The big thing on my list at the moment is calling my grandmother about a recipe for peach jam – nothing about changing the world or getting a PhD.
Whenever people bring up Future Plans, they seem to be asking about the long term direction to which you’re resigned, as though you know, by virtue of standing in a sailboat, where the river ends. In a beautiful life, there are no cartographers! All I know is that I’ve got a sandwich in my bag and some friends sitting next to me. Who cares if they’ll grow up to be doctors? We’re all hungry and enjoying the view and building our steps one thought at a time. Future Plans, you miss the point! Time is constructed by a series of smaller happenings – you can’t paint a picture all in one stroke. Some attention to detail, man!
But then, what the hell is The Future, anyway? Whenever I hear the phrase, I always think about rocketships. And tigers in space suits, going on space walks on very long leads with their space owners, who are wearing very thick, tiger-proof jackets over their own fishbowled suits. The future is going to be a bleak place for people on earth – we’ll still be raping the planet while everyone’s trying to kill everyone else, just because everyone’s still different. And because there won’t be any tigers in zoos anymore – they’ll all have been bought up and brought out by wealthy ecologists who made it out to space and decided to create a new and endangered breed of space tiger to conserve. Nothing will continue to make any sense. The future will be filled with such fantastic circumstances that we could only possibly think of them now as fantasy. (Because that’s what realities are before they’re realized, right? We were all just a sparkle in the milkman’s eye once upon a time.) The future will be a place where lovers are cursed in such a way that they can only speak words that resonate the frequency of one another once they fall in love. In the future, people will still only know that they have something real when it’s shattering in their embrace. And that will only be reality sometime in the future, when there’s a doctor clever and maniacal enough to drop out of art school to spend his time researching the correlations between resonance and love. Because in The Future, just like Today, people are always more interested in shattering things than they are in making them better.
Then come the Soons. The English language is a sieve, letting simple concepts slip through the cracks and denying their existence. It neglects a simple word that captures the flavor of A Short-Term Plan… in doing so English linguaculture diverts our attention from the power and importance of simple decisions to their relation to time. If it’s made and realized in the short term, it certainly can’t be any good, can it? After all, worthwhile things are steeped in sacrifice and staying the course, certainly not impulse or whimsy. At least, that’s the feeling I get.
My roommates and I often decide what we’re going to have for breakfast the night before. When we wake up in the morning, though, it’s never the exotic something we’d planned – it’s always black coffee while staring disdainfully at the sink filled with dirty dishes. During the wee hours of a weekend afternoon, it’s hard to believe that last night’s plans for the future were ever a good idea. I can’t imagine this is an uncommon problem.
I’ve always been skeptical of people who say that they know what they want to do. Do people really think that plans, once made, are concrete? That their opinions will never waiver and that whatever they have in their heads is absolute? There have been entire generations of people convinced the world was going to end during their lifetime. Friends have planned to go to medschool, done well on their entrance exams, and then realized just as they were sending in application checks that they actually didn’t care about the human body. Painting still lives in oil is much more interesting. We’re all just a drop in the bucket. Yes.
As such, I believe The Future should always be an adventure. Always. The Future should be synonymous with train trips through the great white north and visits to smoky diners with coffee made of ash and motherfucking tigers in spacesuits. The idea of making a long term plan, in my mind at least, means forsaking something about the very romantic nature of life itself. Life, just like death, should be spontaneous and unplanned; following its own course; the course of your own devices and the momentum of your own personhood. That’s my The Future – an epic of Soons, wrought with possibility.