“The possible ranks higher than the actual,” Martin Heidegger once wrote. Whenever I think of that statement, I depart from the notion that man is a thinking being, but that thought itself is framed by hope. In the thoughts of all men lies hope; that possibilities offer better situations than realities. In our minds, the “what-could-be” is superior to “what-is.”
Not only do we live and act in thought, but we also live and act in hope. All our anticipation, our anxiety, our drive and passion to look and move forward, is all rooted in hope. Our transcience is in hope.
Today is December 31, 2010; in a few hours, we usher in a new year, a new decade. We bid farewell to the first decade of the 21st century and the third millennium. True; we follow time in terms of man-made calendars, from intervals and iterations we ourselves created to grasp a subject we can barely understand. Time is everywhere: in the movement of fireworks, in the cooking of dishes, in the writing and reading of this blog post. The “now” – the “is” – is a transition from the “was,” which we knew, and the “will” and the “could:” the arbitrary definitions and assumptions of what we think can happen and, more importantly, what we hope will happen.
The New Year is a time where we collectively celebrate the passage of time. Behind the celebrations, behind the joys and the cheering and the flare- and firework-streaked sky, we all are gripped by a certain feeling of anxiety. We do not know what will happen in the next year. Our wishes and dreams veer towards something general, our resolutions not specified in particular intervals of time.
Yet time isn’t so: it is not a sequence of past-present-future lived in order. Rather, it is best viewed – and best lived – as one stretched instant. We live in a continuity, rather than a pre-arranged sequence, of time. Thought and hope aren’t bound in the tenses that we try to grasp and try to live. It’s not a reboot of our situations, or a new day in a new time: whatever we celebrate today is a part of our continued celebration of life, being, and time.
The times have been friendly to me: a small place in history, a good career, good health, and a very special love whom I’ll never get tired of saying “yes” to. At the same time, the times have not been friendly to me at all; lost opportunities, big mistakes, people lost to time.
I don’t know what 2011 will bring. I know the grand hopes that lie ahead, but not whatever comes in between. The future is a stretched instant of now’s, not just lived in being and thinking, but in hoping.
Happy New Year, everyone!