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.