“I am Lufthansa flight attendant Hans Schupfer and this is my crew manager Claudia Becker. We are very sorry to inform you that you cannot board this flight.”

“What? Why not?”

“If we let you on the plane, the Russian’s will not let you off.”

“What do you mean, won’t let us off?”

“See here in your passport: your Russian visa is only valid from the 19th. Today is the 16th. For the next three days, you have not a valid visa to enter Russia.”

“Then why did the Italians let us board this flight in the first place?”

“According to airline protocol, crew must check visa status of final destination prior to boarding. Italian crew in Rome should not have let you on board. But, you see, they are Italian…”

“So what are we going to do here in Frankfurt for three days?”

“Sir, that is your decision. We are very sorry…”

Our airport pickup arrangements in Moscow rush through my mind, our hotel reservations and travel itinerary bug me as we head downstairs to reclaim our luggage. These must all be promptly cancelled. We hadn’t planned to be here now; we weren’t supposed to be here now. We walk downcast, like a funeral party leading a member of their travel group to his final resting place: the interment of our foreseeable future.


“Do you have a car available?”

“Sie sind glücklich; we have one car available for renting.”

“How far is Munich from here?”

“Hmm, eins, zwei… five hours drive.”

“How far is Berlin?”

“Six hours.”

“And Strasbourg?”

“Good autobahn; keine speed limit. Less than two hours.”

A grove and vineyard rush past us, a village and church-spire speed by as we head unbridled to an unplanned destination. How heavy lay the yoke of expectation on our shoulders! How liberating does its removal prove to be! The mourning of our loss is now replaced by the thrill of plunging into the unforeseeable present.


Two months ago, we conducted an experiment on beperiod of living as if the minutest detail of our day was predetermined (read about this experiment here: Is All the World a Stage?) This coming week, let’s reverse the experiment and pass our day as if we were unable to foresee its unfolding.

In which ways would you be different if you lived in the unforeseeable present?

Image by Aero Icarus (shared under the creative commons license)