Prompt 035: Knowing My Own Future
35. If you saw far into your own future, how would it change the way you live your life and why? How would your knowledge affect the people around you?
I remember reading a short story by John W. Campbell - the guy who wrote "Who Goes There?", the story that inspired John Carpenter's "The Thing" - that dealt with the notion of a trio of friends who could divine their futures with a device. I remember it being a kind of radio-like machine, with dials and knobs the three friends would manipulate to determine their various futures. There would be diagrams revealed, kind of like branching paths of a flowchart, representing the various paths their future would take. I also recall that one of the three somewhat dreaded their future, since their branchings and pathways were relatively short compared to those of his fellows. Another of the three obsessed over seeing into his future, staying awake and alone with the machine for days, diagramming all the possible outcomes to his future and how to approach the most effective one.
It's curious to think of my future as "mappable" or otherwise perceptable in that way. I wonder if I would end up like one of those two friends in the story. One was living in constant fear and anxiety, knowing that their end was nigh. The other was obsessed with "maximizing" his own future, meticulously optimizing every decision to be made along the way.
Given the choice, of course, I would prefer the latter option. Although draining and a stressful encounter, it would be worth all the anguish in the end if I were certain my future would turn out optimal. I think life itself, for the average person, is fraught with anxiety, simply because the future is unknown and unwritten, and there's no way for us to figure it out beforehand (though we may feel it possible to predict it). I also think that spending two days in solitude, solely focused on plotting out your future would be an excellent opportunity (if somewhat odd). It's paying it forward to your future self: something a lot of people who focus on "instant gratification" never seem to want to do.
Imagine if there was a way to plot out your own future. More interestingly: what if it were required to be done as part of an assignment in school, like you wouldn't receive your high school diploma without submitting a fully-complete "future report and portfolio" as part of your final exam?
This also reminds me of a recent speech I watched, referenced in a recent Goal Reflection. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke on his rules for success. The first was to "have a vision." Have clarity on what you want in your future, and where you want to be later in life. The upshot of this is that you can instantly tell - no matter what you are doing - whether or not you are moving closer or further away from your ideal future. To know if what you are doing right now is helping you or hindering you... Like, articulating my thoughts at this very moment: are they moving me closer to the future that I want, or are they sabotaging me: encouraging me to shoulder more obligations, pressures, and stresses in the pursuit of an "ideal life"?
If anything, being able to see one's future - mundane or magnificent, long or brutally short - would at least provide certainty in an uncertain world.