The future has apparently arrived, a future we’ve all waited for calculated in Back to the Future to this very date — October 21st, 2015. Is this the future each one of us envisioned for ourselves? Surely it isn’t the future depicted in the Back to the Future films of hover boards and auto-tying Nike shoes and flying cars. Well, we do have some of it in the form of neo-hipsters defying the norms by wearing shiny and sparkly garbs of the future. I see it all over Melbourne. Which happens to look awfully like the 1970’s attire. It’s the future, I know. But besides some psychedelic get-ups, it isn’t the future we were promised in that movie. Sure, we might have hover board concepts in the making, and hobbie flying cars. Hell, we’ve even have autonomous cars made by search engine companies, DeLorean doors on Tesla cars, and goals to populate Mars. Not as cool as the self drying jacket I know, but still pretty rad.
What about ourselves?
I’m not talking about THE vision of the future, but about our vision of our own future. Are we right where we want to be jettisoning toward some spectacular future self? Problem is, movies like Back to the Future make us want to be Marty McFly, or some iteration of hero or heroine. A normal guy or girl tasked with some incredible feat and overcoming surmounting odds to save the day. They promised us a future of escaping badies using trucks full of cow shit.
Well, the vision of the future is a giant pile of cow shit.
I’m not saying you and I have had crappy lives leading up to now or crappy futures waiting for us, though I know I’ve had quite a few ups and far more downs — but I’m saying that measuring what should be to some grand vision of “the future” or what is seen on the silver screen is a giant heaping pile of smelly dung. A lie. And you’ll land face first into the stinky mess if you don’t realize that.
Doc Brown himself even made an appearance recently to tell us that, yeah, the future is here and it wasn’t what was promised. Ya’ know why?
The future is not yet written. But don’t worry, no ones has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”
Good one Doc, eloquently put and damn inspirational. As a kid, I’d even pretend he was my mad Uncle lost somewhere in time given we share the same last name. Oh nostalgia.
The key message for us here is that the future is not yet written.
It isn’t preplanned out for anyone and unless you are lazy about life and believe fate controls your life outcome. Play the blame game on some unforeseen force or the three fates sitting under a tree toying with your life and be on auto-pilot if you want, but not me. Ultimately your future depends on what you make of it. YOU! There is no real grandiose vision of the future that isn’t just a movie or schemes by companies to keep populations in line. There isn’t a tallied up list of every human being on earth with a start, middle, and end. No list saying one gets a Porche while another gets to live in squalor. Want to know why? Because the future doesn’t exist. The past doesn’t even exist, because it has already come to pass and is only memory. The future is never attainable because the moment we reach the future, it is only the present.
Some will want you to believe in their future.
There are many of us that have probably heard the tired argument that we need to go to school to get a good job and buy a house. Cow shit. There are popular opinions from others of the proper way to live life. Some are happy with what some call the pre-packaged American Dream concept, and there is nothing wrong with it. Take my brother for instance — he has a wife and stable job and just built a shiny new house and I’m happy for him. And he seems happy. That is the future he created, and hopefully not under influence of anyone else’s ideals except him an his wife. But for years he tried to impose his perception of what I needed to do with my life upon me, going as far as disowning me for traveling. It was from the heart, I know now, but it isn’t what I want. And my life isn’t his to decide. Same for you. Nobody gets to decide what your life will be like except you.
Let’s go back to the future.
As I sit here at my wooden desk typing in front of my old Victorian-style window in Melbourne, with the cracking paint of a lawn gnome peaking through the bushes at me, I realize this is not where I thought I’d be. I didn’t think I’d be sipping a fruit and vegetable smoothie in Australia, wearing a poncho I bought in Thailand that’s keeping me warm on this rainy day. My friends make fun of me for “going full hippie” just based on the contrast that my hardcore conservative upbringing used to make me believe and regurgitate everything on Fox. I didn’t think I’d ever leave the United States, or even my home state of Maryland. I didn’t think at the age of 18 that my life would be any different from that of my father’s life, nor my brother. We were a working family. A laboring family. My father told me that dreams were for the floozies (whatever that it) and to get my head from out of the clouds. It’s just that I couldn’t help but dream something bigger, and yearn for something more.
And here I am. Not in a future I envisioned growing up, not in a future that someone else had told me I needed to pursue. It is not even my future, but a present life and a present self that I am happy with. And happy to keep working on.
I didn’t hop in some flux compacitor-powered DoLorean and fly here. And fuck I fell on my face so many times to get to this present self. Along the way I dreamed big, fell hard, went to jail, went through rehab and meetings, refocused my life, and decided what I want in life.
That is why you shouldn’t live for the future.
The vision of the future, and even your vision of the future, can be just as venomous as letting someone else tell you what your life should be like. I dreamed big, and finally escaped my mundane existence in the United States to travel. It was a profound moment and glorious accomplishment, but all the while I was traveling and thinking about proving all those naysayers wrong. I was thinking about my future self thumbing my nose at my brother who told me I couldn’t do it, and at my father who had told me I wouldn’t be anything besides what he was. I wasn’t living in the present. I was chasing a future solely based on spiting someone else’s vision what I was supposed to be. And that had consequences. Things didn’t play out like I thought they would, and because I chased this future self the entire time, I never found out how to be happy at that current moment.
But that is the past, and the task is to always keep working on what I desire my present to be. And for you to work on what you want to be right now. The great thing about living in the now and working on yourself now, is that it piles on to constantly help you grow. Thinking about the future too much leads us to running in place stressing out about accomplishing this lofty goal. Live in the present, and your goals naturally come to fruition as a result.
So do we ignore the future?
As Doc said, our future is not yet written. The rest of the world and its future isn’t written. And I’m not telling you we should completely ignore the future. Things like being conscious and proactive with the environment for the future of our planet, or doing something for those less fortunate than you to possibly improve the lifestyles of even whole nations — those things are important. Do things in the present that will, down the road, effect the potential future.
Just don’t live only in the future.
Live in the present.
Do things now that make the present better for you and our planet and others.
Do something everyday that helps you grow as a person.
Don’t hope to become something, just become.
Be conscious of your effect, positive or negative, on the world.
No person was born to become great, and people who have done great things are normal people who didn’t waste time.
If your reading this on a computer, you have a privilege. You are living now better off than millions of others — so stop wasting the now and dammit, make something of it. It’s almost an obligation to do better and live better and help others in need because you have more freedoms and opportunities and chances than many. Instead, some of us think about eventually doing something while sipping a beer and playing Angry Birds. Tomorrowland doesn’t exist, the future doesn’t exist, and there is no grand plan someone has for you. And nobody will do this for you. Think you’ve got it tough sometimes? That the world keeps making it hard for you to accomplish what you want? That somebody else got lucky and got what you wanted? The world isn’t out to get you if you feel that way sometimes, because it has better things to do like revolve around the fucking sun. You decide what you want in life, because you you hold the potential to be great, and if you don’t think that, it is because you are making yourself not great. Then Biff it up.
Living life is about living.
Not “I want to be.”
Not if and when.
You’re alive. So start acting like it.
Get back to the present McFly. And you.
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