There are different ways to look at your future. (Of course, this isn’t about just your future but the future of everyone.)
The first way is to see it as an extension of your present existence, or some variation of this. This way of thinking answers the question, What are my probable futures? We see and understand and then project certain trends in our lives which lead us to expect or predict certain futures. This is our standard way of thinking about the future.
For these probable futures to happen, nothing must change, yet there’s nothing more certain than change. In a recent post I offered Nassim Taleb’s list of of volatility: uncertainty, variability, imperfect, incomplete knowledge, chance, chaos, volatility, disorder, entropy, time (because more time allows for more of everything on the list), the unknown, randomness, turmoil, stressors, errors, dispersion of outcomes, and, unknowledge.
The second way of looking at your future is to open your imagination to possible futures which might result from unexpected events: redundancy, a new treatment, a “Limitless” pill. I know many people don’t enjoy science fiction, but oftentimes sci-fi writers are trying to understand where Humanity is going, or understand the present through the lens of the future. Mad Max, Star Trek, Alien, Avatar, The Forbidden Planet are all takes on different Human futures. Now we’re opening our minds to the possibility of there being more to our futures, more than What You See Is All There Is.
A third way of looking at your future is to consider your preferred futures. Now you’re taking a lead because of who you are, the energy you have for certain things and not for others, the special skills you have – which don’t necessarily match up with the educational curriculum you went through or the role you have in work. The preferred future opens through your choice and creativity, and whilst it’s waiting for you, it is one lived in connection with others. It’s difficult to identify a brighter future and not attract, or be attracted to, others.
Albert Espinosa shares how he learnt to make a wish when he would blow out – such as when he would have an injection – he reckons he had more than one thousand of these: ‘all these wishes, all this blowing accumulates inside us and we have to let it out, we have to extract these desires.’ Between being more open to possible futures, and the choosing of our preferred futures, lies the need to share our dreams (wishes) with each other, to gently blow and be blown upon by the things people hope for and dream of. This not only fosters our own dreams, it makes it possible for us to collaborate in dreams, because the future is connected, it is with and not against.*
‘Most people think of the future as the end and
the present as the means whereas, in fact, the
present is the end and the future is the means.’**
(*Throughout this post I’ve dropped in words from Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire, alluding to three questions Alex asks of the future. I’ve also set this out in a way which recognises Otto Scharmer’s Theory U. I’m find myself increasingly using the imagining of the future to help people live more in the present.)
(**Late Harvard professor Fritz Roethlisberger, quoted in Surfing the Edge of Chaos.)
(Cartoon today: Check out Hugh MacLeod and gapingvoid: he’s why I started cartooning, and his writing’s not half bad: Evil Plans, Ignore Everybody, Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear – all highly recommended.)