11/28/07

Expectations/The What Ifs

Much of my energy, at least in terms of thought, has lately been spent on the dual issue of expectation and analyzation preceding and following an event. Essentially, thinking about what a moment might bring, and then, following that moment, considering the permutations that moment may have taken.

There are, in theory, an infinite number of possibilities stemming from one event. Perhaps the butterfly thing covers this better, but my emphasis here is more on the analyzation that follows any events in our lives: the 'What if...?"

Now, many will argue that there is no sense in getting wrapped up by the "what if", but I argue that to not dream of the other possibilities, or at least spend a moment thinking about them is an impossibility for any human. This would be to live in Kunderian 'lightness', and I believe pure lightness to be an impossibility.

Nietzsche says that events occur only once and that every event is as it should be. However, that does not stop it from replaying in our minds or from existing within the consciousness. I wonder if Nietzsche ever suggests that one should not care, or if one should attempt to remove themselves from all thoughts that occur after events. This would be the only solution, but again, I believe it to be impossible for any person not to at least wonder "What if..." every once in a while.

So how does this play into a person's expectations regarding an event? We all expect every event, great or small, in our lives to go a certain way. Whether to expect traffic on the way to work or to have snow to shovel in the morning- we all expect something to happen. Often, this expectation turns into anticipation- the desire that one event will occur over another. People anticipate that something will turn out to be happy, and when events cause that anticipation to be proven wrong, I believe it is easy to become wrapped in questioning the outcome and all things that became that outcome. More than likely, reactions to similar events in the future will change as a result of previous anticipations gone awry.

Recently, I was hearing about how Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, widow of President John F. Kennedy, spent a great deal of time wondering how events in Dallas could have been different. "What if I had simply leaned back further in my seat or heard something different?" Due to the trauma of the event, as well as the expectation of how the event should have gone (i.e. JFK not having been shot or ended up dead) left Mrs. Kennedy nearly obsessive over the 'what ifs'.

And while an event probably would have ended up going badly for one to start considering the permutations of that event, when bad things happen, people often see them as a balance to something positive. "What if I hadn't one the lottery? I wouldn't be broke now because I probably wouldn't have purchased all that Halliburton stock just before the Vice President got busted for skimming from the treasury!"

(to be continued eventually)

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