It happens so suddenly sometimes. You are just walking along, humming, and minding your own business. When out of nowhere, your past future just jumps up and slaps you in the face!
You know past future. The future you thought you were going to have before your life suddenly changed and everything got re-arranged. The future that was expected and hoped for but now will never be. The neighborhood you planned to move to, the business you were going to start, the relationship you were going to have, the house you were going to build, the kids you were going to raise, the job you were going to get.
And like a slap, it can leave you dizzy with your ears ringing and tears stinging your eyes. It’s a terrible deja-vu. A taunt from the past.
You see a young couple walk into a house in the neighborhood you dreamed of living in and they just look so much like you. You find the exact name you had picked out for your business on someone else’s art fair booth. You smell the dinner he used to cook for you but now cooks for someone else. You go to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and realize she is turning the same age your kid would have been now. You receive a business card with your title but another person’s name. You notice your engagement ring on someone else’s hand.
Your head swirls and reels through all the “what-ifs” and “if-onlys” like a nightmare carousel ride. Your imagined and expected future flashes before your eyes in a startling technicolor array.
And then just when you wonder if you might go crazy considering all the former possibilities that now will never be, the wild ride slows to a stop and your heart and mind settle back into the here and now. You remind yourself again that none of that future was ever a promise or inevitable. You calmly explain to yourself that there will always be grief and maybe a little regret for what “could-have” been but that you really don’t want to waste the present you are living now by focusing on a future that will never be.
So you put one foot in front of the other and start softly humming again until your back straightens up again and your gait becomes confident again. And you keep walking through the present with your eyes and your heart and your mind wide open into whatever your future future will be.