A couple of months ago, I posted a quote from MacBeth that included the phrase, “this ignorant present.” I posted it because, for some reason, the idea really struck a cord with me.
Everywhere I go, I am asked variations the same question, “What’s in store for next year?” When I was a senior in college, I was asked this question. When I was a senior in high school, I was asked this question. I think before every big transition I have been conditioned to receive this question with either evasive answers or a scattershot of ideas and possible directions. Rarely (besides the college acceptance) have I been the sort of person to have an answer. Now, because I am currently working in a one-year program, the questions about the future have sort of carried on right through college graduation and into this year.
And I’ve noticed two things about this process: 1. Questions about the future make me uncomfortable and 2. I find myself asking these sorts of questions all the time. And then I started to wonder if maybe we are sort of all collectively making each other feel uncomfortable or unsatisfied with the present. Am I simply hoisting my discomfort onto my friends by asking them the same question that I myself am tired of hearing? Often, rather than enjoy the present, I am thinking about the future and I find that this ignorant present doesn’t seem to deserve our time in the context of the grand future we are supposed to be planning for ourselves. I know that lots of times these questions are well-meaning (or maybe an attempt on my part to make casual conversation), but I’m tired of the question and I want to respect the present.
I want to appreciate the present.
I also intend to put in serious work getting to the next step of my life … and I understand that I will always need to prepare for the future. But maybe I’m telling myself this as much as anyone else: the present is what we have. Conversations about the future, regardless of their intent, seem a bit assuming. This is, after all, the human experience we’re talking about so no matter what answer I give you when you ask the question (you know you want to) it’s with the understanding that life is going to happen regardless of what I say. So at this point, that seems like the only legitimate answer about what the future holds in store.
And more life.
Great post, man!
I can’t tell you how much I’m with you on this one – I have been asked that so many times in regard to my plans.
“…..So, you’ve played around in China some. What are you REAL plans? What are you planning to actually do?”
……..”I’m going to teach in China for a year.”
“I mean after that. What is your plan for a real job?”
I don’t think anyone wants to be that guy who’s always looking back and the past and wishing that they had done more, so I think that’s why a lot of people ask…I can understand that, I suppose, but nobody wants to be put down because they are enjoying what they do now.
If they can make a little money out of it, put food on their table, and they find true fulfillment in it, why is anyone expecting more?
I think that a lot of people forget that “life is going to happen,” like you said, and that a huge part of life is change. Things change all the time, and we’ve got to be able to roll with it. We can’t plan out the next 15 years of our lives and then BOOM, something comes along and wrecks it, and suddenly, your whole life is in shambles. I’m not saying planning some stuff is a bad thing, but you can’t micro-manage everything that will ever happen to you. It just isn’t possible.
Anyway, I hope there was something valuable in there – I love the blog, man! Keep it up!