When we are young we are full of potential. We feel immeasurable future before us and we overflow with hope.
When we are older, after living most of a lifetime, looking back on the one narrow path we actually followed through these possibilities, we might feel bitter.
Was all that possibility an illusion doomed to be dispelled by actuality?
No: That possibility was real. We thought we were anticipating our own personal biographies, but now, our maturity reveals it for what it was: In truth, we were savoring the infinitude of God.
This ambient eternity was not over the horizon, but rather, was the sky and air of our lives. And it is still there around us and, if we choose, we continue to breathe it.
Possibilities are valuable whether they are actualized or not.
Human nature is apocalyptic. Every generation feels it in their bones that they are the last generation. And in a sense, they are right. Each generation is the end of existence as they know it.
But this is no reason to surrender to despair. This is just one way we experience our own mortality. When we die, everything as we know it disappears with us. The universe loses one of its universes, even as another infant universe pre-experiences its genesis, or some grace-struck soul is reborn mid-life, ex nihilo.
Nothing is okay, and that is okay.
The hope of potential is the experience of God’s infinitude, filtered through our own finitude.
The hopelessness of apocalypse is the experience of our own finitude, but if we look deeper into the nothingness, we can feel the back-glow of infinitude behind it.
We do not have to be bitter.
Rabbi Simcha Bunim taught: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: ‘I am a speck of dust,’ and on the other : ‘The world was created for me.’”