Even though the future is unknown, we often talk through potential options like a chess game, hoping we can influence our fates. While our discussions often bury us in details that lead to debate and argument, on the whole, we engage in the banter when we feel backed into a corner in life and need to figure out what to do to make things better. I think we assume that talking through options will reduce our anxiety for the unknown.
I know we are not alone, its human nature to future trip. It also makes good sense to examine potential options if you know your present path is going to change. At the same time, living in the future means forgoing the now, which paradoxically most often leads to more anxiety, not less!
What complicates the matter even more is that we often base our discussions of the future on what has happened in the past. The well-known phrase history repeats itself one reason why we venture back in time and examine our past decisions. We hope to glean some lessons that allow us to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
As I get older I question more and more the role of time in our lives. Clearly, part of what makes the human experience interesting is how life can be broken into past, present and future time blocks. But why is it this way? What are we to learn from the linear unfolding of time? The mystic’s sage advice is to embrace the now, yet I know being human means coming to terms with our past and future selves.
In the end, I really don’t know how much we can influence the future, nor how much value there is in ruminating about the past. I do agree there is a lot of value in living in the now, but perhaps the life lesson is that we must find a way to embrace all aspects of time – past, present and future – at the same time.