I had just received a rejection notice after a series of promising interviews. It was implied that I wasn't qualified for the position because I didn't currently have the position. I was in no mood for a lecture. “There's a lot to think about.” I answered defensively.
“What do you lack right now?” he asked.
“A job.” I answered immediately.
“Why do you want a job?”
I was flabbergasted at the foolishness of the question. “Because I need money. Having a job will let me pay for food and rent. If I had a job I'd be able to afford to make comics and learn programming.”
“Are you working on something right now that you find rewarding?”
“Well, yes.” I had received a commission to edit and enhance a presentation for a small business, a field of work I was increasingly finding interest in.
“Do you lack food right now? Are you hungry?”
“No.” I grudgingly admitted. Breakfast had been tuna and eggs with vegetables; the commission had allowed me to pay for this month's groceries.
“Do you lack a place to stay right now?”
Again, I answered with annoyance, “No.” I had moved in with someone a couple of weeks ago. They were generously allowing me to live rent-free in a small room until the first of the year. “But in two months--!”
“I didn't ask about 'in two months'. I asked about now. Right now, do you lack food and shelter and something satisfying to work on?”
“Not this very second, but I'm trying to plan for the future. I have to keep looking for a job so that I can stay afloat.”
“Have you applied for all of the possible jobs in this area that you're qualified for and that can give you the income you need to survive?”
“Yes! You already know that!”
“So you have applied for these jobs, you have food, you have shelter, and you have something which you enjoy working on, all taken care of at this very moment. Is that right?”
I set my jaw and answered truthfully, “Yes.”
“You have done everything within your current sphere of influence that you can. Not worrying about the future is not the same as refusing to plan for the future. Yes, you will have to deal with problems as they arise, but so far you've been able to adapt just fine. What in the world makes you think that this time, of all times, you're doomed to failure? Worrying about the future doesn't strengthen your ability to deal with it, but it does weaken your ability to appreciate what you have at this very moment.”
It took me a day and a night of mental argument to admit the point. I imagine that I will continue to learn the lesson throughout my life.
Each day I send out new resumes. Each day I try to work on something that helps me to better myself. Each day I have been able to eat the meals I need to stay healthy. Each night I sleep in a bed under a roof.
These things are only possible for me to have because I make choices on a day-by-day basis to take advantage of the unexpected opportunities that come my way. In the past, worrying about whether or not I would have my needs filled did not increase their chances of fulfillment by one iota. Every opportunity for success or failure has been a surprise that I did not see coming.
I think, then, that I will make this choice: I will not worry about what my future may lack. I will appreciate what my present has.