Thinking In Long Terms

Times they are a changing. Time marches on. Time waits for no man. Time flies. There are many sayings about time and our interactions with it. Theorists would have you acknowledge that whether or not time is linear is still not a settled issue, but from a human perspective we see time pass from past to present to future at a constant rate. It may seem to speed up and slow down depending on our circumstances, but we know that each day is equal to the last, and we can’t go back and change anything after the fact. We can however affect the future with our actions in the present.

What actions we take are our own decisions, but we can’t know what the eventual effects will be. We can only make our best educated guess by studying what has happened in the past after similar decisions were made. By combining our own memories with focused research we can usually come up with a fairly accurate guess of consequences for common actions. If I plant an apple tree, I can guess that in a matter of years I will begin to harvest apples. I know from my own experience that the circumstances of the planting make a large difference in how many years that may be. I can read about all the different methods used in the past and their effects on harvest amounts and quality.

Thinking years into the future is an interesting exercise. Our lives do not in general follow the perfect plans we set out for ourselves. That apple tree has a lifespan of decades to centuries, and it can’t move with us when our lives take us elsewhere. Does that mean we should not plant it? I think we should plant it every time. You should imagine that your plans are exactly what will happen and eventually they may be. By acting as if you are building the future you wish to have, at a certain point you will be living it.

You will never be what you wish to be, where you wish to be, without first taking all the steps to get there. Just because it might not be here in this place, or with these people, does not mean that the efforts are wasted. Think of it as practice. When you get where you want to be, you will be a journeyman mistake maker, an artisan of your craft, and you will have years of valuable experience in starting something from scratch.

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