As a species, we have proved to be good historians but poor futurologists.**
There’s a word in Spanish. … Instead of saying ‘to wake up,’ you say recordarse, that is, to record yourself, to remember yourself. … Every morning I get that feeling because I am more or less nonexistent. Then when I wake up, I always feel I’m being let down. Because, well, here I am. Here’s the same old stupid game going on. I have to be somebody. I have to be exactly that somebody.^
(Jorge Luis Borges)
Is our daily path from the past or from the future?
Imagination allows us to look towards the misty cerulean horizon of the future, with its possibility and promise of meaning.
No matter how well we progress, the experience must always be one of being close but not arriving. We only know where we have arrived by turning around and looking at the past:
We are in effect, always, close; always close to the ultimate secret: that we are more real in our simple wish to find a way than any destination we could reach: the step between not understanding that and understanding that, is as close as we get to happiness.^^
This pregnant distance invites us to approach with imagination, to be open to surprise along the way, to deeper understanding and appreciation not because we know but because we don’t know:
The imagination is more like the moon than the sun because it is dependent on another thing and exists in no pure state by itself. … It needs an openness to whatever is there at the moment and to not reject whatever is there because of any formulaic concept from the past. … The imagination allows me to give a credence and an integrity to any existence outside of myself.*
And it is openness to the other that enables us to be a different somebody today, what Michael Burkard articulates as spooky behaviour over long distances.
*Michael Burkard, quoted in Mary Ruefle’s On Imagination;
**From Robert Macfarlane’s Underland;
^Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
^^David Whyte, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees.