The Future as February

For as long as I can remember, I have known that staying wedded to the past denies the magic of the future.

It’s why I’ve always stayed open to what movies, music, fashion, technology, ideas, humans, nature have brought in next. It’s also why I love reading for people. I can see the whole of their stories; I can see them shine.

But this month—this bleak, rainy February—I’ve been realizing that I like my future best when it’s rolling in front of me like a red carpet or a yellow brick road, glittering as a promise rather than a manifestation.

In other words, I don’t dream of sowing my dreams. I dream of my dreams themselves– glorious sunrises forever igniting the horizon.

In other other words, I do not trust my future.

Granted, as we choke upon the ashes of our republic, this is a perfectly logical attitude. All it will take is one systemic climate change disaster to topple our grid into oblivion and our land into a militarized dictatorship, Octavia Butler style.

It’s fucking scary. But being alive has always been fucking scary. Just like striding boldly into the future has always required a faith that I lack.

Part of why I’m musing on all this is financial–aka I still haven’t come up with a long-term solution to my financial problems. But it’s also because we’re cusping on yet another Mercury retrograde—those suckers creep up with an alarming regularity-—and this one is mostly taking place in Pisces, which rules the emotional realm, divine information, and Kairos (soul time). In other words, ain’t no escaping my issues for the next three weeks.

Goddess knows that since I finished my bildungsRosman, I’ve become susceptible to the human timeline again. For nearly three years–since all my jobs ended at once back in 2017, basically–I’ve avoided the rushing-rushing of the river of life by living within the timeline of my book rather than kowtowing to any regular milestones. I’ve avoided weddings, baby showers, family. If I’m being honest, I’ve even avoided children and people in relationships. But time has continued to march on, and right now it is marching all over my heart.

Just in the last few weeks, my father turned 78, a kind extended family member died, my beloved Fairway may be going out of business, and a friend’s business, a touchstone of our neighborhood, is going under after that same friend’s wife, another touchstone of our neighborhood, died of a virulent cancer. Then there are the weddings and the babies. K got married to a woman who lives abroad and barely has been around for months and months. Crush has gone and gotten himself hitched. Even the kids in my life—the ones I still think of as kids—are getting engaged and having kids. My goddaughter is getting accepted to colleges.

Everything’s changing except for me. Which means that my life is changing, but only by default. Weakening eyes, perimenopause, grey hairs, the full weight of mortality–what ho!

I’m deeply happy for everyone I’m supposed to be happy for, even if that phrasing is highly suspect, and I’m deeply sorrowful about all the losses. Really, I’m feeling all of it—including self-pity, which I rarely indulge since once you fall down that black hole you may never emerge.

It’s not that I am upset about being excluded. It’s that I cannot envision a future in which I am happily included–a world in which my dreams can be realized.

And yet it’s also dawning on me that the future turns into the present turns into the past no matter how much shirk your own shadows.

I have had great love in my life and done many things I am proud of and also many things I regret. I have even learned from most of these experiences. But I’ve never marched boldly into the future so much as slouched towards Bethlehem. I’m so disinclined to impose anything on the rest of my life that I won’t get a tattoo, let alone sign on a dotted line.

But I can sense something in my future that’s as incontrovertible as the long-term effects of Donald J. Trump. I can see that the rest of my life is going to be as bleak as this awfully wet February if I don’t start making active decisions and active requests.

Sirens don’t just wait for signs. They send them.
Paintings: Alice Neel.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy