If you could find out details of your future, would you?

I’m assuming in this case that you wouldn’t be able to change what happens – anything that you found out would happen to you in exactly the way you were told.

In some ways, knowing could be reassuring. If we knew that things would turn out well, we wouldn’t spend our time and energy worrying about how life will go, and what to do with ourselves. Knowing that we can’t make “wrong” decisions would be freeing, in a way. But it could also be horrible.

If we already know if we’ll succeed, we don’t need to put in energy to doing our best. If we know what we’ll end up doing, we don’t need to aim high, to imagine great things for ourselves, to have ambitions or hopes or dreams. And if we in fact know that we have failure or pain in store, what then? Could you go through enjoying life and trying things knowing that in the end you would fail? Could you make the most of your time, lose yourself in love for someone or something, knowing that it’s only a short time until it all falls apart?

I don’t think I could.

What excites me is possibilities, and they are scary. I’m young, I don’t know what I’ll end up doing with my life, or who, if anyone, I’ll spend it with. I can work hard at things, knowing that there might be a reward, that things will probably go better if I just push myself. If I already knew what would happen when I tried to do something, or when I met someone, life could easily become rather boring. I’d just end up disinterested, lazy, and discontent.

And if I knew I would fail, I don’t think I could grin and enjoy the good times knowing what was coming.

I might find it pleasant to have some vague reassurance – that overall things would be ok – but I don’t think I want to know any details. I’d rather find them out for myself the hard way.

It may even be like quantum states – until someone takes a measurement, it could be any of a large number of possibilities. If finding out the future was what fixed it, would it be better to do so, or to wait so we can try and make it as good as possible first? If not knowing left the possibility of changing it, I’d rather know I was able to make a difference to the future. If we know we cannot change things, what has happened to our free will?

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