The enchantment of beginnings is as empty as the alchemist’s promise.

With all the different anniversaries—birthday, independence day, wedding anniversaries, etc.— it is clear that you have a thing for beginnings. But why?

Why do you always think that the question about how it all began is the most important question? You are familiar with the Bob Marley guide to history, right? The one that says something like: We have to know where we are coming from to know where we are going. Ponder over it, and you’ll realize it’s  not a very helpful piece of cultural advice. For one thing, it hinges our future on a Utopian search for a secret place of origin in our past.

One reason the past is so enticing is its claims of having talismanic powers. True, the past contains the moment of your beginning. But it also promises you that, in its garden of memories, this beginning can become a crystal ball that, if only it were found, can explain what you are and will become. But do you seriously think that origins are moments in time that bare the hidden truth of your being, that your origin can tell you not only the when and the how, but also the why of yourself and the world?

Do you honestly think that the moment of your birth is “the moment of [your] perfection, when [you] emerged dazzling from the hands of a creator in… the shadowless light of a first morning?” —Michel Foucault

I don’t care for the beginnings, you know, at least not in the sense that they possesses  divinatory powers. But can I then say that they are the least significant part of life? Maybe not. What I can say is that beginnings are morbid things to ponder over. Why? Because they remind me that my presence in the world is a chance or accidental event. Sometimes, in the rapture of self-love I entertain the belief that my birth and the birth my nation are the two most inevitable events in the world. But then I think that way only because I am seeing the past and its narration of my origin through the fiction of memory.

Learn from creations stories. They are beautiful because they are as diverse as they are ridiculous. They tell us that it matters little that the world came into being when a chicken landed on the moon with two coral beads. Or when a hard penis ruptured the earth. Or when a fire cracker magically exploded in the middle of a sizzling cosmic soup. Or when a bored and benevolent God decided he needed company.

The enchantment of beginnings is an emptiness that holds a promise.

If there is any value to origin, it lies in its Utopian nature. That’s because beginnings are meaningful more in the searching than in the finding. We will never find the true origin and even if we do, it will answer none of our questions. But the journey to through the past to the beginning, the journey simple as journey, freed from the tyranny of the destination is, perhaps, the only content of an otherwise precarious existence.

Photo Credit: Potipher’s Wife by Pauline Frederick