love this post. I don't want to know the future; I'd rather have hope. I'll deal with the bad stuff when it happens...if I don't know tough stuff is coming, I won't worry about it!

I think it's beautiful the way lives work out. I love this sentence..."with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you piss on the present." I've heard it before and I find it so apropos!

Syd said...

I am happy in the present too. I don't want to know the future. Just ODAT is okay for me.

Magpie said...

I'm so glad you shared your wonderful perspective with us. I, for one, gleaned a lot from it. You're wise beyond your years.
Happy Birthday, to your dear daughter.

Marla said...

Such a good post. I have such a hard time living in the present. I will remember this and try to live in the now...for my sake.

Albert Einstein Quotes