Sunday, 20 October 2013

Future shock

I have what you might call future-phobia*. I'm nervous about the future and what it might bring. I don't have that optimistic horizon that most people possess.

Where other people assume the future will bring something better than they have right now, that life is essentially a matter of onwards and upwards, my imagination runs riot with all manner of unpleasant possibilities.

I'll run out of money; I'll go senile; I'll get some dreadful illness; the house will fall down; I'll live to 100, by which time I'll be a brainless vegetable; I'll die alone and not be found for weeks; I'll turn into a crazy eccentric, shouting at people in buses; I'll be dumped in some vile care home; and so on and so forth.

Why do I have these gloomy (and extremely unlikely) scenarios? Why don't I assume the exact opposite,a happy and healthy old age in which nothing very nasty happens and I enjoy all the things I enjoy right now?

After all, the future, by definition, is largely unknowable. Anything could happen, and there are sure to be plenty of surprises and odd quirks of fate. Good luck is just as likely as bad luck, and to dwell on the second is irrational and perverse.

But then, as we all know, humans are irrational creatures and trying to banish the irrational from our psyches is no easy task. I can tell myself over and over that my fears are unbalanced, that I'm looking at things from a lop-sided perspective, but the fears defy my earnest logic.

No doubt in twenty years' time, if I'm still on this planet, I'll laugh at all the absurd fears of my earlier years and wonder how on earth I imagined such grim turns of event. And then I'll have a chocolate biscuit and a nice cup of tea.

* It's very common but there doesn't seem to be a technical name for it. Secret Agent Woman, any ideas?


  1. I try and focus on the present Nick. My nightmares since I was small show me a post-apocalyptic world and I'm certain this will happen in my lifetime. so vivid and always the same.

    So, on good days, I stay where my hands are and revel in the moments of precious life.

    Yes, worry is a complete waste of time as we are never truly present.


  2. www: Oh, I try and focus on the present as well, but my mind has other ideas! Strangely, I don't think much about a possible apocalypse (climate-change or otherwise), my fears are usually strictly personal ones.

  3. Nick, I have seen so many people taken away from their worries, that I no longer subscribe to that club.

    Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),
    I hope I'll be round to see
    The future has lined out for me,
    Que Sera, Sera.

  4. Yes, very strange. I think perhaps though that we should have a certain respect for the Fates. Maybe that is at the root of this feeling.

  5. I generally don't worry about the future, except for the C-word.

  6. Grannymar: Well, I'd like to think all my worries will prove groundless, but they persist nonetheless!

    Jenny: Ah, maybe I don't have enough respect for the Fates. I want to be in control of my life at all times!

    Bijoux: Lucky you! And what's the C-word? Climate? That's certainly something worth worrying about....

  7. Only two certainties in life my dear.

    And when your mind wanders into worrying, perhaps if you stop yourself and focus on something else...something more fun in the present...those thoughts won't persist.

    After all, worrying is a bit like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere.

    I'm sure you can find something better to do.

  8. Cancer, though I guess with the loss of the ozone layer, cancer and climate go hand in hand :(

  9. Rosemarie: Oh, I'm a terrible worrier. I've tried all sorts of antidotes but they don't work for long! If only I was as unflappable as Jenny....

    Not really like a rocking chair - a rocking chair is much more fun than worrying!

    Bijoux: Oh, that C. Funnily enough, cancer doesn't often cross my mind....

  10. When I look back at the amount of time I wasted on worrying - and the misery it brought me - and realise that here I am at 60 and still healthy - in spite of my earlier fears, I laugh - but only because I now take a pill that has my irrational fears under control. Maybe you should, Nick?

  11. Liz: Yes, I know you've mentioned your "happy pills" a few times. The thing is that I'm not very keen on pill-taking, especially if they might lead to long-term addiction. And I'm very used to my worrying tendency so I guess I don't feel any desperate need to get rid of it. On the other hand, the older I am, the less long-term addiction really matters....

  12. Go with the flow.I intend to live long enough to drive my kids mad. As long as I wake up each morning I figure things can only improve!!

  13. Bonsaimum: That's a good way of looking at it. And if I live long enough, not having any kids, maybe I can have fun driving the neighbours mad.

  14. You can take satisfaction from one indisputable fact. There are millions of others with exactly the same worries.

    Apart from that, from a guy who does not worry, I have nothing to offer Nick. This phobia, morbid as it is, is for all purposes incurable I am told. This is why all the Gurus have such big followings! At least they offer succour in the hereafter.

  15. Ramana: Wow, all these people who never worry! I'm green with envy! I can imagine that if I ever reach the hereafter (if it exists), I shall continue to worry - about the future of the hereafter.

  16. nick, control over one's life is a total illusion, a mirage. the sooner you give up all notion of control, the sooner life will become an adventure.

  17. Kylie: Good point. Maybe that's what I'm doing, trying to control my life too much. Though I know perfectly well the future is unknowable so trying to control it is pretty futile. And it's okay, my life is still an adventure, despite the intermittent worrying!