The unknown nature of the future is as easily a blessing as it is a curse. For one, the future is seemingly made up of limitless possibilities, which allows for hopeful imagination and inspired pursuits of “better.” On the other hand, limitless possibilities also allows for endless fixation on just what exactly “better” is. Since the idea of “better” itself is indefinite, it comes as easily as second nature to begin mentally spiraling in the name of an ever-evolving goal.
Our imaginations are unrestricted and infinite, and when paired with the open-endedness of the future, we’re able to imagine future scenarios in our heads that are incredibly personalized and inspired by our most honest desires. We are effortlessly able to place the images of picture-perfect life into our minds whenever we want, and since the future is truly unknown, there’s always a slight possibility these imaginations could actually develop into reality. That slight potential is easy to cling onto, but it ignores our imagination’s greatest flaw: the images in our head are never full-proof against reality.
Clinging onto the minimal potentiality of dreams becoming reality is what keeps the future exciting and motivating. I believe picture-perfect ideas of the future can act as one of the most effective motivations, but I’m hesitant because of how that leads to the ignorance of reality. I do not struggle with the idea that the future should be approached with optimism and dream-filled eyes that fuel hard work. I struggle with the future being approached as an assurance that the images in our head will come to fruition.
No matter what dazzling heights we achieve, very rarely does the exact image in our head become reality. There are always missing details or additional struggles or unimagined emotions after reality plays its hand. With such a perfect image made in our head, comparison comes naturally, leaving tinges of dissatisfaction everywhere.
So what’s the response to any internal disappointment when perfection fails to be accurately replicated? It’s really quite simple. You remember the future is unlimited and create a new image to chase. Then do it all over again, leaving dissatisfaction sprinkled behind, casting a sour flavor over every reality you experience.
When the future is the only thing in sight, it’s easy for the present to lose value in our mind. Instead of being a moment in time itself, the present instead becomes merely a means of chasing the future and a stepping stone to unreachable perfection. Not only that, but obsession with the future leaves the present to deal with the dissatisfaction brought upon by reality while the future remains images of perfection and possibility.
By doing this, we are doing ourselves a disservice. The present is the only moment in which we exist, and if the future is not approached with the right mindset, the present will take on sacrifices and burdens for a moment we’ll never truly experience. If we live in our minds, where perfection runs rampant, the present can truly never compare, leaving the moment we actually get to experience forever dull and unsatisfactory.
Dismissing the present as merely a step to the future robs us of our chances to experience and enjoy the future holistically for what it is: dynamic and vivacious, adventurous and safe, chaotic and serene, undefined and desirable. The present always exists while the future never does. There will always be bigger, better futures implanting themselves into our imaginations like seeds. They’ll grow and they’ll strengthen and they’ll secure a place within us but they’ll never enter reality as beautiful as they were in our heads. Dissatisfied, we’ll try again and again, always ignoring flourishing shades and comforting scents from gardens right in front of us just to give attention to mere colors and smells that are truly unknown and will forever rest buried within the walls of our imaginations.