Everything You Want Has Already Happened, Just Not Yet.
Of course, that title doesn’t make any sense, not if you’re using dull old chronology to figure it out anyway. But it may actually still be true. Everything you need to put you into that holy grail state of tranquillity that is the closest approximation to true happiness that I reckon any of us can aspire to may have already happened at some point in your unknown future. That didn’t make much sense either eh?
OK, let’s assume that I haven’t actually stolen a trolly from the crazy shop and ridden it straight into a river of mental and go back to the beginning. Or the future…
Don’t worry, it’s on the Timeline
My best buddy and I were philosophising about our lot as we’re often apt to do; over analysing over a couple of tequilas, thinking about where we were, where we’d like to be and what obstacles, perceived or otherwise, stood in our way. And we concluded that in our glass half full worlds, and despite us both agreeing that a future unknown is both a daunting and wonderful thing, everything that was important, everything that we REALLY wanted had already happened in our futures and that we simply had not caught up with them yet. We called it the Timeline.
The Timeline isn’t simply rebadged destiny, or predestination; the idea that your life is set and that all events have been mapped out by some omniscient force. It’s a more earthy notion that you can relax a little into that daunting unknown with far more confidence than you thought you could risk.
Everything, literally everything; you, me, trees, buildings, the planet, the Sun, the Universe, even penguins, are all driving forwards through time in one direction, forwards. Inexorably and inevitably. When you finally turn up your toes, long after the mortician has had a laugh at your foresight to have a smiley face tattooed on the underside of your big toe when he’s tagging it (you have done that, right?) and you have long since decayed back into the very atoms that everything is made of and become a part of something or even someone else, your stardust will persist in the universe until the end of time (probably). So there’s that. What I’m saying in a less than normal way is that regardless of what you believe; fate, destiny or the beautiful chaos, time presses on.
What is going to happen to you IS going to happen to you. Whatever steps you take to steer left towards one thing or right to avoid another with all that free will you’re blessed with, things will still simply happen, good or bad. So for all intents and purposes, it may as well be preordained. It amounts to the same thing. Shiz happens. And whilst you can make informed choices that will definitely change your directions, influence your outcomes and help you dodge bullets, things will happen one after another right up until your time is up.
Buckle up, it’s gonna get Stoic
Here we’re going to dip really gently into a puddle of Stoicism; a pretty practical philosophy from some gnarly ancient Greek and Roman thinkers that is staggeringly relevant to the way we live today. One of the core tenets is that life is full of things that are either under your control; that’s the stuff you can influence directly or skip away from should you so choose, like your job or alcoholism, and things that are not under your control; the external things that ‘happen’ no matter what you do, like illness or the weather or another’s heart.
I’m not going to delve into that zone right now (that post is coming too, sorry), but the point Marcus Aurelius and Co were making is that when you have influence over an outcome, and the thing matters, then you get stuck in, do the work. But when it’s some external thing over which you have no control then you should work hard to quit stressing about it. Harder said than done of course, but you get the idea.
Slight digression over, back to the Timeline.
We look forward to the future in the hope that at the things that quell out ataraxia (that’s ancient Greek for peace of mind) will not erupt too often whilst all the rad stuff will rock up with gay abandon. But we also know that the future is unknown, literally invisible and that the past we’ve already lived, thus irrelevant. So how can we predict the good stuff for our timelines?
Our conversation might have gone something like this (in fact we have this chat a lot, so you can take it to the bank).
One of us: I hope we get to take a road trip soon; somewhere rad with lots of interesting people and fun experiences abound!
The other one: We already have dude – it’s on the Timeline, we’ll catch up with it soon!
Being a fountain and why it’s important to go first
It’s kind of a coalescence of two of our favourite ideas. 1. Thinking positively in a great big fountainy way; almost visualising the thing that you want seems to directly correlate with the thing occurring, and 2. The future may well be unknown and almost certainly not preordained, but if you get out there, doing what you love, being you and surrounding yourself with like-minded folk then something even better than destiny turns up. Opportunity.
Opportunity isn’t like fate and it isn’t some ethereal phantom that drops inspiring ideas in your lap when you least expect it. Opportunity is something you can steer towards, something that you can suck into your sphere of existence in a way that almost (but not quite) could be forgiven for feeling like the Universe has read that letter you wrote to it all those years ago and has finally remembered your birthday. Oh Universe, you shouldn’t have you naughty sausage! Opportunity is cooler (and more existy) than that. It’s what happens when you go first.
‘Going first’ is what we like to call the connecting fluid between two strangers (or you and the door to opportunity). It’s where you smile at a passing stranger and instead of giving you that “WTF are you smiling at me for?” look, instead they almost always smile back, even the stoney faced ones that look like they might crack if their lips are forced to curl upwards at a stranger. It’s almost like they were WAITING for you to smile at them. They just open up like a surprised but happy flower. The alternative? Just walk on by, no smile, no connection, no opportunity.
It’s not just smiling, it’s opening lines, it’s a few extra kind words with whoever you’re talking to, it’s opening the door, wading through that swampy fear and finding your self in a sea of opportunity. You just have to go first.
So it isn’t about fate at all, and it isn’t about all those external things over which you have no control. It’s all about you, how you choose to look at your deck, and what you do with the hand you’re dealt.
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Marcus Aurelius
Almost everything that you need to happen (as opposed to the material wanting that doesn’t correlate with happiness anyway) has a habit of materialising when you combine going first with opening up to opportunity. It’s almost as though it’s already happened, you’re just catching up with it. It’s on your Timeline.
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