The future is a stranger that one gets to know gradually

This analogy came to me during a recent silent retreat, and came in the form of an invitation to imagine the future as a stranger. This not only introduces a degree of apprehension and trepidation of the future, not usually present when we imagine ourselves some years ahead, but also crucially encourages one to take a graded approach to planning, to not assume too much or plan too far ahead. Of course when one meets a stranger one may also be cautiously optimistic that this new person, who let us remember has come into our lives at a particular moment in time, may become an ally or friend at some point in the future, given sufficient time, energy and investment! However then there is a sense of the mind as resisting this notion, as if believing that if one focuses long and hard enough one can anticipate and know the future without having to wait. On the contrary, the future is built on moments and these unfold over days and weeks, each preceding the other, one influencing the next.

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