Skip to main content

when are you?

I am not a big history fan. This can be a bit challenging when so much of what I am studying, especially this term, has to do with history. Some of my colleagues love the adventure that comes with a sense of the past, and historical details come easily to them. I tend to struggle a bit more with this linear way of looking at the world and have to make an effort to grasp the bigger picture. But there are other things I do see quite well, like the human element present in history and the impact of interesting personalities in our world. This is because I am basically a PRESENT person.

If you are a PAST person, you tend to think about what has happened. On the plus side of this, you would make a great history professor and can handle a great deal of information and detail about events with relative ease because the past is important and interesting to you. The past is also stable - it won't change - which, although it means that you can't alter it, also means that you are always dealing with something known. Of course, parts of history are somewhat fuzzy, open to interpretation and reinterpretation, and research can always reveal new information, but all in all, it is pretty concrete. It has brought us where we are today; it provides us with context. On the other hand, a person who likes the past might have a bit of difficulty dealing with the challenges of the present and the unpredictability of the future. Persons who emphasise the past can have a disinclination to move on, they can get stuck in a moment (as U2 put it in their song). Unforgiveness and bitterness can be some unfortunate side effects of focusing on the past. On the positive side of things, some great lessons and insights can be gleaned from the stories of those who have gone before us.

If you are a FUTURE person, you are most likely filled with hope. You are always waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. Who knows what could lie ahead? You could win the lottery tomorrow! You could meet the love of your life next week! You could get a fabulous job offer! There is so much to look forward to, indeed, but being a person who is always looking ahead can also mean that you fail to deal with the challenges of the present. Some people who are looking ahead are very diligent planners. This is a very good thing, though they sometimes get disappointed when things don't turn out according to plan. Others futurists are doomsayers, looking ahead with trepidation, seeing the road ahead getting rougher and rockier. For the most part, looking to the future is captivating because it is unknown. You can basically make up anything you want and it might happen! The great thing about forward-looking people is that they are always considering multiple possibilities. Unfortunately, the down-side to always having an eye on what's coming up is that you might miss out on what's happening right now.

I am a PRESENT person, I admit it. What is happening here and now is what I most relate to. Anything that calls for a spontaneous act in response to the opportunity and vibe of the moment is where I shine! The down side is that sometimes I don't think about the consequences of such acts. I can also forget to consult the wealth of information that is available to me in order to put today's spontaneity into context and infuse it with wisdom. I try not to live in expectation of the future or in disappointment with the past, which has its pros and cons. Realism and contentment are the pros. Hopelessness and ignorance are the cons. The PRESENT person might also find themselves unprepared for some very tough situations, and simply relying on their 'go with it' skills might not be enough.

It seems likely that everyone has a tendency towards one of these, and for good reason, because we need all of these perspectives (I need some good PAST people to help ground me and some hopeful FUTURE people to help me see where I am going). A whole bunch of PRESENT people makes a great improv group, but not a good financial advice company. A room full of PAST people can clean up in any trivia game, but don't ask them to be at the forefront of change. The FUTURE folks can produce an inspiring sci-fi movie, but would no doubt lose patience with a group therapy session working through issues.

I am working on developing my PAST and FUTURE skills, but I know my strength is in the PRESENT, and I want to bring everything I can to it (spoken like a true PRESENT person!).

Jesus said, "I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I'm the Sovereign-Strong." (Revelation 1:8, The Message) Thankfully, he's got all of time covered, so I can always look to him for a bigger perspective and trust him with what I don't comprehend. Yes, may he be Lord of my past, my present, and my future, and may I view all of these in light of Him.

This is a picture of the stairway in the lobby of the W Hotel in Montreal taken on Saturday night. I love their inviting and mysterious nature.


Anonymous said…
Another con of PRESENT people . . . self-gratification?
Matte Downey said…
very true, but spontaneous acts of kindness are a definite PRO!

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

building the church

Imagine two scenarios: 1) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Ask them to come together and put their sticks onto a table. Invariably, you end up with a random pile of sticks on a table. 2) Give every person in the room a popsicle stick. Show a picture of a popsicle stick bird feeder and ask people to come together and put their sticks on a table according to the picture. You will end up with the beginnings of a bird feeder on a table.

What is the difference between the two scenarios? In both, each person brought what they had and contributed it to the collective. However, in the first scenario, there were no guidelines, no plan, and no right or wrong way to pile the sticks. People came, placed their sticks on the table, and walked away. In the second scenario, people were given a plan to follow and as a result, something specific was built. Instead of walking away after they made their contribution, people huddled around the table to watch what was being built. Some were…