Friday, November 3, 2017


In the movie Arrival, (close your eyes for a second if you haven't seen it and still want to, and don't want to be spoilered) the premise is that by learning an alien language people can learn to remember the future. This isn't new, lots of science fiction stories have seeing the future as a premise. Even the ancient Greeks had that idea, though Cassandra was cursed that nobody would believe her. (BTW, Arrival is a terrific movie if you haven't seen it yet. All photographers drool at the composition of the opening scene.)

But the theory often seems to be that you would remember everything about the future, and why should that be? How much of the past do you actually remember? Pop quiz, what were you doing at noon, a week and 5 days after your 12th birthday?


Now, you might end up having a memory of the future that includes a look at a calendar that shows you planning an event for a particular time and place in 2047. Maybe that's a possible future you, and there are other branches of you that die a week tomorrow in a car crash. That's why you wouldn't have any memories from then.

We choose our future every moment, often without realizing it. Sure, picking a school, picking a job, deciding which city to live in opens up a path to a future you, and simultaneously closes off other paths. Maybe you'd have met the love of your life if only you had taken that short term contract in Vancouver. It rolled over to a longer term, and you met that cute co-worker, blah blah blah. Or maybe that's where you died in a car crash and by staying here you got a long fulfilling life but you slide into senility with nobody but a paid nurse to change your diapers.

We usually don't know the results of our choices, though some are obvious. Getting into a car being driven by a drunk is a really bad idea. No brainer there. I think it's a no brainer that voting for Jason Kenney or anyone in their new political party is a bad idea, but then again, some people are so demented as to think that Trump is doing a good job.

There is an open gate. Inviting, provided you don't trip over the leaves, or run into the obstacle just past the gate. But there's another gate right beside it, closed. Someone in a rush might not even notice that closed gate. Maybe it's closed because going that way is a bad idea, or maybe, just maybe, the prize for opening it is substantial. You get to choose, and you probably won't have as much information as you'd like.

Again and again, you get to choose. Which shirt and tie to wear to work today? Doesn't matter. Oops, maybe it does, there's that big meeting with the new boss. Which route to take to work today, car or transit? Did you think about how long the egg salad sandwich you grabbed as a meeting leftover had been out of the fridge, or who had breathed on it? What kind of toothpaste do you get on the way home, you'd think you'd recognize something you pick up every day for several weeks, but no, and your spouse will get cranky with you if you get the wrong stuff, and therefore doesn't want to have sex and that's the day you'd have got pregnant.

On and on, decisions, decisions. Big, little, and unknown. Go through this gate to this path, but not that one. Oops! Goofed, but now it's too late. Live and learn.

Sometimes I think this getting old thing is just getting tired from making so many decisions. I remember talking to older people, and them saying they liked things slowing down as they got older, living a simpler life by excluding choices. I didn't get it then. I do now. I've really enjoyed this 4 months off. There are days so busy I don't know if I'm coming or going, and days I do very little. The balance is nice.

There are some gates beginning to loom up in front of me. Their shadows are becoming more clear, but who knows for sure? In other news, our financial advisor is building us an income allocation plan to get the money we need out of our various investments, while triggering as little tax as possible. The assumption being made at the moment is that there is no other work contract for me because, really, until there is an offer on paper to be signed, there is nothing and I'm free to go photograph whatever seems good. But life changes. All the time. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Keith. It is interesting to think about where our choices have taken us and what might have been missed along the way. Love the photo too!


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