“When Nachiketa went to the home of death, he had to wait three days, until death returned. Upset by having the Brahman waiting, Death offered him three boons: (1) he could be greeted warmly by death, (2) he could live amongst the gods or (3) he could know the secret of himself.”
If I count the days in front of me I count an infinite number. It’s only infinite, because I refuse to measure the time I have left, not to mention the chances of my demise or possibilities for cataclysm. If my time isn’t infinite, than I’d rather it be impossible, because I’d rather not know how many days I have left. I can, however, count the days of my life if I’m willing to look back. So few are that memorable, but still there are ones that connect on an emotional level. You hold onto them when life shows its fangs. You take the good with the bad and then you move on. After a while, you look back and can say, ‘oh god… I remember that day… how in the hell did I ever get out of that mess?’
Now, considering the same physical model of the universe, we are interacting with others, as well as our environments. We can look to the past and say, ‘I remember that guy! Whatever happened to him?’, although we can’t do the same in the future. We can’t say that we know that someone is going to have such a major effect on our lives in the future. That type of logic belongs in the past. I can’t poke you in the chest and tell you that some day you’ll mean the world to me. The future reveals its truth through experience. You have to feel it. You have to accept it into your life with every passing day. It’s much harder to do, especially compared to how simple it is to reminisce about days long since passed. The ability of the mind to pull you back to ‘the simpler times’ cannot be overstated… or underestimated, because it comes with a cost.
The future lacks understanding and the past lacks context. From the present, the past seems like a long ride from one age into another, for which you never bought a ticket. It’s a blur to the present. The future never materializes. It’s a looming specter, for which we can fear, respect or, through a severe bout of mental gymnastics, do both. It’s our inability to control the future that makes it harder to move closer to it, because the further into the future you go, the brighter the distant past starts to look. The ever-looming specter of death is on the other side of the future, but the past becomes a comforting certainty. You can even connect with those for which you’ve lost touch. The past makes even your enemies seem… quaint. They lose that threat that they once possessed, when the past was the present and it seemed like you had to fight for territory or squabble over nonsense or oppose a certain opinion because it appeared to be an offense to your ego.
Hindsight is an impossible gift that could prove itself to be more of a curse. Some believe you can look into the future with the same pair of eyes and use hindsight to protect you. Fear of the future is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Witch doctors count the days of your life through chicken entrails. You kiss the back of his hand and say a few hundred ‘Hail Marys’ and all is well. It can, in the least, provide a bit of solace in a world that offers so little, but that’s not what these gifts are for. Hindsight, if used properly, can reveal an ugly, visceral truth. If we look to the future with those same eyes, if maybe we’re willing to ask a few questions and step a bit further with every passing day, the prospect of death won’t be so terrifying, but in the least, humbling enough that we accept our lot.