“My future is in my past and my past is my present. I must now make the present my future.” Vladimir Horowitz
When I was younger I was a voracious reader. I loved fiction, especially suspense, adventure, fantasy, the thriller genres which made you bite your nails in excitement, stay up way longer than you should, keep thinking of when you can get back to reading and leave you dreaming up scenarios of what would happen.
I remember one time sitting up till 5 AM reading ‘The Far Pavilions’ and groaning in misery that I had to get ready for work in 2 hours. And yet, the book pursued me – my thoughts in office drifting to the trials of Ashton Pelham-Martyn and yearning to get home to continue reading.
Once in a while, when I couldn’t bear the suspense, I would flip to the back of the book and take a peek to see what happens in the end. Most often, I couldn’t figure out why it ended the way it did but it relieved me the ‘anxiety of the unknown’.
Let’s contrast this with real life. The extreme anxiety we face through difficult life situations – job losses, financial losses, divorce or separation, custody battles, cancer treatments, accidents and trauma…..if only we could flip a few pages or flip to the back and know what the future held in store, if only we could make the next decision knowing where it would lead us, if only we knew what happens in the end….If only we could look into the future and come back to the present.
What we often forget is that there is no way to foretell our future. It is shaped by our daily choices, thoughts and decisions. Even God gave us free will to make decisions. Each little step, each choice takes us closer to one ending and further away from another one. Like in the stories, our life is shaped by each chapter and character that crosses our path.
‘What happens in the end’ is shaped entirely by how we start in the beginning and the choices we make in the middle. Choices of what we are doing, and choices of who we are being….
(While knowing the end does rob the stories of significant charm, I have to confess, there are a few parts of my life where I would love to flip some pages and move to the next chapter myself.)