Tuesday, May 10, 2011

no handle on the future

Funny how, with the evidence staring you in the face, anyone might continue to insist on a conclusion that was not warranted. That's one of the definitions of insanity, isn't it -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

In California, former actor and governor Arnold Schwarzengger and the wife with whom he had four children, Maria Shriver, have announced they would separate after 25 years of marriage. The pair issued a statement of their intentions that was as seamless and calm as the circumstances must have been tattered and confusing.

Shriver was quoted as saying on a Youtube video:

It’s so stressful to not know what you’re doing next. People ask you what are you doing and then they can’t believe that you don’t know what you’re doing.
The statement is as human and direct and touching as anything I have seen or heard recently. Which of us has not faced similar evidence over and over again in our lives? The habit is endlessly strong -- I know what I'm doing and where I am going and therefore I am at ease. But the facts are otherwise ... when put to the test, I simply cannot see into the future, I cannot assure what I am doing my damnedest to assure. Since my friends and family and even my enemies are in thrall to a similar insistent habit, the stressfulness of the habit mounts. What's the matter with me that I don't know what I'm doing next? Everyone else seems to know ... how come I don't?

I guess the fortunate are the ones who gather the strength or insight to believe and act on the evidence that is right in front of their noses. It's OK to plan and plan well; it's OK to act and act well; but there is confusion where success and failure enter -- where "I did it" makes its assertions. Yes, things work out more or less as planned, but it's the "more or less" that deserves attention. The plain fact, endlessly reasserted, is that no one can see into the future and getting in tune requires a reassessment and revision of assumptions. Curling up in a ball of helplessness works no better than asserting control. Making a fetish out of "I don't know" or "don't-know mind" is a dubious proposition.

Which is more stressful -- imagining you could know what's happening next or imagining you couldn't?

But bit by bit, I think it is possible to find some enjoyment in it all: Imagine -- if you actually could know what was going to happen next, how boring would that be?

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