Saturday, November 1, 2008

Remembering the Future II

Remembering the future is less likely to be effective in time-critical situations. This is because, if one of your future memories has a date-specific event in it, and that date passes without the event occurring, this will undermine your disposition and the likelihood of the future you remembered. The primary purpose of this technique is to shape what will happen, but not necessarily when.

To effectively remember the future you must be able to accept that events will happen when they can in the context of your disposition. As such, this technique requires a great deal of patience. This sort of patience can be maintained by focusing on small degrees of progress towards the future you are remembering. One way to do this is to analyze noteworthy changes in your life in the context of whether or not they represent progress towards your remembered future. The more you do so, the more you will see that they do.

Based on the level of commitment required to make remembering the future work, it should obviously not be used trivially or maliciously. Going through this intricate process to get something that you can obtain by simply deciding to get out of your own way is, at best, inefficient. In addition, since this technique is based on fundamentally changing your disposition, using it maliciously will incline you to become increasingly cruel.

Initially it is best to attempt to remember longer-term futures whose narratives benefit others as well. This because it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to make the major changes in your disposition necessary for it to be consistent with a future that is significantly different from what you believe would occur otherwise. Remembering a future that benefits others harnesses their preexisting dispositions towards that future, thus providing you with more opportunities for positive reinforcement.

I have a somewhat time dependent set of future memories that benefit everyone. These memories shape the primary narrative of my life. In their context I am in a hospital bed being stabilized before I go home in order to die surrounded by my loved ones. The time dependent aspect of it is that I am either 90, 95 or 99 years old. I am pain-free and completely clear headed as I dwell on the wonderful life I’ve lived. I have made my share of mistakes but it is undeniable that I will be leaving the world a significantly better place than I found it and thus I am completely at peace with my life. I spend much of my remaining time reassuring a multitude of loves ones that things will only get better as a result of what we have accomplished. As I write these words I honestly cannot say for sure whether I am the nonagenarian remembering his past life as the person writing this essay, or am I the writer remembering the end of his life (not unlike Billy Pilgrim in “Slaughterhouse Five”). Either way works for me.

Remembering the future is my way of controlling the chaos underlying the Butterfly Effect in order to shape significant events in my life. It is also what I do in lieu of prayer when people I care about need more than words of comfort. Beyond the fact that I believe it gives me control over the primary arc of my life, it invariably works for me simply because it provides me with the means of feeling good about the future.

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