“All experience, in matters of philosophical discovery, teaches us that, in such discovery, it is the unforseen upon which we must calculate most largely.” Edgar Allen Poe
When I look over at my daughter, her two pigtails are upturned in a smile and her innocence is captured in her questions. The last few weeks she has talked about turning 100 years old. She asks, “When I turn 100 years old, will I live in a different house?” I laugh at her question, but sadness breathes on me. Then she asks, “Will you be there in my house?” At that, I turn away, trying to tilt my head in an upward direction, trying to keep my tears a prisoner in my eyes.
My daughter inadvertently is my philosphical anchor, her question sparks my own reflections of the unforseen, the joy and melancholy we experience as we live our lives. She embraces small moments. She giggles at cartoons, shouts in glee when she can snack on apples and caramel sauce, and rushes to the door as soon as her father comes home from work. Its a laugh and glee that isn’t twinged with future anticipation of something else. What I admire about her is her capacity to embrace an emotion with abandon. There is purity in that laughter I don’t often hear in adults. Her tears possess the same quality of raw angst. When a friend leaves her out or I tell her she can’t have ice cream, she doesn’t hold back, she releases her tears, one by one, like they were a hostage for an infinite amout of time.
Whatever happens around her, she embraces. I believe her emotions are raw and without conditions because she isn’t aware of the unforseen. When she observes, she isn’t calculating what happens next, but immerses herself in the present emotion. I’ve lost the capacity to not plan on the unforseen. The irony is that you can’t plan for the unexpected, but will ruminate over all the what if’s. It’s a lesson in absurdity, because ultimately you can’t plan for surprises. As a result, when I experience sadness or happiness, I retreat into my mind, calculating, either good or bad, what may happen in the next minute, week, or year. I cheat myself from the now, creating a guard between myself and the present emotion.
I am unwilling to get lost in my own experience. I’m too busy measuring and calculating the unforseen.
Do you spend your days anticipating or planning for the unforseen? Can you truly calculate the unforseen? Has a question by your child prompted a philosophical musing in your life?
Simply Wow! This piece is one of your best yet.
As always, beautiful and thought provoking.
We get questions like that all the time – about heaven, and how old we’ll be when we go to heaven, and what happens if a bad guy with a gun comes… The questions rock me every time.
My goal? To stay in the now. It’s both amazing and terrifying that we have no control over what’s next. Of course I worry and start going to the path of worrying about what’s to come. I try – really hard – to be present right here. Right now.
I also think this about my dogs. They live life with abandon. Their needs are simple. They find joy in a warm patch of sunlight. And they never, ever, think about their own mortality.
I think that’s why children are such a gift–they allow us to see the world through their lens. A lens that isn’t yet corrupted or guided by the weight of the world.
Beautiful thoughts. When I accept the unforeseen is unknowable, I lose much of my anxiety. But it is such a struggle.
Your writing is so beautiful. I try really hard to stay in the moment…but it’s not very easy to do.
When my daughter sees pictures of relatives who have passed on, she asks when she will meet them and where they are now. How I wish I could answer those questions for her, but I’m still working on the answers myself.
Love this: “The irony is that you can’t plan for the unexpected, but will ruminate over all the what if’s.” So very true.
I think the innocense and awe of children ground us to the simplicity that is important in life. As adults, we are too prone to worry for we know through experience what the real world is like. I remember those tpes of questions from my children,; I miss those days of them being untouched by society’s demands. This is a lovely write, Rudri. Thank you for refreshing my heart and mind today.