Thursday, 23 May 2019

What lies ahead

Some people like the "what if" game that involves changing the past. What if I had done this instead of that? What if I'd been more adventur-ous? But I prefer the other "what if" game that involves changing the future.

I dislike the constant uncertainty about the future and what it might bring. I dislike not knowing if my decisions will be successful or disastrous. I dislike constantly having to "wait and see".

Just think how helpful it would be if I could see into the future and adjust my plans accordingly. Nagging apprehension would be replaced by confident looking-forward. Badly-informed guesswork would be replaced by tangible facts. Life would be a lot easier. For example:

If I knew when I was going to die, I could make sure my affairs were in order, that Jenny knew all my passwords, had full access to our bank accounts, knew where to find important documents and so forth.

If I knew the country was going to be taken over by an oppressive political regime, we could up sticks and move to a more enlightened country.

If someone planning to start a business knew it would collapse with huge debts in five years' time, they could scrap their plans and do something different.

If someone knew their marriage would end in failure, they could call off the marriage and start looking for a new partner.

Of course some people would hate to know the future. They enjoy the uncertainty and surprise and the challenge of facing something totally unexpected that forces them to make big changes and reassess their life.

They relish all the speculation and prediction. They love imagining the umpteen possibilities and how likely and unlikely they may be. They're happy to accept good luck and bad luck, ups and downs, whatever life sends them.

Not me. The more certainty the better.

PS: It occurs to me that knowing what the future will bring could mean I worry more rather than less. If I knew for instance there would be a nuclear war in ten years' time, I would be worrying about how to prepare for it, how to survive it etc, whereas if I didn't know, there would be nothing to worry about.

23 comments:

helen devries said...

If only one could predict what governments are going to do it would make life easier...

Rummuser said...

Our election results are just out and a lot of what if questions are doing the rounds in the social media. I am sitting back and enjoying the discomfort the results have caused to the so called Liberal Mafia.

Bijoux said...

I actually don't think most people would do anything different. I mean, we all know we're going to die, but how many of us change our lifestyles or do important things like update wills, etc.? I often hear people respond with excuses like they don't have the time, or it's too much work.

Wisewebwoman said...

I don't think it would be helpful at all Nick. And I don't feel at odds and uncertain most of the time. Climate change has me most concerned along with political terror. And terror it is. But there is nothing I can do even if I know of the next week's atrocity or assault on women's rights.

I try and stay, as a dear friend once advocated, to stay where my hands are and ensure my loved ones know of passwords and bank accounts.

XO
WWW

nick said...

Helen: It certainly would. Especially with the current British government, which introduces regressive new measures virtually overnight.

Ramana: I'm not familiar with the details of Indian politics, but I gather it was a big electoral upset that defied all the predictions.

nick said...

Bijoux: True, some people would carry on just the same even if they knew of impending disaster. But Jenny and I updated our wills just a few months ago!

www: I was thinking of personal events rather than social ones. No, there's little we can do about some imminent terrorist atrocity, but we could adjust our lives in the light of imminent death or serious illness.

Linda Sand said...

One thing about us buying into a Continuing Care Retirement Community is we absolutely know where we will live the rest of our lives--either here in this apartment or down the hall in the nursing facility. The only decision left is about when to make that move if we are even capable of making that decision when the time comes or if someone else has to make it for us.

CheerfulMonk said...

"If I knew when I was going to die, I could make sure my affairs were in order, that Jenny knew all my passwords, had full access to our bank accounts, knew where to find important documents and so forth."

I was surprised at this. We could die anytime, so why wouldn't we plan ahead in these areas? It would be silly not to. It sounds like you do the financial stuff? One big change for us this past year is I do ours now.

I decided years ago the best way to prepare for the future is to practice resiliency. No complaining about all the changes happening in the world, work on being resourceful instead. And enjoy the changes we like.

nick said...

Linda: You definitely have certainty about where you'll be living for the next few years. I hope to be living in this house for the rest of my life, however long that will be, but fate may have other ideas....

Jean: Yes, I handle all the financial stuff. Jenny doesn't want to know until such time as she actually needs to know. But supposing I just drop dead from a heart attack? Mind you, our finances aren't that complex, I expect she could take them over quite easily.

I agree, resilience is a useful resource in a sudden crisis.

Joanne Noragon said...

Yes, certainty is the best scenario. Damn the forces that upset it.

nick said...

Joanne: A person after my own heart! Uncertainty does me no good whatever.

Ms Scarlet said...

For some reason this post has really stressed me out!! Good heavens, live in the present, it's easier.
Meanwhile, have you been watching Years and Years? It's really good.
Sx

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: Sorry about that! Is it really easier living in the present? Even if you're suddenly faced with some huge disaster?

I watched the first episode of Years and Years and found it rather incoherent. But Jenny has said the second episode was excellent and I should keep watching.

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: I watched the second episode. It was entertaining but I didn't think there was anything very original apart from the blink, which was a great idea.

So what did I say that stressed you out?

Ms Scarlet said...

Ha Ha! I started pondering if I'd die before the end of the day! Who knows?!! So best not to ponder.
Years and years is entertaining, I think the characters are well written.
Sx

chloe said...

What a tortured mind you got. Life is an adventure. A mindful living, day after day is all we need. People drive themselves crazy in wondering what may happen in the future. The only real important thing is the climate change..

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: Goodness me, you mustn't think about death - stop that immediately. And don't start worrying about looming bank crashes either....

Chloe: A tortured mind indeed. The result of my dysfunctional childhood unfortunately. Lots of things are important, but climate breakdown is probably top of the list. I hope there's huge support for the international strike planned for September 20.

Jenny Woolf said...

I've sometimes thought about this but come to the conclusion that the way things are isn't any better than if I did see into the future. It's about 50-50 either way.

nick said...

Jenny: Agreed. Living in the present can be pretty difficult, even if you like the uncertainty.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Even with my current situation, I don't worry a lot about the what-ifs. No one gets a crystal ball and focusing too much on the future possibilities prevents me from living in the now. (That said, I'm pretty frugal and I have a will!)

nick said...

Agent: I don't spend much time contemplating future possibilities either. But I think it would helpful if I had some idea what's going to happen five or ten years down the line.

Joared said...

I welcome certainty in some aspects of my life — or as close as I can get to it within the risk parameters of my preference for independent living and choices. So, I remain living in place in my home rather than relinquishing some decision processes required if I chose retirement community living arrangements offering all levels of care. It would be nice to know how this choice will work out, but I don’t fret about it one way or another, anticipating the best, but also recognizing the worst case scenario — believing that should the latter occur, when I’m still in my right mind, that I'll adapt and if my mind is gone I won’t know or care. We plan as best we can, then life happens — there are no guarantees — except, we will die sooner or later, one way or another.

nick said...

Joared: That's all we can do really - make what seem to be the best decisions at the time and then hope things work out the way we expected. If they don't, then adaptability is the name of the game. And how right you are that if our mind is gone, we won't know or care what happens to us anyway.