Monday, July 12, 2010

I Want Not to Know My Future

Photo by Vanilla

The last 2010 World Cup match between Spain and the Netherlands will take place in two hours' time.

I am a soccer idiot. I am not about to write a critique on any of the matches and I am unable to say who will bring back the trophy. However, I do know that this World Cup has many unexpected outcomes, sending many strong teams home with their heads bowing low.

It is never easy to predict the outcome of soccer matches with absolute certainty (for that matter, any type of matches). That is one reason why
people would gamble with their own perception of the most likely outcome.

Can animals predict outcome?

In the midst of this once-in-every-four-year excitement, one octopus named Paul has been coolly predicting the outcomes of matches involving Germany. He has stunned the world with his impressive record of 100% accuracy. This 8-legged mollusk has just one more prediction to go before he hits pure gold. For the grand final, he has predicted that Spain will beat the Netherlands. (Watch Paul's video predicting the final match)

Besides Paul, soccer fans also look to other animals for their match prediction. Mani, a parakeet from Singapore has done a fairly good job alongside Paul and he has since become rather famous too. Mani has a different view from Paul for the final as he has picked the Netherlands. (Watch Mani's video predicting the final match)

It seems that the 2010 World Cup has somehow also turned into Paul v Mani. We shall know the verdict in a moment.

Photo by Vanilla

Obsessed to know the unknown

Mani's owner, a fortune-teller has claimed that his business has improved. People come to him to find out about their lives. Besides soccer matches, they want to know about their future wealth and health too.

Unknown is always fascinating and sometimes, disturbing.

Have you ever wanted to know about your future? If you have a predicting device which will tell you what is coming up, would you be glad to have it? It appears to be a fascinating thought initially but I am more inclined to think that it is a scary idea.

People can be obsessed with wanting to know the unknown because essentially, they do not like uncertainties. They want to know if the rest of their lives would be fine and they want to see if there is anything they can do to negate predicted bad outcomes.

Photo by Vanilla

Living with dying in mind?

We all know that our days are numbered but no one knows the exact number. There is nothing wrong with living with dying in mind. However, we must not live pessimistically just because the end is inevitable. Neither do we want to live in a death-defying manner.

I said in 'Coffin Academy - Dying to Live' that, when we are alive, we rarely give a thought to the things we can undo and improve while we still have the chance. Such thoughts may not come until perhaps, a near-death experience.

It does not have to be that way.

Photo of Oscar

What if we know our expiry date?

You would say, 'that is not possible'.

Are you being rational or are you merely being defensive because it is something you would rather not know?

In a nursing home at Rhode Island, a resident cat named Oscar is said to be able to do just that, ie. he predicts death.

Oscar arrived at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in 2005. He was a normal cat with the usual feline attitude. He would decide who to go to but never spend much time with anyone, unless he is in his last hours.

No one can explain why. Somehow, Oscar would curl up in bed with a the patient and give the most needed companionship to this usually lonely person. It is as if that were his way to say goodbye.

The nursing home has since learned that Oscar's persistent appearance with a particular patient is a signal to them that his final hours are approaching.

Book by David Dosa

After reading Oscar's story, I was amazed and frightened by his unusual gift. On one hand, I am deeply touched by the compassion shown. On the other, I am greatly disturbed by the possibility of death prediction.

Watch this video for Oscar's story. You may also want to read "Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" written by David Dosa, a doctor with the nursing home.

Photo by Vanilla

Putting future in our own hands

I have not come across anyone who is dying to know when he would die (pun intended). For that matter, I hardly know anyone who wants to find out much about his future. For me, I want to know none of those.

Life is unpredictable and I cannot write my autobiography in advance. However, no one says that I cannot visualize how this 'book' might look like. Our future begins now. Instead of allowing our past to rule the future, we can be the architect of our own future by drawing the blueprints today. Peter Drucker has said it well, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Who would you rather be?

Update: Spain brought back the 2010 World Cup trophy! Paul's right.

“My interest is in the future
because I am going to spend the rest of my life there”
~ Charles F. Kettering~
(American engineer, 1876-1958)

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