The Future Is Completely Open

Posted on 12 December 2011

The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” ~Pema Chodron

This quote reminds me of the song “Into the Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty. I play that song in my yoga class a lot these days. I love the freedom in it, the expansiveness, the hope.

My future is completely open and I am writing it moment by moment.

Phew! This feels good!

For a long time, I thought my future was pre-ordained.

My dad died at 38 when I was 8. What was I supposed to think besides this is when we die: at age 38.

Today is my birthday. Today I turn 37.

I was never able to visualize my future.

People would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up and I couldn’t answer. Nothingness on my end. Blank stares. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a morbid kid; I just saw a black cloud or fuzz or nothing when people asked me questions regarding any moment beyond the present. And yet, I was not present. It was a conundrum to say the least.

But you are such a great writer, Jen. You should be a writer when you grow up, Jen.

Nothing. Couldn’t imagine it.

Stop talking to me about my future. I already know what will happen and it doesn’t involve me writing.

I didn’t know what exactly happened when you turned 38 except: you didn’t exist anymore, so how in the heck was I going to be a writer?

I got a little older and a little wiser, and yet still, I couldn’t plan for anything. People would ask me what I was doing for the summer and I would have a panic attack.

I had a very hard time being able to imagine myself beyond the chair I was sitting in.

It was like I had a crippling fear of planning a future, any future at all, because I knew what was in store for me. I didn’t know when my time would come, but I knew it was in my genes.

I realized that I had a deep core belief that happiness was taken away from you.

Or let me rephrase: from me.

So why would I want to plan anything when it would be taken away from me? When my future was already written? My dad died at 38 from a stroke and I sat by on the sofa waiting for him to come. Instead they brought a box of Dunkin’ Donuts.

I still grapple with this. At times, I struggle with the feeling that my happiness is about to come to a crashing end.

Even though I am a successful yoga teacher who leads all these retreats all over the world, there is still a part of me that is scared to death I am doomed—that my future is already written.

And you can bet your best downward facing dog that I fight tooth and nail to keep this demon at bay.

So here I am about to turn 37.

Pema Chodron’s quote falls into my lap and I decide to take the bull by the horns. I am writing my future. I am writing it this very moment.

In fact I will write it a letter. I suggest you do the same.

It can go something like this:

Dear Future,

Here I am, writing you. Moment by moment. Let me tell you how excited I am that I have finally decided to love you. I know I have been on and off again with you. Mostly off. And frankly, I have been a bit cruel and ignored you often. But here I am. You are open and I am accepting!

I wanted to let you know that I will meet you there.

I will meet you with open arms. And I would like you to be prepared for I am about to take the world by storm.

Love, (insert your name here.)

I am about to turn 37 and in some ways feel profoundly sad. It has been almost 30 years now since my dad passed. He truly was my soul mate. And I am starting to forget. My memories have become memories of memories.

I also feel sad that my dad’s last full year of life was his 37th.

So, in honor of all that, I plan on living it up.

I mean, it’s wide open, right? The future?

I am traveling the world. I am laughing as much as I can. I am drinking wine. I am taking pictures. I am telling people I love that I love them. A lot. I am eating cheese after years of starving myself. I am taking risks. I am releasing all feelings of guilt. I am connecting more to my family.

I am doing all the things I know he would have done. Or at least wanted me to do.

We write the future moment to moment.

So I ask you: What did you decide about yourself before you realized that the future isn’t a narrow doorway leading back to the same old room, but rather a wide open field leading to the greatest version of yourself you could possibly imagine?

I urge you: Write down on a piece of paper your old version of your future that is without possibility and hope, and, as we do in my workshops, tear it up.

Put it in a pile. And label it: A Pile of ______.

I will let you fill in that blank.

It’s wide open.

Go for it. The future is yours.

Photo by Josep Ma Rosell

About Jennifer Pastiloff

Jen is the founder of Manifestation Yoga. She teaches yoga all over. Find her on Twitter and Facebook. She also started GAME Yoga. Gifts And Miracles Everyday: Free Yoga for Kids w/ Special Needs.

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