Day 26: How do you see your future beyond the state you are in currently?
As with anyone’s future, nondescript decisions made today can have a lasting, and monumental, impact on one’s future. You might decide to walk a different route to the supermarket, slip on a discarded piece of fruit and find yourself with a shattered ankle leading to months, if not years of reconstructive surgery. Alternatively – and on a slightly more chirpier note – you might accidentally bump into someone in the supermarket, be spellbound by their exotic eyes and find yourself, in several years, marrying them on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas. No-one knows the direction one’s life is going to take. Every decision we make has an effect, every path our lives take has an impact. That’s the beauty of the future; the unknown.
So how does one write about the unknown? How do you decide, for better or worse, what your future is going to hold? Well, the answer is simple, you pontificate on three possible outcomes – the reality, the unlikely and the dream – each of which being a possible route your life could take.
However much I am chagrined to write it, this is the most likely scenario in my future.
I will spend the next forty years of my life living in a town that I can’t stand, constantly waging a war with PTSD, social anxiety and the ups and downs of bipolar. Occasionally there will be periods of euthymia, periods where things work out, where things go my way, but for the most part I will feel depressed at the nothingness of my life and spend numerous months contemplating what might’ve been. Certainly there will be times when things get too much and I attempt to take my own life; but these attempts will fail and force me into the realization that I cannot achieve anything, that nothing I do is right and thus, it isn’t worth trying. This will cause me to give up and just live a routine based, monotonous existence where I make no effort whatsoever to change my lot in life.
Eventually I will give up on support services, leading me to live as a recluse, with little to no human interaction, causing my voices to become deafening to fill the gap. In time, my physical health will fail and my ability to walk and cycle will dissipate, this will render me housebound, causing my depression to increase ten-fold. Unable to leave the house, with no-one to love, I will slowly wither away and die a lonely, forgotten soul.
After several months the stench emanating from my apartment will cause someone to call the police and my decomposed body will finally be found. Autopsy reports will find that I died of a broken heart and I will be buried a pauper, in an unmarked grave, with no-one to mourn me.
The likelihood of this outcome ever occurring is slim to none, but as they say, never say never!
One sunny, inconsequential day I will be walking down to the supermarket when I look down and notice a lottery ticket sitting on the pavement. Attached to this lottery ticket is a note indicating that it has been left to be found; a random act of kindness from an unknown soul. I pick up the lottery ticket and pocket it, thanking the person who has left it with a cheerful nod. Later that week, after randomly remembering the ticket, I check it against the numbers and discover – much to my surprise – that I have won $100 million! After performing what could only be called a merry jig of celebration I toast my good fortune with a glass of coca cola and head to bed knowing that my future can now be anything I dream it to be.
After collecting my winnings I go on a mini-spending spree, updating my wardrobe with stylish, eccentric clothes, donating several million to charities and treating myself to a first class round the world plane ticket. I visit India, Thailand, Canada, the US, take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Express and spend several long months touring Europe before heading home to Scotland, via my parents house in South Wales. Whilst in South Wales I decide to visit the Doctor Who production office where I score a walk-on cameo in an episode, a walk-on cameo that leads me to meet Jenna Coleman, whom I dazzle with my debonair wit and eccentric attitude to life. Enamored, she dumps her boyfriend and we begin a torrid love affair that eventually leads to our marriage. Shortly after, I write a film-script and decide to direct the film myself, casting my wife in the lead role. The film is an outstanding success; the critics love it, the general public adore it, and it sweeps the award ceremonies like nothing before.
Deciding to settle down and start a family, Jenna and I purchase a small cottage in the Highlands of Scotland and get down to making babies. Nine months later we are the proud parents of twin girls! Eighteen months later a little boy joins our fold. In between all the baby making, I have knuckled down to write my Inverness Chronicles, and shortly after, the first is published. It immediately becomes a phenomenon of the book world, unlike anything seen since Fifty Shades of Grey or the Harry Potter books. Within ten years I have written the remaining novels in the series, each received with critical acclaim, and slap myself on the back for finally getting my act together and writing what I have always wanted to write.
Over the years we travel with our family unit, exploring every mile of Scotland and Canada, happily wiling away our lives in marital and familial bliss. As old age begins to take hold we curb our traveling urges and settle back into our cottage, allowing our children to dote on us until, eventually, we die within hours of each other. Our funeral is held in the small Highland village in which we live and it is attended by hundreds of mourners, all come to celebrate our lives with song, frivolity and numerous jigs of remembrance. We are buried, side by side, in a cemetery overlooking a loch.
Although ‘the unlikely’ scenario would be a rather brilliant future, my dream future would be markedly different.
After years – if not decades – of hard work, determination and sheer-bloody minded stubbornness, I eventually reach a place in my life where I am no longer governed by anxiety or PTSD. Free from the crippling aftereffects of abuse, and with my new-found ability talk to other human beings, I celebrate my return to “life” by sparking up a conversation with a beautiful librarian. Charming her with my self-deprecating humor and dry, unadulterated wit, we agree to go to dinner where the courtship continues. After several months of dates, of varying activity, we fall deeply in love and, out of the blue, I propose to her as the sun sets on a beautiful beach. She accepts, and, unable to wait, we marry within months.
Our relationship – born out of a shared love of books, arts and culture, film and writing – continues to go from strength to strength. She accepts my bipolar, assists me with relapses into anxiety and helps me manage my occasional flare-ups of PTSD. To reciprocate, I shower her with affection, encourage her to pursue her dreams and assist her however and whenever I can. After a year or two, we discover she is pregnant and nine months later are the proud parents of a beautiful girl, whom we name Amelia, in honor of our favourite Doctor Who companion. We settle down to raise our baby, my wife returning to work whilst I stay at home to look after the child whilst writing in my spare time. This writing eventually pays off when my book – The Ghosts that Haunt Me – is accepted for publication. To celebrate we fall beneath the sheets and, nine months later, are the proud parents of a beautiful, bouncing boy, whom we name Alexander, in honor of our shared love of the Buffy character.
As my writing career continues – with successive books being published to middling critical acclaim – I decide to write an autobiographical account of my journey with mental illness. Using my blog as inspiration, All that I am, All that I ever was is published and soon becomes a minor phenomenon. Its publication leads to a new career as an inspirational speaker; recounting my journey to audiences of troubled teens, providing them with hope that their future can be something wonderful, and needn’t be governed by labels or psychiatric conditions.
When our children are a little older we decide to move from Australia to Scotland, where we buy a house in Inverness. In between school and work commitments – my wife taking a job at the local library, myself taking on public speaking engagements – we travel the length and breadth of Scotland, allowing our children to soak in and explore the rich countryside. We go Nessie hunting on Loch Ness. Ramble through the history of Glencoe. And spend weekends otter hunting in the wilds of the Outer Hebridean winter. We are not rich, we don’t live in a big house or stay in five-star hotels, but we are happy; blissfully so.
As time winds on my physical health starts to deteriorate and eventually I succumb to the ravages of cancer, a byproduct of my years spent as a smoker. My funeral is held in Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Sheil, and my ashes scattered in the waters of my favourite loch. Although not jam-packed, there are a number of close friends and family members at the funeral, celebrating my life’s good, bad and ugly moments.
In time, my wife and children overcome their grief and go on to lead happy, productive lives. She finds a new man to spend her elder years with, they pursue their dreams with relish and conviction; their hopes and goals being met time and again, out of the determination and self-belief their father taught them.
It means your future hasn’t been written yet.
No one’s has.
Your future is whatever you make it.
So make it a good one, both of you.
~Back to the Future~