“When we get to the end of the story, you will know more than you do now…”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen
Who doesn’t worry about tomorrow? Life would be so much easier if we knew how things will work out. Knowing the future would reduce so much anxiety.
Or would it?
Everything works out one way or another. But we are anxious to know exactly how and when. What if we did know everything in the future? Imagine knowing all the joys and achievements as well as the disappointments, struggles, and heartaches that we will encounter on our paths. Would life be more or less enjoyable, stressful, or heart-wrenching?
We already get glimpses of the future. Science and technology offer opportunities to peak ahead and predict:
- Meteorologists give us a good estimate of tomorrow’s weather – but then we worry about the approaching fronts even when they don’t happen.
- Doctors assess medical results and offer prognoses that may or may not come to fruition. For example, my mother lived three years longer than doctors predicted.
- Genetic testing during pregnancy allows us to prepare for a new baby but knowing their sex takes away a bit of the delivery excitement, we still are concerned until we have that baby in our arms, and occasionally those predictions are wrong.
In spite of all the advances, our calculations are not full-proof and can promote anxiety in false information. In addition, media blasts of what may happen accelerate that anxiety by repeatedly disseminating dramatic potential stories in the name of “news.”
Only a couple of generations ago, we only knew what was happening at that time, or more often, what did happen. We had limited television channels, no internet, and one phone per household. News filtered in slowly, and by the time it was received, it was long over. We couldn’t worry about predictions that never were made.
Yes, Mr Andersen, we will know more at the end of the story. So, let’s try to relax and live in the moment. Let’s enjoy the story as it unfolds.
(Be a part of the US Catholic Book Club’s June reads. Read Hans Christian Andersen Illuminated By The Message, as well as other titles in the Literary Portals to Prayer series.)