October 8th, 2008

Future Tense

There are four ways to play the videogame Rock Band: play guitar, sing, play drums, or play bass. Those are listed in order of enjoyment for me. The reason I don’t like playing bass is because I don’t see how it affects anything. The other three have immediate feedback and I can tell how I’m doing. If I’m doing well at bass, the only reason I know it is because I’m getting the multiplier and not failing. I can’t hear the bass line, so it might as well be me playing random notes.

It’s funny/scary how geared I am toward immediate results. I sometimes feel like I lack the ability to consider the future – I eat this Dove bar because it tastes SO GOOD right now, and even though some part of my brain knows the cumulative effects of eating Dove bars will some day wreak havoc on my body, that knowledge doesn’t stop me from eating it… or the next three in the box. It’s the same reason I can’t motivate myself to work out – I know that getting on the treadmill today will help Future Me, but Present Me doesn’t like how he feels during the process, so he doesn’t do it. Future Me can deal with that stuff later.

Future Me can also figure out how to retire when he gets to that point, and where to put all these old game consoles Present Me is collecting, and how to deal with the house projects Present Me has been putting off. The way Present Me looks at it, Future Me will be older and wiser and will know how to handle all that, and he will forgive Present Me at that point.

I can barely even type that in jest, because it’s too close to home. How can I train Present Me to look toward the future? If I were given three wishes, I think one of them might be the ability to see what would result from my immediate actions. Even having the predetermined-path-indicators like Donnie Darko could see for a while be help a little, I think. If I could see that my half hour on the treadmill today added 3 days to my life, maybe it’d help me get up on the treadmill.

Any thoughts? How have you helped your Present Self start now to help your Future Self? Or is it just a matter of playing bass forever, knowing you’re headed in the right direction just because you haven’t failed out of the song?

3 Comments on “Future Tense”

  1. ZiggyTQuirk says:

    Future Me is a little bit Past Me. For example, I'm on medication at the moment that makes me feel icky. Almost every day I think "I'm going to stop taking this because I feel gross". However, I know that a year from now my body will be used to it, and I'll have lost a lot of weight, so it's worth it.

    Future Me will have enough to deal with without diabetes or heart disease, so i try to keep active to minimise that risk. (Future me will be owning a tropical island filled with puppies and therefore will not have TIME to do insulin shots, you gotta plan ahead).

  2. Dave says:

    My pastor puts it this way; the Bible, through principles and the accounts of the faithful and fallible, allows us to pre-live life– to see where certain types of attitudes and choices end up taking us. Another way to phrase what you are asking might be, "How do I cultivate the fear of the Lord?" I'd start in Proverbs.

  3. JClark says:

    Honestly, sincerely not trying to be a jerk here (really, I swear):

    I have to point out that a careful reading of Shakespeare, Homer, Aristotle, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, or even Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, or Orson Scott Card will give you the same insights. Quality literature, regardless of genre, is a meditation and exploration of the human condition. That's EXACTLY what you're talking about here. A well read person has "pre-lived" a thousand different lives, if not a thousand thousand.

    Religious texts (including The Bible, The Qur'an, The Tanakh, The Book of the Dead, The Diamond Sutra, The Epic of Gilgamesh, etc.) are simply another attempt at relating these sort of ideas in the form of poetic (symbolic) lessons. Sumerian legends were the western world's original morality tales. Many of these tales showed up in The Bible and other later works, including those of the authors I mentioned above. The only difference between these other works and the holy texts is that no one believes that they are meant to be literal accounts (though I'm not looking to debate this, just pointing it out), the lessons are the same universal life lessons.

    For a fantastic first step outside of holy literature, check out Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. It's a sweeping, comedic, mad cap reflection on the meaning of faith and belief, and their place in human culture and history (it's #13 in the Discworld series, but it's pretty much a stand alone adventure).

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