I didn’t know anything was possible.
How does one know what is possible without trying? We set our rules of possibility on the basis of what has worked before, and extrapolations from learnt understandings (we learn from books and people and words and images more than we learn from actions actually taken, and this is almost certainly a safer route, but it may provide us with new limitations). I’m fairly certain I can’t fly up from my bed and out of the window into the sky, but if it was to happen, I wouldn’t be able to deny it.
Change is possible, it’s default, in fact, but we don’t expect it. We seem programmed to latch onto some kind of inertia of the status quo. Conservatism (small c, though not at the beginning of a sentence, obv) seems easier in most things.
But possibilities are actually endless. The phase space, the potential paths of the future, laid out in front of us, are even more infinitely incomprehensible than the path we will actually, as a universe, walk.
We live as a tiny part of a piece of something more immense than we can possibly comprehend. Something so immensely massive that the law of averages mean that something like life could emerge, and be randomly warped and whittled into something like us (and something like elephants and something like turnips and something like bluejays and something like staphylococcus).
Consider the hugeness of space, and all the weirdnesses that it may contain that we, quite simply, don’t have time to explore.
On our own.
In fact, we can continue the chain that has emerged from layers of repeating imprints on clay into bacterial life and through millions of years of winnowing and shifting into floating stomachs and things with spines and fish and birds and everything else, culminating (or arriving, in fact, or even just becoming, we are no end point and there is no teleology) and carry it further on.
Our hopes and dreams are the possibilities of our next generations. If we start playing a long game, and work out what we may want to be in the future, maybe our children’s children will still have a home, and will still have the will to explore and see all the wonders of this wonder we’re possible in.
When I think of everything that is possible, I am drawn relentlessly towards what might be possible.
There is so much out there. So much future left for everyone. An infinity of space, and an infinity of time.
Which is an infinity of possibility.
If we learn to be more optimistic, and spread out our hopes into the longer term, and start dealing with our real and present dangers, then we expand the wealth of possibility, not just for us, but for the huge and strange generations of our future.
Possibility is hope. We need to start protecting it.
Hope for the future, defending the possibilities of our children.
That’s a clarion call.
Illustration by Rosie.