The egoic mind wants to possess the future. The soul wants to possess the Now (because the soul knows the Now is real and the future is not).
There is no knowing that is fixed. Because of where we live, the laws of physics here, fixed knowing is a myth, a far-away fairy tale that works to seduce us out of our divine present.
I have a lot of clients who come to me and want to know what will happen in the future. Will he call? Will he text me back? When will I meet my future man, hero, savior? Should I leave my job? My girlfriend? Is my partner cheating on me? Worthy questions, and we are all human to ask them.
But there’s too much What If weighing down those particular questions. As a weight on the mind, this exercise of What If weighs on the heart as well.
What if What If turned into What Is? What Is can only tap-dance in the Now, which is where our tangible, perceptible and aforementioned, divine, present resides. It is where we create, and thus, where we get results. Asking after the future like it is some fixed known, some code to crack is like abandoning your teeming-with-life three year old at a busy airport. That city you’re about to fly off to is never, ever going to be more important than managing the safety and well-being of your baby-child drooling over the seats in Delta terminal A-27.
Be assured that I am not exempt from the need-to-know bug, and it bugs me. In fact the motivation I received to write about the Myth of Fixed Knowing came from a fear (surprise!). I was driving to the beach on a rainy Spring morning. It was a couple of days after I’d finished teaching my very first college writing class. Despite a nagging, snarky course evaluation and the head of the department and me not always seeing eye-to-eye, I felt the semester had gone quite well. I was proud of the work I’d done, had a truckload of tools going into the next semester and discovered that I truly loved a College Freshmen. They’re so stunned and earnest while still able to retain a modicum of their high school swagger. It indeed is an interesting metamorphosis to watch.
On my drive, as I divided all of the things I’d done well and all of the things I’ll do better next time into little brain-piles, the Saboteur voice seized me. You know the one. She lives just below the surface of your shirt and sabotages a moment of reflection, ratchets up a moment of turmoil and strives to dismantle any sense of self-confidence you’ve managed to build.
As I slowed down, abiding the speed limit in Cape Elizabeth, I heard the Saboteur distinctly say, “What if all you ever are is an English Comp professor at UNE?” The fear froze my blood, producing that lightening-quick blast of adrenaline in the promise of a panic attack. All I ever am? I heard myself parrot back to the Saboteur. The response: A fate worse than hell itself, as one of my Scottish ancestors may put it.
But that’s not because teaching writing comp at a right-decent university is a bad gig! I quite enjoyed myself, as previously stated. It’s because about four months prior to taking the job at the university, I finished my final revision of my Southern Gothic novel. If anyone has written 365 pages (that’s 109,673 word count) over the course of…we’ll just call it ten years…then you know how delirious you are about actually getting the novel published. I was officially done fussing over it and had started to actively look for an agent to represent me in January of 2019. At the time, just like this moment in time, there was/is nothing I wanted more than to get my novel published. I balked in the faces of people who made the asinine suggestion of self-publishing, thinking that my work required a seasoned agent from New York City—anything less would mean defeat.
So when this flash flood of fear mounted itself inside of me in the form of a What If scenario, I was overtaken by the need to know what my future held; I worked pretty hard to talk myself off the cliff of despair that morning.
This calamity (in my mind) transpired because ego is a hunter. It hunts things to control, to manage, to wrestle down, slap a label on. It does this to minimize any ill-effect on the Self. Ego is primed to ask the What If questions of life until the cows mosey home. Ego loves this game! Will always be up for playing.
But we cannot know what the future holds because the future is an illusion, a placeholder for a tangible thing, NOT the thing itself. I realized that my now-actions pave my way to an inevitable future and my time is better spent figuring out—day by day—what the opposite of “fixed” is.
At this juncture, I have come up with “dynamic” and have committed to pursuits which relish, celebrate and honor the pleasures and pains of Now. The hard-and-fast roulette wheel of a fixed knowing only works to cut me off from the energy that wants a dynamic knowing.
That will give me more than I ever imagined, not less.