Advantage of Foresight
As you’re stumbling through your dusty attic, scouring for valuables you could potentially market on eBay, you come across a withered monkey’s paw. But before you begin screaming and hurl it out the nearest window, something stops you. You remember your grandparents telling you that there was something magical about this frightening artifact; it could grant wishes.
Skeptical of its power, you hold the grotesque object for a few seconds before whimsically wishing for something. Certain that it would be a useful gift, you whisper, “I wish I could predict the future.” A loud clap of thunder echoes across the sky, and you realize that your wish has been fulfilled.
But the vile monkey’s paw does not operate without a price. Indeed, for every time you peek into the future, you lose a day of your life. Pretty awful, right? You probably should’ve thrown it out of the window when you had the chance.
If I were in this absurd and confounding situation, I’d strive to forget that I had the power at all. Alas, this would be the best way to prevent my future use of my destructive power in a moment of anxious weakness. What exactly do I mean by that?
Suppose I was on the verge of taking a major exam that could dictate the course of my academic career, let’s say the MCAT. But just before, I could eliminate whatever anxiety I was experiencing by simply looking into the future. If I were to receive an excellent grade, I would confidently take the exam, knowing that success was to be the only result. If I received a dismal or average score, I would take the exam in hopes of improving or reversing what was to be.
But alas, the result of such an action would be a day less of my life, something too precious to lose. While it may be very self-important to say so, every day my heart beats, my eyes open, and my brain processes reality, is invaluable. To me, time is the most valuable commodity, not mineral riches or the evanescent praise of others. While I could get tremendous global recognition and fame for my ability to predict the future, just imagine the mortal cost! My reasoning lies in this: How am I to enjoy material pleasures, such as diamonds and gold, if I’m not around to see them?
In spite of my tremendous power, I wouldn’t be able to forfeit a day of my life to use it. Because every day is an opportunity for change, betterment, beauty, and love. And quite honestly, the ability to predict the future is vastly overrated.
Though at times we may be frightened or perplexed by the future’s uncertainty, we must continue moving forward, always hoping for the better rather than worse. If one claims that he could reverse some catastrophe that is to occur using preventative measures, I’d quote, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” Not one to plagiarize, I must say that was from Jean de La Fontaine.
Yes, it’s a pessimistic outlook, but it’s also realistic. Why strive to lead ourselves away from a potential future when it’s coming straight for us? That being said, if we know that we currently tread a dangerous path, we should take preventative measures. But we don’t have to look into the future to have an idea of where we’re headed.
In essence, after having been granted the ability to tell the future, I would never use it if it meant losing a day of my life. It’d just be too great of a price to pay.