22 | female | uk

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Existentialist Meandering

There’s something to be said about the future. It is pretty much impossible to know what it’ll have in store for anyone, yet we constantly make plans for it, mapping out footholds for us to hold on to. “I’ll meet so-and-so then, I’m going there on that day, I need to get ready for this thing coming up at that time”But our knowledge of the future can only be imagined and our plans and footholds are literally just figments of our imagination, until they happen. If they happen. We buy tickets for things and literally invest in the future, and we’re guided by our future to some extent, informed of how to live right now in the present by what we’ve got coming up.

Plans are necessary and fundamental to human life, even if we can’t know for certain if they’ll happen the way we imagine them to happen. I don’t think we would even be human if we couldn’t plan, we’d be creatures of survival only, permanently in a state of present being. Perhaps awareness of time – past, present, future – is really the basis of what separates our way of life from a hippopotamus, say. We collect our history, we build on where we have come; we (try to) live in the present; we plan for and apprehend the future. In fact I think our “present” is only understood when we place ourselves in a framework of past and future times. Being isolated to the actual now, to this very very moment, would be an impossible way to live for any prolonged length of time. I’m not saying let’s all abandon the now and hold onto our past and live for the future, that would be an equally destructive way of living I think, but just that, our present self is utterly a part of our past self and also our imagined future self.

Where do you see yourself in your mind’s eye, one or two or ten years down the road? 

The further into the future I think, the more far-fetched things become, purely because my imagination goes into overdrive and there is no fucking way of knowing where you’ll be in 2022. So the part of the brain you use to imagine, is the same part of the brain you use to plan for the future, right? Maybe. I have no idea. But it seems that way. Anyway what I’m getting at is the future, in your mind, is nothing but thoughts. So. Why do we plan?

For me and I think for probably everyone, planning gives me feelings of security and moving forwardness. It’s nice to feel like you’re going somewhere, actively striding into the unknown. Plans help you along with living, they’re like lamps shedding a little bit of light on an otherwise dark and unwalked path, guiding you through the vast whirlwind of innumerable various ways your life could go. I dream of future things I want to do and future places I want to go, and these ideas are not solid plans by any means, just dreams. But in a way, what’s the difference? If you dream of doing something, you’re still imagining it, still thinking of your future the only way you can. So in theory, you can plan for whatever it is you dream of.

I think people differentiate between dreams and plans by terms of realism. Like, oh they’re only my dreams (ie. what I’d ideally love to do in life) – it’s unrealistic, it’ll never happen, it’s just my imagination. Plans on the other hand seem more grounded, realistic, doable. But if you’re not dreaming of becoming a dragon slayer or a self-styled God founding life on mars or a multi-multi–multi-gazillionair living in a palace made of gold, I don’t see why dreams are any less grounded, realist and doable than plans.

So basically, I don’t know, I’m trying to just reassure myself that my (and your) dreams are not far-fetched. They’re not, I know they’re doable. If I live my life with my dreams in mind I hope that I can make them happen. I should point out that my life dreams aren’t based too far into the future, but maybe a year or two or three or four down the line. I don’t know. But for example, I dream of moving to continental Europe, either Paris or Amsterdam. So last week I started teaching myself French (with Michel Thomas language CDs, they’re absolutely brilliant) and I love it, I love it so much. I’ve never thought I could speak another language, I never did it at school, but it’s suddenly accesible to me and I’m actively doing it. I feel like, what’s to fucking stop me from moving to Paris if that’s what I want? Learning the language is just a step, a little step, in that direction.

So I dream of living in Paris, and owning a cat, and doing big paintings in my apartment; of being even just a little bit bi-lingual; of writing; of eventually earning money by means of a job I love and enjoy; of being open to new things and new people; of making genuine, honest and like-minded friends.

Hopefully that’s not too far-fetched but I don’t think it is, I think it’s doable. And it feels good to be doing things for myself – things I do enjoy right now, in the present, such as drawing or learning French, but which also nourish my future self too. And I think if one really looks inside, like really look at what you love and enjoy, then there should be nothing stopping you from doing it, from planning for it, from exploring it to the best of your abilities.