Yes, we can. I can see it.

I learned a new word today. Prolepsis is seeing the reality you’d like to have in the world. It’s anticipating. It’s a Greek word that means, literally, “a taking beforehand”.

Debaters use it to address rebuttals that haven’t happened yet. “I know you’ll say this, but…”

People use it to budget and plan for the future.

Writers use it to flash forward.

I don’t consider myself a particularly optimistic person. I see optimism as magical thinking. Optimists seem to have to overlook certain starker realities in order to maintain their worldview. To me, the difference between optimism and prolepsis is that optimists assume that the future is going to be full of rainbows and unicorns, but they do nothing to make it so.

On the other hand, prolepsis is more about having that vision, and then working toward bringing it about. I envision a world where we use a lot more green energy and the environment is all the better for it. But I don’t think it’s just automatically going to occur. A lot of scientists have to come up with ways to make this happen, and the stupid politicians will then have to be convinced that it’s more important than getting money from the fossil fuel lobby. (Vote!)

Prolepsis is all about being the change you want to see in the world. One of my favorite dear readers (Hi, Lyn!) once said, “What we don’t change, we choose.”

I couldn’t agree more. But making different choices to make a change, in many cases, has to do with anticipating the consequences of those choices. And that type of forward thinking is impossible if you don’t make room for a little prolepsis.

Practice prolepsis every chance you get. Don’t get caught up in the Trumpian negativity. Don’t think that the world is going to go to sh** if we don’t build walls and fear everything that is different from ourselves. Instead, think, “Yes, we can.” And then imagine what that would look like. And then do something to make it happen.

Let’s imagine that door, and then pave the long and winding road that will lead to it. Make the world a gift we want to receive. Onward!

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

7 thoughts on “Prolepsis”

  1. This blog just ate my comment before I could post it and I am in a less good mood than I was a minute past. Anyway, definitely a prolept [prolepsicle?] here. There’s 2 kinds of cynicism, the kind that says “The world is @#$%, and we might as well dissipate ourselves mindlessly, or still be productive and vote but endlessly gloom and doom and discourage the stuffing out of our kids, while we titter like subordinate hyenas” (How can people laugh about things that aren’t funny?) …and then there’s the kind that says “The world is @#$%, but it isn’t my fault and I’m going to do what I can, and save what’s worth saving, and never let anyone else get discouraged, and tell the truth, and my last act will be to hamstring whatever god tramples me.”
    That might be a bit simplistic, but it is why I saved a swamp and a library [all right, I had good people working with me.] If I had given up when some people blithely said it was hopeless, well, I wouldn’t be me.
    And I am reassured, when down, by recalling that so many other people didn’t give up either.
    Thanks for being one of us, and saying it well.

  2. We need a term for one who practices prolepsis. Couldn’t find one. Maybe procataleptics or forward flashers? Maybe not, as one sounds like a medical condition and the other conjures up images of perverts. Since you’re such a creative wordsmith I’ll leave it to you to invent the proper term. Does my anticipation of future negative effects of my terms and my solution of encouraging you to create a positive term qualify as prolepsis? 🙂 There was a great science fiction series called ‘Flashforward’ that was canceled leaving viewers with a frustrating cliff hanger but challenges imaginative minds to create an ending,

  3. A fine choice and I hereby nominate you official leader of our the Unified Prolepticians. First order of business should be getting your term legitimized or at least hash tagged. 🙂

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