On The Need for Hope

December 31, 2018

As the year descends into its crescendoing finale, my thoughts wander to the need for starting over.

Though everything is continuous in that there is no real start or end, we can’t help but feel with the coming end of a year the need to change and start over. Without the arbitrary distinction between a start and end we are lost, like ships with broken sails wandering the vast and endless sea.

We need hope. Even if it’s in the bare nakedness of hoping in hope itself. Even if such hope does the opposite of calming the tidal wave of emotions and thoughts in ourselves. Instead, hope brings us further and farther than we thought we could go. It puts us through drama, discomfort, and anxiety, to produce something greater than what came before it.

You can sit, and search for the tail of mind all you like. But like a game of peek-a-boo or the act of catching water in a net, it will always slip your grasp. So you are left, running circles like a dog, drowning deeper into a supposedly courageous quest. But, there is courage to go astray, and there is also the courage to stay the course.

Understanding this, you can say that life, as it were, is unfair or pointless or that the existence of the individual is a tragedy. How could some intelligent, or if you prefer objective, force of natural selection produce such a deeply horrifying outcome? How could one ever imagine stumbling onto a Lovecraftian forbidden knowledge like this? Or, you could see it as a feature, not a bug. A blessing, not a curse. A gift, not a metaphorical insult signed as some last divinely comical joke.

If you can flip this script, and believe in something as simple as the grass is green, and it is just that. If you can pull the breaks somewhere along the circular chain of cause and effect, and say this is where I need to stop. Having hope that tomorrow will not be today, that today I am better than I was yesterday, or that life is a rhythmic symphony of independent causes that emerge and decay slowly — with the high note always following the low one. Then you have this strange and elusive power at your feet. It’s a power to move mountains, build spacecrafts, see into the heart of nature’s biological workings, or simply give the strength to haul Sisyphus’ great absurdity forward one more time.

But you can only see or do these things with some form of hope that growth and change, as it were, is a constant. That there will always be another start point, another page to begin, another year to start over, another love to foster. But with this, a realization that there will always be an endpoint. The book always has to finish, and the sun needs to go down to mark the next day. The people we love the most will fade away one day - ourselves in hot pursuit. But the hope of starts and ends is the hope to keep living, striving or growing, as high as the tallest trees on this vast and grand Earth.

Because, man is not separate from nature. Man is nature, and nature is man — and nature’s never-ending call to action is the continuous expansion of itself, from start to end, forever, and always.