The Bright, White Wall of 2007
The key, I have found, to extrapolating the future is a hyperawareness of the present. This I have had since a very young age, a capacity, and even an overwhelming desire, to watch and watch and watch. Combine this with the capacity to form pictures in the mind, vivid as the snow scenes in old fashioned novelty paperweights, and you have the mechanism for prevision of the future. It is not ESP or anything like it. It is logical extrapolation in a visual form.
Of course, the visions are not always true. But then, again, they are seldom wholly false, having about the reliability, I have found, of a five-day weather forecast rather than a twenty-four hour one, and, like weather forecasts, can only be articulated in terms of probability rather than certainty.
Immediately following the 2004 election, my visions showed me something I had never encountered before. As I attempted to extrapolate current trends to examine the possibilities for 2008-2012, I ran into a bright white wall somewhere around 2007. I didn't wholly know what to make of it then, and I still don't. For that impenetrable wall to vision still arises in my mind whenever I try to extrapolate to the future.
After reflecting on the first encounter, the thought flashed through my mind that maybe my sight was blocked because I simply wasn't going to be around to be involved in 2008-2012. I have lost about 15-20% of healthy functioning over the past 2-3 years, the most serious decline in personal health (from a physically active and demanding job of cabinet making) I have ever experienced. It has been the first serious evidence I have ever had of the possibility of my natural death.
Up to now, accidental or violent death has always been the strongest possibility for me. I have had quite a few near misses over the last half century: choking as a child, a number of traffic accidents and near accidents, a couple of incidents of vaporous poisoning, and one harrowing time on the wrong end of some guns. But, up to now, no serious threat from disease has ever appeared to me.
Now I have no idea whether the question that arose unbidden in my mind is something to be taken literally. But one can take it, perhaps with profit, hypothetically: if my death really is that close, do I have much commitment to staying around?
I really don't think I do. My rather small and emotionally distant family has left me for good--so much so that I am largely bereft of defining social relations--no one's son, no one's brother, no one's father, no one's uncle. My few friends, made in the course of a couple of different careers over the years, have been carried by the flow of life, time, and career to other places and to mental spaces where a Christmas letter is all I can expect from them, and often not even that. The careers themselves have all come apart from under me, quenching any worldly ambition in the process.
All that is truly left is Buddhism, and the love of my companion. I have still the ability to gather the accumulation of merit and dedicate it to the enlightenment of all. But past a certain point, sickness and old age render the basis for this, in a given human birth, ever more tenuous until, at the end, one is only running on the karma that brought one to this life. Why cling to that karma since it is merely sand running rapidly to the bottom of the glass? And no love whatever can overcome death once the karma driving life has run out.
One can also profitably look at this line of reflection in the opposite direction. Perhaps what is running short is the world rather than myself. Not that the world will stop in 2007, but that the lines of extrapolation from the past, from the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression, and World War II are finally playing out and we are heading toward a future that is truly more fluid and less fixed than that of the century which preceded it, more open to the winds of chance and more pregnant with possibilities, both good and bad, than any time since about 1500.
Maybe. Maybe not. All I really know is that bright, white wall is still there every time I look and no vision penetrates it. No new American presidential candidates emerge, no war specifically looms on the horizon, no spasm of economic volatility at home or abroad seems nailed down to a precise date, and no place in particular for me appears to exist there.
Strange, isn't it?