The Once and Future Me

Meditation and yoga teacher Kelly McGonigal discovers how the future we imagine never arrives, but now is not so bad after all.


The receptionist gave my fiancé a funny look. “Are you sure she took the pills?”

Apparently, most sedated patients don’t jump up and dance when Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” comes on the office radio. My fiancé assured her that, yes, I had taken the sedative my dentist had promised would help me ignore, perhaps even sleep through, the violent separation of my wisdom teeth from my body. In truth, I had taken only half of one pill—just enough to release my inner Shakira, but not enough to render me unconscious. I had been waiting a long time to have this done, and I wanted to be awake for it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m no masochist, and I’m definitely not fearless. Why do you think those wisdom teeth were still in my jaw fourteen years after dentists started telling me they should come out? “The longer you wait,” they all said, “the worse it will be.” This was a bargain I was willing to strike. The teeth could come out one day, in the future, when future-me would be the one going through it. Future-me would be better equipped to handle the anxiety, pain, and swelling. Future-me…