Was the Future Ever Certain?

Robyne Stevenson
4 min readMar 27, 2020

Everyone I talk to says the same thing. Everything is so uncertain. I don’t know what will happen and I’m anxious. I can’t make plans. All my plans are falling through. What will happen?

Humans are planners because we like to identify patterns and make things mean something. Because of that we assume we have some kind of ability to control the future, some kind of certainty exists. If it’s on my calendar — it’s real and it will happen.

But we must think about whether the future was ever certain. Just because we live as if it is, doesn’t mean it is. Yes, science can predict that the sun will rise and set each day. That’s a form of predictable future. That’s a far cry from — I’m having lunch with a new guy next week and it might lead to something, who knows it might be a relationship with a house and 3 kids. You get the idea.

In the age of covid-19 we have become painfully aware that the future is uncertain. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow, let alone next week or next month. We are sitting at home, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy — and we don’t even know what that is. We might be telecommuting or worrying because we are laid off. Our kids are home from school and we may be ensuring they are on-line for instruction or instructing them ourselves. How long will this last? When will we go back to our normally scheduled program?

Consider that the answer is never and see it as the greatest opportunity modern mankind has ever had.

If nothing else, this crisis provides an opportunity to be mindful and to be present. We can’t control the future, because it does not exist. It’s not real until it is and then it passes and it is no longer real. There is only the present moment.

This does not mean we can’t be empathetic about people who are suffering — we can. It does not mean we can’t be caring about our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers — how could we not? It does mean that we should be prepared — with food and supplies, paying attention to local restrictions, and national instructions.



Robyne Stevenson

I travel the country in my Airstream meeting people and enjoying life. I’m a writer. I was a Professor of Politics. Things change.