Monday, July 25, 2011

Plans, Hope, and the Future

As far as I know, Man is the only creature on the planet with a concept of the future and of hope, and which has the ability to make plans for the future based on that hope. The three words--future, plans, hope--fit together as closely as the stones in an Incan temple.

Hope is ingrained in the human spirit, and it is because of that hope we are able to view the future with confidence and make plans for it, which turn the wheels of progress. Hope engenders and powers plans which move us--individually and as a species--into the future. And while there is a considerable amount of overlapping and concurrency between the three, we move through life like a turning wheel: one revolution completed, another one begins.

Once again, I can speak only for myself and from my own experience--though as always I assume you and yours are not all that fundamentally different. In my writing, which is the bulk of my life, each book is a rotation of the wheel, and as the end of one book nears, the part of my brain in charge of such things starts planning the next. The achievement of a goal is not the end, it is the beginning of the next rotation.

I can think of nothing more terrifying than having nothing to look forward to; nothing to think about and plan for. With no hope there can be no planning and therefore no future.

The death last year of my longtime friend and onetime partner Norm provided me with the wherewithal to realize a major dream/plan: the return to Europe after fifty-five years. It was truly the culmination of a dream and a highlight of my life. I had really thought, when I returned from Rome in April, that I had put my foreign travel behind me. Travel is exotic and exciting, but it can also be exhausting: constantly packing and unpacking suitcases, catching (and sometimes missing) trains, scrambling to find and then adjust to the next hotel, the language of the next country, etc.

So that, I thought, would be it. And then a friend told me of a river tour she'd taken and enjoyed immensely. No constant packing and unpacking, she said. No trains to catch (or miss). And thus another rotation of hope/planning/future began. I'll be taking a fifteen day river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam aboard a brand new boat, in a tiny but comfortable cabin with a floor-to-ceiling window from which I can look out at the passing world. The ship moves from city to city at night. Each day there is a half-day tour in the morning, and the other half of the day is free to do whatever I want.

I know, this sounds like I'm bragging...and I guess I am, but please understand it's only because it is so unlike anything I've ever done and I'm so excited about the opportunity to do it. I fully realize how extraordinarily lucky I am, and that, again, were it not for Norm's generosity, it would never have been possible. And even so I find it sad that I am doing what Norm should have done with his own money--what so many people should do, and really realize the utter truth of the old adage that "you can't take it with you." So I'd like to think that he will be with me on this trip for which he is responsible, and I will do on his behalf what I wish he had been able to do for himself.

His death taught me that there is no point in denying ourselves those things we can, by whatever means, afford and infinitely enjoy.

Too many of us are too concerned with putting money away for a rainy day. This is an excellent and necessary plan throughout life...to a point. But there comes a time, as one gets older, that one must realize--as I do--that there are simply not that many rainy days ahead, so I intend to enjoy life as fully as I can, while I can, and not worry about rainy days.

My current hope/plan/future river tour will undoubtedly be my last "grand huzzah" of international travel, but it's a wonderful dream/plan, and I am delighting in the anticipation of it. And when it is over, I will find something else to hope and plan for, and to whatever the next rotation of the wheel might bring, because that's what we humans do.

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4 comments:

Eric Spector said...

as to future orientation in animals - birds prepare nests, dogs/ssquirrels bury bones/nuts, even cats prepare "homes" to protect their future kittens
their needs are simpler, so their future plans are simpler as well - Eric

PS envious - the river cruise sounds wonderful

Dorien/Roger said...

Thanks, Eric. Excellent point, and I'm sorry I missed it!

Kage Alan said...

D,

What a fabulous sounding upcoming trip! It sounds like you also took yourself by surprise. You know, as long as you keep doing that, it'll help keep you young at heart, too.

And who says it has to be your last trip? Keep the hope alive. Who knows? Maybe you'll join Ralph and I in Hong Kong sometime and can stare at the eye-candy with me while he stands by slightly annoyed.

Dorien/Roger said...

Hong Kong! What a great idea. But when I said this upcoming trip will probably be my last travel hurrah I meant in terms of money. As I said, I could never have afforded these two trips were it not for Norm. But the money is limited, so.....

But you're right...hope springs eternal.