I grew up when the home computer was becoming popular and accessible. My parents first purchased a computer when my brother was in high school to keep better track of the books for our family farm. It had a green screen, no color. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying a good game of Test Drive.
In high school, there was one game I thoroughly loved though it frustrated me to death. “Myst graphic adventure puzzle,” as it’s called, was a game I was addicted to. Trying to figure out why in the world you were in this place; how to get from one place to another- it was so puzzling it made my head hurt. Yet, it was so intriguing that it captivated my attention. Why was it so frustrating? Oh, let me count the ways. It would often happen that as I would play, I would get pretty far down the game, only to realize that I was stuck. Why? Because I passed up a button, or turned a lever the wrong way 2 hours before and had to therefore go all the way back in order to move on and finish the game (a feat I was never able to do without a cheat book or sheet). This is probably why I haven’t really played video games in the last 15 years.
I’ve written before about my tendency to future trip. It’s part of my default, my way of escaping, my way of controlling–to future trip and try to come up with every possible situation so that I am prepared for whatever comes. Those of us who future trip know that you never fully know what is to come and therefore end up getting blindsided at some point. Or, perhaps by future tripping, we get stuck in the fantastical situation with villans, plots both major and minor, and in the end we defeat the enemy and become the conquering hero. But it is all fantasy. It’s things that have not come to fruition or realization and therefore, my emotional investment in it, let alone my time, is worthless.
Well, at least I have the tendency to live that way. And it sucks. It hurts. It causes anxiety, worry and grave concern. It definitely does not bring out the best in me, and I would assume, it doesn’t bring out the best in others around me either. This is control at it’s worst.
When it comes to over-working towards the future, CJ Casciotta writes in his short book “Branding is for Cows. Belonging is for People,” that “It turns out the cost does not come close to justifying the kind of Return on Investment we were hoping for, because the investment we were hoping for was fixed on the future, at the neglect of the present. It was 100% focused on doing without any regard to ‘belonging.'” Neglecting family and friends now in hopes for a great future for all of you together, just doesn’t add up. We’ll never see a return on that investment. This can also be seen in future tripping. At times my thought is that if I can control the future, then life will be better and easier. The problem is that we can’t ever, fully, completely, totally control every single thing in our future.And in order for me to actually try to control everything to that extent, will only push away everyone I love around me.
People get sick, pass away and lose their jobs. There are wars, economic down turns and factories close. We can’t change these things and we definitely can’t control them. And if we focus all of our energies on these things in hopes that there will be no chance for a misstep in the future, we have sadly missed out on the life that was being lived around us the whole time. We missed out on belonging. When we missed out on the present and focused on the future, we realize that the future we wanted won’t happen because we forget about everyone around us along the way. Perhaps the future we wanted may very well be living out in the present around us…we just can’t see it.
Jesus warned us of this danger by simply stating “don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” He was showing us that this way of life isn’t good for us. He was gently reminding us to simply trust in him. How simple yet so very hard.
For me, I realized that for too long I was running my life as if I was playing a computer game, a game of Myst-constantly doing, trying to get to the next thing, all the while disengaged with what was going on around me. Disengaged with the present has caused me to overlook Iris or important things to her that she values, time with my children or what they are excited about, even missing God in the moment because I was too busy thinking about next week. With the exception that Myst is not reality, the only difference between it and my life is that in life I can’t go back to change things. But I can chose to change things from this moment forward. We are given that opportunity thousands of times a day.
Do I chose trust every single moment or every single day? Nope. I don’t. I downward spiral into the “what ifs” and scramble and hustle for control. Just yesterday I did it and had to go make amends with a friend. I’m thankful for their grace towards me. It is a constant, continual choice to trust in Him, to believe in Him. God invites us on the journey of self awareness and of God awareness. Engagement is the only way that happens. May we all choose engagement for this moment, this day.
be blessed today