Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Friday, January 21, 2005

What Colour is the Future?

Peel back a few more layers, like an onion, which, if you think about it, is only layers, layers of white or yellow or purple, starting with a dry, papery skin and changing to thick, fleshy, crisp portions encircling another layer, until you finally reach the middle of the onion, which can be white or yellow or green, but which is truly the future, the core which will sprout and send up a stalk which will flower and produce black seeds, which are again another manifestation of the future. Therefore, if we are to use the onion as our analogy for the future, the hue in question must be green, the colour of chlorophyl, of life itself using pure sunlight for food.

Sunlight, yellow, white, brilliant sunlight, which fuels the solar-powered batteries, the energy of the future; but what is the future? Is it tomorrow? Is it next week, next year, is it what we meet as we cross the street or turn the corner? The future does not rightfully exist, for it is only potential, like the stored energy in those solar-powered batteries, and as soon as we wake up and look at the calendar and realize that yesterday’s tomorrow is today, the future becomes the present and is soon relegated to the past with every tick of the clock. A life cut short is suddenly devoid of any future, any potential ceases to exist. The books one had planned to write, the paintings he would have produced, all fade into gauzy non-existence since they will never now be realized. They cease to be a part of the future. They lose all colour, and evaporate like the morning mist off the river.

How can you realistically answer the question “What colour is the future?” We already have fixed metaphors: His future was bleak. Her future was rosy. The future held a golden promise. We cannot talk about the colour of the future any more than we can describe musical sounds as colours, and yet we do. “A dark pall hung ominously over the future like the far-off fringed clouds raining on distant fields.” This is only a projection, for the future arrives steadily and inexorably, revealing itself to be a sham, a masquerade for our own fears and expectations. “The worst or the best is yet to come.” But what if the worst comes and then something even worse happens, or conversely, the best is followed by something even better?

I think I would prefer to go back to the original onion analogy and say that the future is white like an unmarked page or black like a blank slate. The future is pristine and unsullied, and that snow-white page or black, chalk-free slate only becomes filled with description after the future has already travelled its distance and become the past.