The idea that the people I’m surrounding myself with will most likely be on different parts of the country 10 years from now scares me. That the test I’m worrying about right now will have absolutely no meaning in the future. That of the thousands of hours I spend working the education system perhaps only taught me how to follow directions (Of course that’s not true, but let’s just pretend we’re all robots.) No one looks back on their past favorably. What will survive the test of time?
Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement, There was no planning for a career. There was no planning. No time for planning. No time for a future. But then the life spans started getting longer, and people started having more and more future. And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future–you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college.”
― John Green, Paper Towns
I always hear that it’s worth it to work hard now because it pays off in the future. However, the way I see it, either you enjoy life now and pay for it later or you work hard now and reap the benefits. Either way, you’re going to have to work; it’s just a matter of when. For now, I don’t exactly know how to enjoy life to its fullest, so the latter seems like the better decision.
There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?”
The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast. How long then?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student, “at each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”
As the youth of this generation, we have the responsibility to create, not simply live, the future. This is as big of a burden as it sounds. And I have no idea how it’s going to be done yet. (Then again, if someone could forsee the future, they would literally be superhuman.)
“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (…) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”