Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
– Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121 AD – 180 AD)
Many people fear the future, mostly because it’s unknown and they fear that which is not familiar to them. Anything unknown, they learned somewhere, should be feared, or at least faced with apprehension.
Some look with trepidation to the future because they see the present being so much worse than the past they knew and are concerned that the conditions of today will only get worse in the future. (“I wouldn’t want to have to raise kids today.”)
What they fail to realize is that in their younger years they were relatively ignorant of the conditions of the world of their time. As we get older we gain a broader perspective of many things in life, whereas when we are younger we focus more on our immediate present.
This condition even exists with vision, where younger people can focus better on specific objects in the distance, but not so well the whole scene, whereas older people can take in a larger picture and assess the overall conditions better but may not be able to see specifics as easily. For example, kids can find Waldo in the Where’s Waldo puzzles far easier than older adults.
A few people don’t want to think about the future because they imagine that it will bring more of the pain they have suffered in the past and they are not certain they can tolerate any more. Those people may not consider the good parts of their past, thus see little possibility of a balance between good and bad in their future. The good was there, but they allow the bad to overwhelm them, so they believe the future will be equally as bad.
The future is neither good nor bad, not any more so than the past. We tend to remember that which impacts our emotions most, especially the negative emotions, and forget (most of the time) the good times we experienced. Our memories of good experiences may not be as vivid as those of the bad ones. At least not until we have lived long enough to be able to look back more than 40 years into our own past.
Life is filled with good times and bad times. We may miss some of the good times because we spend so much time focussing on our problems while not appreciating what we have that is valuable. Often, for example, we don’t consider how fortunate we are to have people who love us, though many people in the world have no one who cares deeply for them. Love is a treasure beyond compare. Though it doesn’t pay the bills, it’s far more valuable than the money that does. If we appreciate it. If not, love is wasted.
Life really is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. There’s nothing fair about it. Life being fair is a misconception we were taught as young children, often when we were expected to share something tasty or a toy with siblings. (“Be fair and share.”) Life, in general, is not fair.
We have no right to expect that life should be fair because no other life form on earth experiences fairness in life. For most of us, just surviving after we have made grievous mistakes or terrible errors of judgment gives us a huge advantage over other animals who would have become lunch for a predator for making the same degree of mistake.
The future will be as good as we want it to be, as good as we expect it to be. Or as bad. In general, life for us humans is improving. You don’t have to study much history to discover that life in the past–any part of the past–was much worse, much riskier, shorter and with fewer benefits than life today. In western countries alone people live twice as long as the average life span of their grandparents’ generation.
Almost everyone forgets one thing about the unknown aspect of the future. It doesn’t remain unknown. And it doesn’t remain the future. We only ever get to experience it as the present.
Considering how many bad experiences you’ve had in the past and weathered them, you can expect that you will do as well in the future. Maybe better, as you have more experience that should allow you to make fewer mistakes thus generate fewer downturns in your life.
And you have the good times to look forward to.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about arming children with the knowledge and skills they require to live healthy and positive lives, as opposed to the lives of many troubled adults of today.
Learn more at http://billallin.com