Predictability: Friday Morning Coffee #80

I think it is an innate human desire to know the future. I don’t mean the future in a macro sense, though some would like this as well. Not all of us want to know exactly how the events of the world or our lives will end. But in the micro sense, I have yet to meet someone who isn’t guilty of the itching desire to know what’s coming.

As children, we ache to know how the story ends. Some of us became so consumed by our curiosity that we skipped ahead to the last pages prematurely, just to know what would happen. We shook Christmas packages or sought out their hiding places, eager to know what we would receive Christmas morning. We wanted to know how much longer, how much further. Are we there yet?

Adults are more subtle, with our words like “prediction” and “forecast,” but the same desire is there: what is there, what is coming?

This morning, I sit in the crosshairs of two of the worst culprits of this desire to predict: a major snowstorm and the end of pregnancy.

We scan the forecast obsessively. How much snow? When will it start? What if the storm shifts? Under it all, the same basic desire - tell me what will come, speak the future to my present.

We wonder when she’ll arrive. Friends, family, even strange women at the grocery store make their predictions. “Do you feel anything?” they ask. What about that twinge, that itch? Are they signs? Google provides me with a litany of other people’s aches and pains, cravings, and strange behaviors, all in answer to a chorus in unison: when will it come, how can I know? Are we there yet?

The reality in both of these situations (and many others) is that we can’t predict what will come. The snow will fall - or it won’t - and it will be what it is, in spite of science’s best predictive powers. Our baby will come when she comes, as has happened for countless years. I cannot know. Cannot predict. I can only wait. I must sit with mystery.

Ironically, it was infertility that prepared me for this lesson of pregnancy and parenthood. I am not in control. Concrete future predictions are an illusion. The future, this world, this child, even my own body, are not fully within my grasp. It will be what it is. We will take it as it comes.

So as the winter sky grays and the snow begins to fall, as the box marked “baby day” draws closer on my calendar, I pray this strange and uncharacteristic calm continues to abide in my heart. I will sit with the mystery. I will wait.