The Future Unfolding

Even though I sync up better with the Jewish New Year, the Gregorian New Year still acts as a mile marker for me. I ask, “How does this year compare with last year? What did I think of this year? What happened?” When I contemplate 2023, I realize I couldn’t have predicted 99% of the things that transpired. I thought I knew what the future held but I didn’t, like, at all.

I want to predict the future to give myself a sense of safety. If I know what’s coming, I think I can prepare for it but I’m not sure you can ever truly prepare. For instance, you build up savings in case you lose your job but then you lose your job and it’s still discombobulating. Or your parent is on their deathbed and then they die and it’s still devastating. Can you ever prepare for what life brings you? Or can you only live it, one day at a time?

fern unfolding

The future is like this. Photo by Maddy Weiss on Unsplash

I’m reminded of that famous Rainer Maria Rilke quote that says:

“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

As we enter the Gregorian New Year, I’m living the questions. I keep searching for answers but the answers aren’t here yet because the future is still unfolding. There are still many unknowns for us mortals. At this point, you might be sick of reading poems on “Another World is Probable” but I’m sharing another poem! Here are three stanzas from John O’Donohue’s poem “For a New Beginning:”

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

There is a world awaiting us but we’re rising up to meet it. We’re living the future with all its question marks and unknowns. Life happens here, now. While I’m mulling over whether this thing will happen or that thing, my life continues. In the shadow of my friend’s death, I want to be present for what is, not what could be. And that means not worrying about the future and instead letting it unfold as it will.

I dream of a world where we have patience with the unresolved questions in our hearts. A world where we understand the future is mostly unknowable and so it’s better to be here, now. A world where we trust the promise of our life’s opening and the grace of beginning. A world where we let the future unfold.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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