Predicting the Future

January 8, 2010

My habitual pattern is to drop my car keys on the kitchen counter.  That means it’s a pretty good prediction most days that the kitchen counter is where my car keys will be.

But that’s not true every day.

What if I arrived home last night really really really needing to pee?  The kitchen counter might not have been my first stop.  (Hopefully not, really.)

If I’m not paying attention at that point, those keys might be harder to find today.  But just the thought, “I better put these keys in the kitchen,” (followed by doing so) would restore the pattern, making today’s prediction of keys on counter a pretty darn accurate one.

Alternately, I might arrive home, keys in hand, enter the kitchen and think, “I’m tired of having things strewn on the counter – I need a new system.”  So, I find a basket or a hook or suddenly the potted plant by the door looks like just the right home for them.  Now the prediction of keys on the counter becomes a pretty bad prediction.

Knowing the future relies on these three things:  seeing the pattern that has come before, assessing the degree to which that pattern is in place in the present, and realizing how human awareness is operating in relationship to this pattern – either deliberately restoring a pattern that’s been disrupted, or intentionally instigating a change in pattern.

The future is easy to predict if it’s easy to see the pattern in the past, not much has changed in the present, and there’s little human awareness affecting how this pattern will move forward in the future.  But shift any of those and the future just grows in its mystery.