Want to know if you have the necessary genes to live to be 100?
Apparently scientists have come up with a test to do just that. There was a time I would have been compelled to find out, but I don’t want to know stuff like that anymore.
I even used to wish life came with a fast forward button. I figured that if I could just zip ahead to the end and find out how it all turned out, then I could rewind my life back to the present and be free to enjoy the here and now without worrying or wondering so much about the future; sort of like scanning the last chapter of a book before settling in to read it from the beginning.
Of course, if I knew how my life ended I’d also know all the bad stuff that might happen which would make it hard not to try and change a few things along the way. And if I changed things, then the end wouldn’t be what it originally was and I would have to keep punching that fast forward button to see how the ending had been altered. It wouldn’t be long before the knowledge of the future would change from a gift to a burden. It would only be a matter of time before I’d end up on some street corner yelling at strangers who would pretend I didn’t exist. The standard response we give to people we suspect of being mentally ill.
This has never struck me as a very helpful reaction. Imagine standing in the midst of a sea of humanity in your darkest hour and not one of them will even acknowledge you’re alive. You talk to them but they look right through you and just keep marching by. It would be like entering the twilight zone. You’d start thinking, “Maybe I’m not really here. Maybe something wild has happened and I’ve turned invisible. Or I’ve entered a parallel plane of existence!”
It makes me wonder who the so-called “crazy” people really are; the ones reaching out to people who really are there, or the ones pretending the people reaching out aren’t there at all. But I digress.
The reason I don’t want find out about my future isn’t just to prevent me from growing a few rows short of a full garden. It’s more that as I get older I have learned to embrace the mystery of life. A little mystery can be a beautiful thing.
I was recently reading a book about garden paths. I’m a bit of a rebel and frequently read books of that sort of riveting nature. Anyway, the book featured all sorts of walkways of varying widths and materials. Some were wide and grassy, others narrow and paved. Some were very natural such as flagstones set into the earth, while others consisted of crushed white gravel. Some had archways or overhanging trees, while others were flanked by beds of tall flowers.
A lot of them sliced their way straight through the heart of the garden slamming into a wall on the other side. Since it was possible to stand at one end of the garden and easily see where the path finished there was little to compel a person to set forth. It was the sort of path that makes a person plunk themselves down on a bench and be satisfied with just looking.
Ah, but then there were the winding paths; the paths with no visible end. They curved gently around a bend and continued on out of sight, all but yanking a person off the bench and propelling them down the pathway just to find out where it would take them.
So here’s my point (and you were beginning to think I didn’t have one!) — if our life’s path contained no mystery would we even want to walk it? Or would we just park ourselves on a bench, stick out our stomachs and watch the world go by? Knowing myself the way I do, I have to confess I’d be on the bench. So thank you God for giving me curves in my road. But if you could shoo away any hungry bears that might be hiding around one of them, I’d sure appreciate it.
Shannon McKinnon is a Canadian humour columnist. You can read past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com