Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Power of Ten

The turning of the decade had me thinking about the classic and cliché application/interview question: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now? Where indeed? Today I am less certain of the answer to that question then I have ever been in my life. I should be petrified perhaps but instead it feels OK; I believe that is because everything in the world seems like it is shifting so. I am no doomsayer but I do have a more than passing interest in the New Age; I am finding 2012 a useful benchmark to contemplate, more manageable since it is only two years out and it is long familiar - I remember the stories and prophecies about the date from my early days of reading science fiction.
In a related vein then, I wonder as well where our universe will be in ten years, or at least our planet – I should downscale my goals and wonderings, since I do have the tendency to be too ambitious and macro in my thinking. The world, the scale of things, and the power of ten all make me think of the classic short film by Charles and Ray Eames, which was also imprinted on me in childhood:

I am not sure why ten is such a powerful number, even though I understand how useful it has proven to us humans in creating counting systems for so many ideas in our world: years, ages, money and more. These things are the building blocks of our lives. In the same way that our bi-furcated bodies echo the dualities we so often notice, groupings of ten underscore much of what we are concerned with on a daily basis. As I embark on this new decade I want to keep this mystery about ten an open question, a thinking game and something to wonder about on occasion, no matter what answers have been given in the past.
Getting back to the interview question, we humans do tend to put a lot of faith in our ability to imagine the future and make it come true as we desire. But our lives, especially whole decades of them, contain twists and turns that make what we imagined seem suddenly or in retrospect impossible, unappealing, or beside the point. Without getting into any debate about the Law of Attraction, I think that part of the appeal of a decade is that it is still so far in the future that it seems like science fiction, a world that we cannot yet fully imagine and so carte blanche for us to let our imagination rip. Thoughts do become things but we need not be attached to all of them or hold them forever. It is sad then that in so many contexts where the question is asked the range of answers is actually quite constricted, a narrow band of what would be considered acceptable or pleasing. In my career counseling sessions I do bring up the question occasionally; most often I emphasize the irony of it or remind people that the point ahead in time is in reality a moving target, subject to revisions and romantic flights of fancy. These are personal lessons for me; I have experienced the limitations of holding onto both the past and the visions of the time to come even as they shift. A resolution for this year is to be more aware of how all is fluid and all is now.
On New Years Day a friend commented on the bliss of being in the present moment and how so much of our troubles stem from fretting about the future. This may be all too true, but if we would like our world to be here in ten years from now, in whatever form we may desire and presumably with humans still inhabiting it, then there are some things that we should be worrying about. Perhaps the power of ten can help here – letting us enjoy the moment (picnic in the park anyone? Well, maybe in the Southern Hemisphere…) while offering a way to remain alert to all that is happening simultaneously in the larger world and on other planes. A question of perspective, and framing and how to experience time; these are all good things to think about at the outset of a new year when we use our counting system to give ourselves a fresh start. Here’s to a decade of growing awareness, widening perspectives and multiple answers.
©2010 Leah Strigler


chayaruchama said...

"The best-laid schemes 'o'mice 'an'men
Gang aft agley "...

Best to attempt balance between the Now and the Future, my bonnie lassie ;-)

Fascinating thoughts to ponder, on the brink of a new decade....

dora said...

I enjoyed your essay. Trying to remember all is fluid is a tall order. Vibrations can affect fluid and much is vibration, so where do they fit in?

The Eames reference was appreciated, too. The museum at RI School of Design has a splint for returning war veterans that they created, as well as a chair.

Ask Leah said...

I remember a number of Eames chair designs from my childhood. Vibrations are energy and essential to the world's existence.