Fifty years from now, you’ll have no idea what you were doing at this point in your life. For that matter, five years from now you won’t know. You can look back, and you may be able to say where you were when, but you won’t really know why. It’s not conceivable the reason you are in the moment you’re in unless you are actually in it. :
That said, the bias of hindsight enters in everything we do. Everything that happens does so for a reason, and those reasons are not always evident when the event occurs. Most of the time they are invisible well before the event as well.
But if you were to somehow be able to make it so that you were having hindsight as you were going about your routine- that you were able to have the benefit of having created no new knowledge about an event simply by it’s having occurred- would everything not get so dreadfully predictable? There would never be anything that was unexpected. If I take an object and drop it, I am reasonably well assured it would fall to the floor because I have seen it happen so many times that I have just added it to my working knowledge- it never leaves the desk in my mind. Its carved there. The writing on the tabula rasa isn’t chalk, it’s scars. They are permanent.
It is only because of erosion that these thoughts exist. Every time something happens, the nail gets one hit from the hammer. Some nails stick out more than others, but some nails are so firmly pounded in that the hammer has knocked down the area around the head of the nail in order to create room to further move it downward. That hammer hits several times daily for something like gravity, but for some things you’ve got to find a way to get the nail to start going into the board in the first place. You have to hold it firmly with your fingers and have good enough aim to not hit your thumb, hurting yourself and making you feel a bit foolish.
“I should’ve seen that coming,” you say. Aiming at something you hold between your fingers is the same as aiming at your fingers. So, indeed, you should have known that.
But you didn’t, otherwise it would not have happened, and you would not have noticed it- the strike of the hammer that hits your thumb is remembered far more than the other number of hammer strikes you would make. So you should have seen it coming, and in fact, you did. You’re seeing it right now, and you’re avoiding it. I know that if I bang my head against the wall it will be painful. I am therefore actively not doing that. If I spill my drink, however, I would think that I should have seen it coming.
And if I did always see it coming, things would be so homogenized that I would be eternally jaded, left with no room to bargain or be anything different. Fifty years from now I have no idea where I’ll be. I don’t even know where I’ll be in five years, just as I didn’t know where I would be now five years ago. Of course I didn’t know physically, but I am a wholly different person now than I was five years ago. And I will be more different five years from now.
I look around me and I see everyone desperately trying to make something happen, trying to find something to grab and sink their teeth into, something that is not simply temporal. It seems that everyone I know is looking for a job, even those who are employed; most of the people I know are either unemployed or are loathe to go to work. People take extreme lengths to avoid working. Or pretty much anything.
What are you doing?
What am I doing?
Are we actually going somewhere, or are we riding a ship to a shore that is not ever coming, sails and motor be damned? What do we do when we get there? Stop? Is it about the journey or the destination?
These are the sort of thoughts that run through my head and keep me from thinking about minute things. It keeps me from worrying unnecessarily to think that nothing will matter. Note that I say ‘nothing will matter’ and not ‘nothing matters.’ What I mean here is that most of what we do at any given time is inconsequential at some point down the road, so it’s best to focus on it while it’s happening because it’s happening now, however long ‘now’ may be.
So what are we afraid of?
There’s the issue of security. We want to be safe down the road, we want to have direction, have a set place to be, have something holding us together, have something to devote our lives to. If people spend enough time *not* devoting their lives to doing something, they lose all drive to do anything.
And then there’s the people who just get swept up in the wind as it blows through the halls. Everything becomes a maelstrom, always something to do, always stressed, never a single moment to rest and have a moment of clarity. They tumble about and then one day see that so many days, or weeks, or months, or years have gone to waste, that all they’ve done to occupy their time is occupy their time.
So from one extreme to the other, either not caring at all or caring too much, the person ends up burning out. They either become accustomed to having no drive or their drive wears them out. It’s another of life’s little grey zones, as they all seem to be. The Safe Zone. Moderation.
Work now, play later, but constantly work to make play and work the same thing so that you won’t dread going to work. Study Subject X in school, graduate with a degree in it, then end up selling insurance. End up in real estate. End up working on cars. End up doing any number of things, only a handful of which are within your “field.” What if you change your mind?
What if you don’t?
The point of the ride isn’t to get to the end. Certainly you’ll want to settle yourself at one point and put some roots in the ground, but at the same time, it’s important to not get stopped along the way. There’s boulders in the road. You can sit down by them and stop walking. You can sleep in the shade, rest your bones for the night. You can try pushing them. You can knock on them, or climb them, run around them, blow them up, whatever you want. Or you can walk past them.
The space between them is small. If you started pushing one boulder and you got it far enough, eventually you’d come up to another one in your path. Do you try to push both? Do you leave one and push the other? If so, which one do you push?
And then the whole thing collapses like a house made of cards.
Falling to the floor, shuffled up and nonsensical, while the wind blows from the door of the house to the back wall, flipping some cards others and leaving some to become, eventually, just another piece of dust.