Fresh Perspectives You Can Use.

Paycheck : Do You Want to Know the Future?

PaycheckWould you like to know what the future has in stall for you ? In fact, the whole world is obsessed with the idea of knowing what will happen tomorrow, next week or in ten years time. The movie “Paycheck” starring Ben Affleck is a riveting thriller about the past and the future – and a huge paycheck he never gets.

Analysts make a fortune predicting the ups and downs of the stock exchange. We watch the weather report to see whether we can go to the beach on Sunday and try to pick 6 out of 49 numbers to win our first or second million – but none of these systems work with a great degree of accuracy.

In ‘Paycheck’, Ben Affleck is a clever computer engineer who develops rip-off computer products for high-tech corporations, but must always have his short-term memory erased after each assignment so that his employers can claim the copyright. In his job for the “Allcom” company, it takes him three years to build a machine that can look into the future – and is promptly swindled out of his paycheck.

But he knew what was coming and after his memory is erased, Uma Thurman as his biologist girlfriend helps him to retrace what happened in order to prevent a global catastrophe. That’s the plot, but why am I writing this ?

What struck me was a little sentence in the dialogue :

“Once you know the future, you don’t have a future anymore”.

I had never thought of that before, but it’s true. What is it that we call the future ? In my view, it is the sum total of all the interactions we still have to experience to fulfill the aspirations which we think will make us a more successful person.

In other words, the future – by definition – includes an element of uncertainty, and if you take that away, you don’t have a future. All you would have is a path on which you go through the motions, but what for ? And where to ? Life as we know it on this planet would be meaningless if we knew the destination of every road we travel, the outcome of every action we take.

We tend to forget that in reality time doesn’t exist. It is just a concept – a very useful and necessary one – that human beings have to live by in their limited consciousness to manage a number of experiences and learn from them. We cannot see both sides of the same coin at once, only one after the other. Even a mirror doesn’t help, believe me.

That’s precisely why we are so intrigued by the future – we want to know it all, right now : What’s going to happen ? Will we succeed or fail in whatever we are doing ? This curiosity is driving us forward.

We all know some people who couldn’t be bothered, of course : ‘Who cares what happens tomorrow, as long as I have a good time today’. We sometimes admire them because on the surface, they don’t seem to have any doubts in their ‘happy-go-lucky’ lives. If you are not driving your challenges, however, you will be driven and confronted with them – life will not stand still for you.

And those who constantly fear that some disaster is around the corner ? Looks like they magically attract every manner of misfortune and not make any progress at all – and yet they too will eventually learn from their continual setbacks.

There is plenty of evidence that some gifted people can in fact look into the future, though – what is it that they see then ? If there is no past and no future, all that really exists is the present moment, and each of these moments literally has limitless possibilities, more than we realize. What we get an occasional glimpse of is potential, a likelihood of events, but nothing cast in concrete.

The big chance we owe to ourselves is to shape that potential into something worthwhile and exciting and learn from it, with everything we’ve got. Since we all bring something unique to the party, imagine the endless variety !

Paycheck or no paycheck : life today is the real thriller, and I have my very own. So do you.


Thursday, 28 September 2006 - Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies

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