Tuesday, March 01, 2011

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!