Psychoanalysis / Giacomo B. Contri

Having tomorrow


“Without hope, there is no chance for life,” Fr Giussani reminded us in Rimini, expressing the desire that the living fountain of hope “be there every morning.” Hope has to do with waking up every morning. In terms of our existence, we could say that the word “hope” can be translated using the word “tomorrow,” something that “is not yet,” but at the same time “is already.” Giacomo B Contri is convinced of this: “Having tomorrow. I say it as a psychoanalyst: man is a walking ‘overnight bag’ or at most two days. 24-48 hours, that is his range, because there is the night in the middle. At night one sleeps and thinks–he thinks about tomorrow. Therefore, being a human being and considering oneself to ‘have tomorrow’ coincide.”

In our existential situation, and perhaps today in a socially more noticeable manner, this awareness of having tomorrow is not always there.
Our thoughts do not favor very much the fact of considering ourselves human beings. Our moods are often melancholic: we wake up and talk with whoever is in the house only about our worries. So a new day is arriving, but we do not have tomorrow…

And instead?
The only people we know who are sure of having tomorrow are children. “Tomorrow” is the moment when something will happen; this is the way children think. Not even the thought that one might die is in contrast with being someone who has tomorrow, with being a man. We adults frequently make the mistake of starting with today’s worries; tomorrow is a repetition of the day before, the repository of what already happened yesterday. There is no tomorrow, except in the chronological sense–only the date on the calendar changes, but all the rest does not.

This idea of yours of tomorrow is a nice one; it seems to me to express very well the meaning of hope. Man is made in order to desire, in order that his desire be fulfilled. But it seems impossible to hope, “unless you become like children.”
What I say now about Christ is precisely this: He is the prototype of man “who has tomorrow.” His thoughts on this are clear and offset all our resistance to having tomorrow. The core of the Resurrection is right here: it is having first said and then carried out the fact that “He felt like” starting everything afresh. I do not know anyone who has had a certainty like that. He is the only case. He did not rise again merely because He had the power to do so, but because He felt like doing it. Our way of going to sleep does not always bring with it the desire to wake up again. There is an old film in which Alberto Sordi, going to bed, says, “Goodbye, world!” This is what usually happens.

In short, “Christ is our hope” in the sense that He is our tomorrow, that is to say, our today with all its desire inside it.
I have noticed that Jesus, once He arose, was not at all interested in talking about His death. “I want to wake up” is the closest statement possible to Jesus’ assertion that He wanted to rise again. This is why St Paul could say, “O death, where is your victory?” The righteous man–to use a well-known ancient term–is the one who wants to wake up tomorrow. The case of Christ is the case, the only case, of the certainty of this desire. For example, Buddhism, with its concept of Nirvana, clearly affirms that it does not want tomorrow. This is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t want any more desires.”

And thus, “I don’t want to hope any more.” Buddhists aside, it is a quite widespread position today, also on the cultural plane. What does it mean, on the other hand, to bring hope, or rather “to feel you have tomorrow”?
Having tomorrow means that we operate in this world with the aim of satisfaction, or conclusion. Communism had a mistaken idea of tomorrow, but at least it believed in tomorrow. St Peter’s statement, “You have the words of eternal life,” means precisely this. Waking up is no longer thinking, “Here I go with my usual husband, my usual job, my usual child.” It is no longer like this. True desire is an event. The episode of Jesus and the Samaritan woman speaking of the well and water is an example of what I am saying. Desire is a happening, a success, an event, even a grace received, not a premise that then remains unsatisfied; in this case, God would be only a repairer of a methodical failure; in short, He would be a sublime stopgap (this is the tristitia of which the medievals speak). Jesus was concerned not to promise happiness, riches, and women in the next life, as Islam does. This is not how it is. Jesus is concerned to posit a precise certainty, which is that everything does not start over again in the same way.