Thursday, October 30, 2008

Remembering the Future

Remembering the future is a uniquely effective method of controlling the chaos underlying the Butterfly Effect in order to shape significant events in one's life. This technique involves constructing and living within the context of “memories” of a particular future. In order to be effective these future memories must be simple, realistic and yet vague enough to not be inconsistent with the present. To illustrate how this is done, I will use the example of my developing future memories of the publishing of my currently unpublished manuscript.

In my future memories of this event I recall the exhilaration I experienced when I opened the acceptance letter from a publisher after being ignored or rejected repeatedly. I remember the odd combination of gratitude and defensiveness I felt toward my editor who complimented certain passages while criticizing others. I recall some experts saying I’m crazy and others insisting that I’m brilliant. I remember my disappointment in discovering how quickly being on a promotional tour loses its appeal. I recall a clerk working the register at a store I frequent who, upon noticing the name on my credit card and recognizing my face from the dust jacket tells me how my words changed her life.

It is obvious that these future memories must not be inconsistent with each other or with the world in which I currently reside. Where there are conflicts these inconsistencies will disrupt the disposition I am trying to shape, thus inhibiting the manifestation of the future that they characterize.

Regularly “recalling” and adding to these future memories knits them together into a narrative that over time begins to feel as though it has already happened. Generating and living with such often mundane future memories shapes my present disposition to be consistent with them, while also guiding my actions to sustain that consistency. For instance, whenever I work on my manuscript in the context of my future memories their content often shapes my writing. As such, I often edit passages until I feel, “That’s want I remember writing”.

It is important to “recall” your future memories frequently enough for them to shape your disposition and actions but not so often that you become obsessed with the encompassing narrative. If you find yourself disappearing into this narrative you need to take a break from it in order to maintain an appropriate perspective. I find it helps to adopt a stance of dispassionate confidence in the inevitability of this future to avoid obsessive desperation. If you cannot indefinitely maintain such a posture, you should not engage in this exercise.

Remembering the future is not a magic lamp that you rub to have a wish granted. It is a technique for generating and sustaining a particular disposition in order to shape our chaotic world to be consistent with it. While it requires a significant level of inner focus, patience and commitment, when done properly it can be remarkably effective.

1 comment:

Major Generalist said...

What you're describing is visualization and setting intentions. I've been meaning to write a blog post about intentionality, and I have a bit to say on this topic but don't have the time at the moment to write too much out.

I can't agree more that setting intentions is the key to tapping into the possibilities at hand in your life, and creating the energetic vision to allow things to happen. This requires a strong act of will, and there are those people who are more and less adept at harnessing their will.

Will is the key. Surrendering to what is possible in your life is what must be unlocked, so to speak. For example, you might set an intention to be an astronaut, but at this stage of your life, this may or may not be a realistic goal. Writing a book and getting it published, however, *is* a reasonable goal.

So, "remembering the future" requires a great deal of realism
Ironic how the more "real" you are, the more you can achieve. You'd think the opposite was true (dream big! anything can happen!), but that's not correct--consider all the reality show contestants who have distorted self-image and believe they are talented singers, when in fact they can't carry a tune. They will not succeed as rock stars. This doesn't mean they shouldn't try, but it does mean that they must recognize their limitations at some point and reframe their goals.

Another example--I'd love to live in a million dollar home. But, I can't afford this. So, either I get a new job and find new ways to make tons of money, or I scale back my goals and buy something more modest.

As soon as a person can accept that not *everything* can happen, but that there are things we can be very satisifed with that are still within our realm of possibility, we have a much greater chance of realizing those particular dreams. And this is when we are best poised to set intentions and "remember the future" so that we can align with the positive forces of the universe and have a hand in making things happpen.

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