The radical unpredictability of the future

“For the last week I have been playing a game. I have been trying to predict what I would be doing in five minutes or in two minutes. I have found that no matter how hard I try I am more often wrong than right, and when I’m right it’s obvious that this outcome has been reached so precariously that the results seem accidental. I have also been struck with the radical difference between my fantasy about the future and the actual experience. My prediction is at most a vague picturing of a category of activity, whereas the experience itself is made up of mood, thoughts, bodily sensations, detailed perceptions, etc., none of which is exactly like what I have experienced before. I have discovered that when I am conscious of the radical unpredictability of the future — even the immediate future — I find it impossible to be discontent. Discontent seems to be a false concept of time. It leans on my expectation that what is to come will be ‘the same old thing.’ I cannot expect imminent change and remain judgmental of the present.

I am noticing that when I am bored I think I am tired of my surroundings but I am really tired of my thoughts. It is trite, repetitious, unobserved thinking that is producing the discontent. Adopting a quite awareness, a kind of listening attitude, usually freshens my mind and brings the situation I am in to life.”

— Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself

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