First off, I just want to say that I never really intended for this blog to be as much about my personal life as it’s become. But such is life, I guess. I keep telling myself that my next post will be about something else. Perhaps there’s just been a lot for me to ponder lately.
In any case, today I want to talk about letting go of something you hope for, in exchange for the hope for something unknown.
Freedom is close to the top of my list of things I value. But I’m not talking about the kind of raw independence that you see championed so often in the US: the desire to be able to do whatever one wants with no regard for consequences or external factors guiding choices made. I’m talking about real freedom. I think it’s something that you can really only find in your mind. It’s the ability to look out in front of you while you’re standing in the present, and see everything out there as future, as opportunity, but most importantly as unknown.
So often we plan and plan and plan, and hope, and try to control outcomes. And after so much hoping and fretting and plotting, you look out in front of you, and suddenly chunks of the future are already the past in your mind. Those plans and scenarios, conditions and contingencies, they start to restrict what you see. The options you see start to diminish, or mutate so that they can fit into this predetermined future-past.
I’m perhaps the most guilty of doing this to myself of everyone I know. It’s because I’m systematic, I like to plan, I like to judge my decisions based on predictable consequences. In my head I tell myself it’s my duty to myself and others to make informed decisions.
I didn’t think I’d manage to do this, but I’m going to work in video games to my explanation here, of the effects of all of this. Have any of you played World of Goo? Ok, for those who haven’t, you string these little goo guys together to try to build structures, but you have to be careful that they don’t warp or topple over (see Exhibit A). All this planning is just like that. The more you build up, the greater the stress that the whole thing will collapse, and the more restricted the options for your next move become.
Last night I tore down one of these gooey, future-past structures that I had been building for a while. And I won’t lie, it feels really sad. I said goodbye to a future me that I thought already existed out there somewhere. But it doesn’t compare at all to the burden that feels lifted. The past is back where it belongs and the future’s out there somewhere. And I maintain my faith that no matter how good my imagination or planning skills may be, I can’t imagine or plan anything as wonderful as what the future will reveal.
I’m going to take us out with Zee Avi, who besides having a beautiful voice, wrote an album of songs that very accurately describes my past 18 months. I highly recommend checking it out.