Stories for Lent: #21 Looking to the future

A prompt offered by my friend J.



Dear future,

I look toward you and let me tell you, I am piss-scared. If I must be 100% honest, I cannot see you at all, and that makes me feel all sorts of fragile.

It’s weird, isn’t it? I used to be so optimistic, even when I wouldn’t acknowledge it. I used to spin sugar and college brochure promises into visions of you, sleek and sparkling and pastel-colored. I dreamed of you as I would dream of a handsome prince (and you did involve a prince, for a while). I dreamed so much that I left solid ground behind entirely.

But now, dear future, you and I find each other at crossroads. Because I cannot see you, and I have no idea what you see when you look at me. Do I seem like a Successful Woman material? Great Adventurer? Housewife? All three? None of the above? Nothing at all?

My brightest dream was becoming wildly successful in two different fields, one of which, of course, was creative writing. And I was afraid, deathly afraid, that I wouldn’t have it in me to be a writer. But now, now I find myself faced with the possibility that there may be no place for me at all in writing or any other field. I cannot believe I’m good at anything, let alone great. I am convinced that my successes so far have been a fluke, and the only reason I’m not languishing in an alley somewhere is because I got lucky with my family.

Are you laughing, dear future? Because I’m not. I give money to homeless people on the street but cannot meet their eye, because this is what I believe I will become. This is what I believe you are, and I’m afraid of acknowledging that.

I know you cannot speak to me, or give me a sign. That would be cheating. No person knows their future from the get-go and no person ever will. It is the contract we sign – otherwise, we wouldn’t bother trying at all. Trying to be better, trying to make the world better, trying to be good to others as well as ourselves. It is the hope that we have a say in what the future looks like that drives us out of bed in the morning.

But what happens when you grow tired? What happens when the effort to make the world a better place is greater than your faith? Right now, my Facebook feed and my email inbox are both flooded with urgent appeals – species are becoming extinct, war is ravaging the lands, poverty is growing, greedy people rule the world. My problems are ridiculous in comparison, but I feel helpless all the same. I try to do my bit, I try to help wherever I can, and then I’m told that I’m running myself ragged and need to stop, and it is bloody painful.

Dear future, I am scared. I try to let go of any notions of grandeur, but it feels wrong to be sitting by the wayside, tending only to my own wellbeing while the world seems to be falling apart… and yet this is what everyone tells me I should be doing. Tending to myself, so that I may tend to others. I’m not good at this. I feel like a complete and useless fuck.

Tomorrow, I will get up and go on with my life, and push, and push, and push so that I’m here when you come around. I believe in you, deep down, even when the spark has grown so dim that I want to cry, and the cold is making the tips of my fingers turn blue.

But for now, for tomorrow, and every tomorrow thereafter, I remain, ever yours,


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