This post would have been more appropriate last week, but what with the harassed unrest of modern life I didn’t get round to it. The prelude to the kick-off of the Premier League season had me thinking last week about the forward-thinking that football fans have at that beginning, and how great a mode of existence that forward-thinking (or being-towards, if I want to be all Heideggerian about it) is to be in. Before the kick off there are possibilities laid bare: some awful, some great, some mediocre. The thinking-forward for all these possibilities makes me engage with the possibilities not just in some decontextualised, abstract manner but in a direct manner, considering the possibilities carefully and attaching them to emotions that could be part of those outcomes. A deep way of engaging with the possibilities that are laid out before the season, far beyond the glib and uninformed dross that the football press pumps out every early-August (see any major newspaper for lazy, derisible spouting off).
This set of possibilities can be generalised to any forward event of course, but there is something special about the long-term, multi-event like a season of football – or a new job, like the one I begin next week. In a football game, there are three possible results and although the possibilities for the game are myriad, the 90 minutes of the game mean that the projection forward is itself limited temporally. When thinking of the match, it is only the 90 minutes I am casting forward towards. Some games are different of course, a major qualifier or a play-off final, where the result will determine the position – and the possibilities – of the team for the following campaign (but not the manner of how the team plays in that campaign. Hence the beginning, the novel and fresh start for the campaign, is so enticing and enchanting when held in anticipation.
Of course, the holding of the whole mega-event (for want of better terminology) is punctured as soon as the event itself begins. A first match will not dictate an entire season, which will be of comfort to QPR fans. It can show possibilities that were not manifest to the person holding the season in anticipation. I knew Michu was good, but I didn’t know how good until last Saturday when I saw him stride with majesty, stroke the ball with authority and grace, and finish like a marksman of vintage quality. His colossal performance, and the majestic sweep that Swansea used to brush aside QPR 5-0 in a performance of exquisite beauty in the 2nd half at Loftus Road, were new, surprising possibilities that in even the most optimistic anticipation I did not predict or hold forth as a hope for the new campaign. Similarly, while I hold a healthy mix of anticipation, optimism and possible blind panic about my new job, the first day could prove as mundane as Coldplay or as brilliant as the genius Michu. At this moment, I hold all the possibilities in anticipation, and that is a nice position to be in; savour the possibilities when they present themselves in this form, the glory is not fleeting and the misery is not crushing. Holding things forward in anticipation is how we think; forwards. When the possibilities are vast, then the thinking we do is great too.