Planning for the darkest timeline


Gail Vaz Oxlade has a saying, “You can have it all, you just can’t have it right now.” In general, that is great advice. It’s always good to stop and consider what the price of your decisions are – not just in the moment, but in the future as well. You CAN buy that 60k car on a long payment plan but 8 years at hundreds of dollars a month means you can’t do a lot of other things. It’s all about choices.

But standard advice goes out the window when you don’t know what the future holds.

Of course NONE of us know what the future holds. Anyone of us at any time could get an aggressive cancer or get hit by a bus. In the past five years I have known two people my age who have died from respiratory failure after contracting a flu. People who were on the young side of middle-age. But healthy people generally plan for the future by believing that they will be much like they are today. We know intellectually that we will be X years older but the brain has a hard time imagining its future self.

But people like me who have chronic, degenerative illnesses know that the future absolutely holds a best case/worst case scenario and both are pretty dire. However, like most of you I hold onto that best case scenario imagining that my mobility and speech won’t deteriorate much and that life will continue as is. It’s a textbook example of wishful thinking.

However, because I am a planner I like playing with various outcomes in my head and with my life decisions and one of those scenarios is always inevitably the worst case one, the darkest timeline.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope that a myriad of things occur: a plateau that stabilizes my condition, a drug that mitigates the worst symptoms, a cure. But planning on hope leads to disappointment. Planning for the darkest timeline may lead to a happy surprise. So all my planning assumes that within 10 years I will lose major functionality and all my decisions today rely on that assumption. So the next ten years where I had planned to save like crazy, pay off the mortgage, and then travel the world for a while with my family? GONE. I have to face down the reality that I may not be here in ten years, and that chances the order of things drastically.

Inaccurate representation of my life

Because most travel requires mobility and (being alive) I may not be mobile for long, it makes sense to throw caution to the wind and get on it. Sure, there are travel companies that specialize in disabled travel but like everything else there is a premium disabled people pay. Most budget-friendly travel is inexpensive because you are able to a> pick-up-and-go with only a small amount of gear you can carry yourself, b> stay in less-than-accessible lodging, and c> is designed so you cover a lot of things on foot. Many places that are interesting to see are also have cobblestones, stairs, and other challenges that make being mobile important (Incas, why you gotta build stuff SO HIGH?). Also, traveling as a group of four is already expensive enough so the more we can do it while I am mobile, the more we can see over time.

In the darkest timeline, priorities change. It is way less important to me to pay off our meager mortgage right now than it is to take that money and see as much as I can see of the world. I know that Mr. Tucker and I can manage our small mortgage, so it makes sense to funnel all of our extra dollars into travel. In the end, life is about living and living it as genuinely and as enthusiastically as you can, while you can. So if you see dark clouds on the horizon you may want to switch direction. Sure, the storm may pass but if it doesn’t you’ll be kicking yourself for seeing it coming and not altering your path. I see the storm coming. I am changing directions.