We don’t have a positive vision for our future, but we can picture a lot of different ways in which things may go badly for us. This lack of a positive vision seems dangerous to me because we so often realize what what we visualize.
We learned a long time ago that we couldn’t attract an audience for our magazines unless we gave our readers tools they could use to improve the world personally. A backyard organic garden is the perfect symbol of positive vision and commitment.
But it’s not our nature to sit around complacently waiting for the asteroid, not while we have this miraculous opportunity to preserve and enhance our planet. Just as we once visualized the first irrigated field, invented the first wheel and dreamed of machines that fly, we can visualize the earth as a beautiful and productive garden where millions of species thrive. Then we can build it.
We’re here to confront our own biology, the essential nature that tells us to keep reproducing and expanding. If you could view the entirety of human experience from the dawn of our evolution to the present, if you could pick the human century you’d like to witness first-hand, you might choose this one.
We are focusing our attentions in the wrong place. Motorcyclists, mountain-bikers, skiers and steeplechasers all learn the same lesson: When you have a lot of forward momentum you have to train your attention beyond the short-term challenges. You need to be thinking ahead. You need to form a picture of yourself successfully negotiating the coming obstacles. You have to visualize the successful outcome. Your reflexes and, hopefully, some previous visualization are taking care of the ruts under the tires of your bicycle. Your attention should be trained on the area where you will arrive in the next few seconds. Your mind visualizes the best route and your body begins making adjustments in your approach.
If you focus on the intermediate obstacle, you’re likely to hit that obstacle.
It’s recently occurred to me that I don’t hear anyone describing the world in which we want to live 20 years from now. Almost no one, it seems, is visualizing the successful outcome. We’re too busy arguing about where to drill for oil.