Fear and Future Start with the Same Letter

By: Danny Geisz | January 13, 2020

Project: #Life

What a faux ominous title! The title of this post could easily be the title of a grade school book series, like The Boxcar Children, or The Magic Treehouse books. As much as I hate to miss the opportunity to take us all back on a jaunt down memory lane where we could all reminisce about pre-prepubescent times, I do have a purpose behind the bland title.

I was in the car today with my father, two brothers, and my mother, and as one typically does while in a car, we were driving from one location to another. The nature of the two locations will be omitted for the safety of everyone in the vehicle. During the drive, my father and younger brother engaged in a conversation about afternoon plans. The nature of the conversation was such that at one point my father stated, “Some people devote their entire lives to being fans of professional sports teams.” The rest of the conversation is irrelevant in this context, but that one statement awakened something deep within me quite familiar but that had long been asleep.

The something that awakened was an acute feeling of one very specific fear: the fear that I may end up living a meaningless, unproductive existence. This fear is particularly dangerous for two reasons:

  1. This fear causes me to absolutely lose sight of the beauty and opportunity of the present moment. I have observed that throughout my life, I have spent far too much time being anxious about the future or regretful of the past. Through my own experience, I have learned that life is meant to be lived in the present, and nowhere else. This sentiment is quite cliché, and unfortunately it has lost some of its power by overuse.
  2. This fear causes me to try to logically determine what a meaningful life even entails. Very frequently I tend to either rationally or irrationally come to a nihilistic conclusion, which always proves to be destructive. At my healthiest, I enjoy working toward a specific goal with great tenacity, even if the process is unenjoyable at times. Because of this, I will very frequently deprive myself of experiences and ventures that society tells me will give me great pleasure. Whenever a nihilistic mentality creeps its way into my conscious mindset, I am therefore forced to question whether the goal I’m working towards is best use of my life. I will then often be filled with a certain level of regret as I look at all the different offerings of life I have yet to experience and wonder why on Earth I have kept myself from them. But, committed readers, as I’m sure many of you have experienced in your own lives, hedonism is a mindset that ultimately leads to emptiness and despair. To quote Jon Bellion, “How the @#$& do you explain a bunch of billionaires who kill themselves?”

What is the point of this loosely logical discussion, you might ask? Well, as I was returning a ski boot rental today, I was able to identify the highly unconformable feeling that had plagued me since the comment my father made as this specific type of fear. Once I had done this, I came to a sudden realization. Fear is itself a manifestation of our inability to confidently know the future. If you knew the future, there would be nothing of which to be afraid. Perhaps if you had knowledge of some highly unfortunate or painful event that would occur in the future, you would have reason to be anxious or filled with dread, but there would be no reason to be afraid.

So then, as I pulled away from the ski shop, I understood that my feeling of existential discomfort stemmed from my compulsion to control my future.

But, my dearest of readers, we don’t control the future. All we can do is decide what to do in the present moment. Perhaps I may someday live a life that some might consider meaningless. That is a probably a definite possibility. However, when I arrived home, I decided to continue working on the XFA site. I figured out how to incorporate markdown into my posts, which will allow me to easily insert pictures and media into XFA entries. That certainly filled me with a level of irrational glee.

Tomorrow, I will likely finish my work on the XFA files. I simply need to add some pretentious pictures of myself and a schmeagy bio section, but then I’ll be ready to send that bad boy off to a server. And then, treasured reader, you’ll be able to read what I write.

This week I will also need to read through the material about quark gluon plasmas and relativistic collisions I was given in preparation for the research project I will be carrying out this semester. I will also begin work on Orchid, which is all works according to plan (which it won’t) will allow us to finally be able to digitize mathematics.

If nothing else, my friend, remember that life is the gift. Our ability to interact with reality in each present moment is intrinsically precious, and ought to be treated as such.