Saturday, 14 March 2015

Give us a clue

I don't like uncert-ainty. Or at least not the type of uncertainty that significantly affects my life. It makes me feel too vulnerable, too adrift.

Some people thrive on uncertainty. For them, the more of it the better. They love having absolutely no idea what the future will bring and what fate's going to throw at them. They find it exciting, stimulating, challenging.

I don't feel that at all. I would feel a lot more secure and confident if I knew what's in store for me. How much money I'll have, whether I'll get a serious illness, when I'm going to die, whether I'll lose my mind.

If I knew all that, at least I could plan my life a bit better, allow for disasters or triumphs, create a smoother path for myself. I wouldn't be suddenly overwhelmed by some unexpected catastrophe and be left floundering.

Small uncertainties, those that have no major effect on my life one way or the other, don't bother me. What the weather's going to do, whether I can get a vegetarian sandwich, whether my new jeans will run in the wash - those I can deal with. It's the big uncertainties, the potentially life-changing uncertainties, that freak me out.

It's curious that I'm so bothered by uncertainty this late in life, when my future is relatively short. When I was young and my future stretched ahead of me indefinitely like Route 66, the much greater uncertainty didn't phase me at all. I just sailed along blithely, unheeding of what the next day would bring.

How did this strange quirk come about, I wonder?

20 comments:

Helen Devries said...

I would like a bit more uncertainty in some areas of my life....like cooking something I would like for lunch rather than having eager husband presenting me with his choice.....but in the major areas of life as I get older I could do with not having to worry about changes which impact on my income and savings as I now have more limited ways of trying to make up any shortfall.
Violent currency changes, retrospective taxation, increased difficulty in moving my money around...all this i could live without.

Nick said...

Helen: We Brits have very little certainty when it comes to our state pension. The amount has been steadily whittled away over the decades, and what will happen to it in the future is anyone's guess.

If you've been well-off enough to afford a private pension, the value of that has also been whittled away by arbitrary revaluations, management fees etc.

So it's not surprising that many oldies are worried about their finances.

Bijoux said...

It's interesting what you said at the end, about not worrying about the future when you are young. I'm guessing most of us are like you in that way.

susie said...

I think I like it. Maybe I don't. Maybe I do. I'm not sure...

Nick said...

Bijoux: I don't really know whether young people as a whole worry about the future or whether they just take life as it comes. I would have thought that now many of them are loaded with tuition-fee debts and low-salary jobs, they'd be worrying about the future more than our generation did.

Nick said...

Susie: That's a definite maybe then?

Cheerful Monk said...

I worried a lot more when I was younger. I finally made the decision I wasn't going to waste my life worrying. Andy and I were both savers, which helped, and I also focused on developing skills/personal growth, figuring that working on making myself stronger and more resilient was the best use of my time.

I agree it would be a lot harder if I had to worry about retirement. Now it looks as if our bodies are going a lot faster that our finances.

Secret Agent Woman said...

When I was working on my doctoral degree, a professor told me that one of the functions of grad school is to teach you to tolerate ambiguity. Well you know what? I STILL don't like ambiguity.

Nick said...

Jean: You seem to be in the fortunate position of having plenty of cash and not having any financial worries. And I agree, one way of fending off worry is to make yourself more resilient to life's twists and turns.

Agent: Is uncertainty the same as ambiguity? I guess it is. But I don't mind ambiguity unless it involves something that has a major implication for my life and my future. Then it's very disturbing.

Mike said...

I try to deal with the uncertainty of the future as best as I can. For example, our pension income wasn't quite enough to keep from dipping into savings, so I'm back working, as a contractor, at my old job.

Interestingly, Route 66 was removed from the US Highway System in 1985 after it was replaced in its entirety by the Interstate Highway System. Portions have been designated a scenic byway under the name "Historic Route 66." Other sections have been adopted by several states and have been designated as State Route 66. I traveled a good portion of it's route by bus in 1972, between Oklahoma City and California.

Nick said...

Mike: I think a lot of oldies here are in the same situation. Their income isn't what they expected so they're going back to work to make up the difference. The number of older workers has risen dramatically.

Interstate Highway System doesn't have the same romantic ring as Route 66, does it? Can you still get your kicks on the IHS?

Mike said...

The Interstate System is generally pretty boring. It bypasses most towns and small cities. Even in the larger cities, it allows travelers to go straight through without stopping. We've traveled portions of the system from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

I travel on one segment about 3 miles on my way to work. The title of my blog, Exit78, is derived from where I get off the interstate on my way to work.

kylie said...

my life becomes less and less certain every minute but i've mostly stopped worrying about it. whats that quote? worry never robs tomorrow of it's sorrow, it only saps today of it's joy

they say that if most of us knew our futures we couldnt cope with the knowledge and i suspect that is true

Wisewebwoman said...

nothing is certain, is it? Pensions, mental/physical health all unknowns when projected into the future.
I mean, I still have to work to make ends meet and I'm way beyond retirement age. But I comfort myself by saying "at least it's not Walmart and it's not every day".
My bad fall has shown me I can't even plan a day ahead, truly.
I'll die a pauper. And the majority of us do.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Mike: I guess they missed a trick there. They could have made it especially scenic and attracted lots more tourists to it.

Kylie: Yes, I know that quote, but it doesn't stop the uncertainty bugging me! And you might be right about knowing the future being too much to handle.

Nick said...

www: If you have some choice in what work you do, and you enjoy it, then why not carry on working? I have no plans to retire as yet, I've always enjoyed working.

No idea if I'll die a pauper. I might inherit money, I might die relatively young, it's all in the lap of the gods.

John Gray said...

I dont think you are more certain about things when younger
I just think that you dont THINK
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE.

Nick said...

John: That makes perfect sense. I guess a lot of young people are too busy making the most of the present to even contemplate the future. Especially old age, which seems so far off as to be totally unreal.

Rummuser said...

We Indians are brainwashed from childhood into accepting that life is uncertain and to expect the unexpected. The British influenced education system could not really eradicate that value system and so, we live from moment to moment and are perceived to be believers in fate who live placid lives.

You might like to explore that way of living!

Nick said...

Ramana: Yes, perhaps I should try that line of thought!