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Cutting through expectations

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:38 pm

If learning about peak oil has taught me anything it is that we must all learn to expect the unexpected. A problem arises, however, as our expectations change; we think we have our bases covered and no longer need to expect to be surprised.

Making plans for the future need to be versatile. I have read some people who use this as an excuse to not prepare, they plan to remain mobile. How, I would like to ask, will you adapt if the future presents a surprise where one needs to stay rooted where they are in order to thrive? Just because we have been disabused of some false expectations does not mean that the future is obliged to meet our new one's.

The future is open. Even if certain constraints make a certain outcome necessary does not mean we know exactly how the path from here to there will progress. Even if we can know the megatrends for the next one hundred years, this is not the same thing as knowing how those larger trends will impact our micro-existence or that of our neighbors or children. The future is open. We need to continue to train our minds to expect the unexpected.

I suspect that we are facing a "Long Emergency," roughly analogous to Homer Simpson falling down a flight of stairs in slow motion. Yet as one who is responsible for others and committed to weathering the future as best he can I must also position myself, best as I can, for a fast crash more akin to an EMP attack on the United States or worse. There is also, I suppose, a slim chance that the energy fairy will pull something out or her proverbial rear end and something akin to business as usual will follow. I think this is very unlikely for a plurformity of reasons, but one must expect the unexpected. I will not sacrifice my one life on a gamble, either for or against the continuation of this population bloom which is 21st century humanity. I am living my life as I desire. Life is good.

This is not to say that some hard choices should not be made. There are plenty of creature comforts that I have eschewed because I see the wheels coming off, but these comforts are the things that I would not have remembered in 40 years time anyway. I have worked a little more and played a little less in the name of building a personal infrastructure for enforced simplicity, but I have learned a lot in the process, my character has grown, my children have been exposed to character building experiences that will make them better people. They will be better able to face the unexpected in their own lives, what ever that may look like.

So expect the unexpected. Be surprised by joy as well as prepared for destruction. A fast food employee who does not know me from Adam floated me two dollars the other day. I did not expect that. It felt good. I think I will relish that good feeling for a while and maybe be better able to expect it, or offer it, when the time comes.

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“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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