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/ Institute of Philosophy, Citizenship and Youth

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PhiloQuests: the day of worry

7. Imagination Excursion

Forecasting our future


ObjectiveTo envision a completely different universe in order to reveal the hidden dimensions of the concept of overwhelm!

Duration: 30 to 90 minutes


  • Sheets of paper and pens
  • Coloured pencils and markers


Thought experimentImagine a world where... a crystal ball could tell us the truth about our future if we were feeling overwhelmed by it! What would this world look like? Would it be fantastic or horrible? How would this world be different from ours? How would life change? Would you want to live in this alternate world? Why or why not?


  1. Think about the effects. As you imagine this world, you may start wondering about the value of knowing versus being left in the dark. If you could use the crystal ball, what would you really want to know about what your future holds? Would this new information help reduce your feeling of overwhelm… or only magnify it? Can knowledge be distressing? Is ignorance bliss? Make a list of three positive and three negative points of having access to this crystal ball, and add reasons to explain your impressions.

    • Variation: Consider how this world might affect life in different contexts, such as: relationships, school, jobs, government, art, religion, the environment, etc.

  2. Create a character. To take your thinking one step further, think about how this alternative world might affect different people in society. For example, what would a criminal want to know… or a very sick patient, a lottery player, a pregnant woman? Who do you think would most benefit from access to this clairvoyant crystal ball? Invent a character who lives in this world and write two short versions of their life story: one where they use the crystal ball to discover the truth about their future; and another where they decide against trying it. In your opinion, in what version of the story is the character least overwhelmed, and why? Describe their unique experience in as much detail as possible… and offer a little glimpse into their future!
  3. Represent this world. Based on your reflections, imagine how you could represent your impressions of this alternative world—through a drawing, a collage, a diagram, a poem, or a dance. Your style can be realistic, abstract, comic, dramatic, etc. How could this world help us better understand—and even improve—our own?


Bonus: What if the crystal ball had a secret defect that made it muddle up people’s futures? To play around with this idea, make a list of five friends of yours and a wish they each might have for when they grow up. Next, mix and match the friends and wishes to make new pairings. Now, write mini-predictions of their future lives with their new randomly assigned wish! How do you think your friends would cope with someone else’s wish as their future? Would they be surprisingly satisfied… or completely disappointed? Would the change overwhelm them for the worse or for the better—or somewhere in between? If you want, share your predictions with your friends to see how they react. Do they want to break that crystal ball to pieces… or cherish it forever? 

Tricks for tots: To help you get into the mood of this strange imaginary world, pretend you are the fortuneteller in charge of the crystal ball! Think of how you’ll talk and act when you’re in character… and even make a costume if you want. Then invite a loved-one to come have their future told by you, either in person or online. Though it’s just a make-believe game, maybe you can make some good guesses since you know the person really well! Concentrate on the information you have about them—what they have done in the past, what they like to do now, and what they might want to try later. With all your attention and care, give your loved-one a sneak peek of their future! Are they happy with your prediction… or did your powers make them worry?
Tips for teens: Philosophically, the notion of fortunetelling is tricky since it implies that the future is already established—that we may each have a fate or destiny. But if that is true, what does it say about our freedom and our ability to determine the course of our lives? If what we do dictates our future, then how could a crystal ball help at all? Conversely, if everything is already written in the stars, is there any point in us making plans and acting accordingly? If you had the power to decide whether the future was preset or unwritten, what would you prefer and why? Do you feel less overwhelmed thinking that everything happens for a reason… or that everything you do has an impact?

Share your creative reflections by sending them via email.
Include photos of your projects and notes of your thoughts, as well as your first name and your age!

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