The word “human” is often referred to as the conscious being and probably so far, the only one. Consciousness, as the French philosopher Henri Bergson defines it, is historicity. It is the capacity of being aware of time. Moreover, humans live consciously in the time and have a special relation to it. This is why, we invented the watch, the calendar and timetables; but also we have deadlines, memories, projections and so on.
Consciousness is memory, a link between the past, the present and the future which allows us to go back and forth and to anticipate the future while looking back at the past. in Bergson’s words:
“In reality, the past is preserved by itself automatically … the pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory”.
Is this ability a heavy weight? Isn’t the cause of constantly saying to ourselves “what if”?
Mainly there are two consequences of this: resentment or pro-activity.
Resentment is the sum of negative feelings like regrets, remorse, jealousy and persecution. What if I did this instead of that? What if people hate me? What if I am fundamentally stupid? What if I will never make it? All are legitimate questions which can become psychologically lethal if one is entangled in this obsessive attitude, feeding all kinds of negative feelings. We can easily desire to be constantly feeling bad.
On the other hand, these questions can become the way to a better living only if there is a desire to change and face the new. Bergson said it better:
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.