Considering the Inscrutable

Anyone who has ever been a high school senior will know the feeling of having his imminent future be the constant topic of discussion amongst family and friends even though paradoxically he will have very little to say about it since his future has yet to arrive. In fact all his friends and family, if such have made it past high school themselves, probably know more about what to expect than our bewildered victim does, but he will nevertheless constantly be invited to weigh in and provide fruitless speculations about the dark hole of mystery into which he is about to enter.

And so it is with anyone who, apropos of seemingly nothing, decides to up and move to some foreign country. And which is also why if you must do something of the sort it is really best to announce it at the last possible moment.

What may also be equally as pointless but which has occupied my thoughts, is whether such a sudden deviation from the normal course of events can be used to better calibrate one’s expectation machine. Throughout life I have been perenially surprised at how far reality deviates from my mental projections of the future, usually in the sense that reality turns out far worse than expected. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to better predict oncoming calamity, if only to more fully savor the dread and apprehension until it arrives?

Being the clever ape that I am I have attempted to compensate for this discrepancy by expecting the worst about events yet to transpire. This is an approach to life that will make you right so often as to madden the optimistic types which seem to abound everywhere. But even here I have found that reality is not to be outsmarted. It is true, your grandest plans will most definitely end in rubble as you intelligently knew to expect, but the timing, direction and velocity of the death blow will always come as a surprise no matter how creatively you tried to imagine the cloudburst that would herald your undoing.

In two weeks I am leaving the pastoral calm of the Great Plains of America to move to Europe. I have tried to muster my full powers of prediction to shed some light into the murky void ahead, like Pippin peering into his Palantir hoping to find some vision of what is to come, but I find myself unable even to imagine the worst since I really don’t know enough to imagine much of anything.

Sadly therefore it seems unlikely any expectations, suppositions or assumptions are going to get very much calibrated, inasmuch as I won’t have a clear baseline belief that I can point back to and laugh about latter.

Could it be that being so hopelessly clueless about one’s own immediate future that one can’t even imagine how it could go awry, is itself possibly the secret key to it going well?

I don’t know, but like I said – optimistic types abound everywhere.