05.10.12 Truth & Wisdom
The Great Unknown
BY Anne T. Donahue
UGH, THE FUTURE.
Nothing in the world is as exciting, terrifying or intimidating as that great, enormous, awaiting unknown, and nothing can (or will) instill every feeling from bravery to excitement to paralyzing self-doubt – feelings we are lucky to have.
It’s easy to look at the future and naval-gaze, to analyze and re-analyze life paths and directions and who we are and what we mean, and this feeling and that feeling and where it all fits in. Personally, I’ve done a terrific job of spending time (hours, weeks, months, years) on planning, wondering, thinking, feeling and reacting to situations when I could’ve resumed my life eons before and embraced the gift so many people are deprived of so quickly.
But it’s a process. Deciding to “boldly go in the direction of one’s dreams” is easier said than done, and most of us have trained ourselves to act last, ask questions first and quarter-life crisis in between. Of course, those processes can be important – but nothing is a guarantee.
The rug can be pulled out from under you in a heartbeat. When I was 22, my friends and I sat on a restaurant patio eating dinner before we went to the movies. It was summertime, it was beautiful out, and we heard a crash. One minute, three motorcyclists were riding down the highway in front of us – in the next, one had died. It happened in seconds, I never knew him and it’s not my grief to share in – but it’s those moments that jar you – for maybe only a minute – from your naval-gazing tendencies.
But we all naval-gaze. We’re human beings. We want to examine every possibility and have a concrete plan in place because everything is perfect when those exist, riiiight? (Of course not.) We sit and wonder, “What’s next?” when nothing is a guarantee. Tomorrow could be the day you win the lottery, or the night I spill soda all over my laptop. Your whole wide world might come tumbling down, and you’ll have to pick up the pieces and look that bleak, unforgiving future right in the face.
So let’s stop thinking of it like that. The future is a chance. It’s not an enemy. Yes, have goals and yes, make plans, but remember that if something gets switched or goes terribly awry, it’s going to be okay because when has it not? As one of my best friends likes to remind me, “When have you never gotten through something?” And I ask the same to you. If you’re reading this, you’ve obviously gotten to the other side of whatever the worst has been – it’s always worked out in some capacity.
Our nexts will change, our futures will expand and there’ll be times when we have absolutely no idea what do. But let’s take a break from over-examining (for once in our lives – especially me) and just live. Let’s look at our goals, and follow our dreams, but stop trying to solve the giant puzzle. It isn’t a puzzle. The great unknown is just that – great. So let’s at least have fun when we’re heading towards it.
Featured image by Gilleric Photography on Flickr