Why do we think knowing what’s ahead is necessarily a good thing? Having a premonition about an unpalatable event doesn’t necessarily equip you with the ability to avert it.
Humans have always been fascinated by the prospects of the future. We usually glance back at past memories with nostalgia and tend to be a touch apathetic about the present. Living in the present can hardly sate our minds. It’s the experiences trapped away in the future that hold us in awe – because they haven’t happened yet. Because we don’t know how they’ll pan out. Why do we seek to glimpse into timelines beyond the one we’re in though?
Reality is almost always not enough for most of us because it deals with what’s happening now regardless of preceding plans or events. And it can be unnerving when it doesn’t follow suit with our expectations. That may be why we’re so interested in taking a sneak peek into the future – to sort of change the game. That’s why concepts like time travel, precognition/premonition, Extra Sensory Perceptions, déjà vu and out-of-body experiences are kind of a big deal to us. We want to know what’s coming to us ahead of time. We’d rather be omniscient if we could help it.
The scripts of far too many Sci-Fi flicks have resounded one theme for decades: Time travel. Someone either wants to alter the past to improve the present or wants to take a trip to the future to know what’s coming so they can alter the present. Interestingly, the focus of scientific research isn’t much different too. We’re searching for ways to alter the human condition. Mind reading, time travel and the elixir to make us immortal are usually the anticipated results of modern theoretical and particle physics (and biological) research. Of course no one would readily admit it but we’re all considering the odds. Somehow, being human- and being at the mercy of fate, time and space (and other humans, even) – isn’t enough for us. We crave for some level of control, at least. We want to be gods.
Why do we think knowing what’s ahead is necessarily a good thing? Having a premonition about an unpalatable event doesn’t necessarily equip you with the ability to avert it. In fact, that’s why we have the concept of déjà vu. That knowledge, instead of being advantageous, usually makes us miserable because knowing didn’t really make a difference. Also, pre-knowledge of a good event has no intrinsic value. How do you know the feel-good effects wouldn’t have worn off by the time the event occurs?
The only thing separating us from gods is immortality and omniscience. Theoretically, if you have all the time in the world, you can find all the answers there are; you can know all there is to know. But immortality isn’t as it is cracked up to be, I think – at least not on a finite plane like ours. Can you imagine being here forever, already knowing all there is? I doubt it wouldn’t get boring with time.
Because we live in an ever transient present phase, savouring the moments tends to be a tad difficult for us. But we need to yank our minds ever so often from falling adrift into the supposed allure trapped in the past or the future. Now is all we own. Even if time travel becomes a reality someday, I doubt that would have any effect on the human condition beyond the aesthetic. Premonitions, like most forms of hidden knowledge, tend to make us miserable as knowing doesn’t really help us change fate. Let’s learn to place our focus on the time that matters most: Now. It’s all that we have. Maybe our efforts now could change fate for the future.
I particularly like the statement Achilles made to the priestess at the temple of Apollo while she was his captive. I think it to be an apt end to this discourse:
“…The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal- because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
Savour the present. It is all we have.
Solomon Osadolo is a curious young man who has a knack for finding stuff out. He likes to read and he takes particular interest in technology, music, psychology, writing. He blogs at www.soloxpress.blogspot.com and tweets from @soloxpress.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.