Monday, August 11, 2008

Can One Hope Without Anxiety?

There is nothing like uprooting yourself, putting all of your crap in boxes, moving to a very isolated place in the way North to put you into the introspective mood. While I am walking around the streets and alleys of my new village, my mind seems to be circling around moments from my past or fixating on undone things or obsessions. It seems that uprooting oneself is not so good for escaping what ails you, but rather ties you to the past in a way that is overbearing.

I find myself coping with my new move by making the most comfort of all comfort food. I made homemade Chicken Noodle Soup this weekend. My god. What have I done?

On one of my interminably long walks this weekend (hey, I think the final baby weight is totally gone!), I started thinking about hope and anticipation. Both of these concepts are ripe for an inquiring phenomenological mind. I have been thinking of 'hope' lately because I am planning to write a conference paper on the way in which enhancement technologies, such as taking Prozac or Ritalin to boost performance marks the end of an era of hope. (I am fully aware that my preoccupation with hope is conditioned by the rhetoric of our current political candidate).

I wanted to work out in my mind what was different about hope from general anticipation or future planning. The latter seems to cause me neurotic, anxious fits that keep me up at night. I think about what my classes will be like at my new job, I wonder how much research I can get done, I wonder if I can afford to buy another house with mortgage rules so tight, I wonder if I will ever pay of my student loan debts, I wonder if Maddie will be happy here . . . you get the picture. And, as long as my mind is future-oriented--caught up with making plans for the future--I am a wreck.

My question--during the walk--was: does the anxiety that crops up when I start thinking about the future a product of future-oriented thinking? Meditation, for example, is aimed at getting us to live in the present and stop worrying so damn much about the future.

But, to have hope is to think about the future--to project into the future (to sound like an existentialist). Is having hope somehow a kind of future-orientation that is free from anxiety and worry?

I just don't know and I want to know. Thoughts?