Monday, June 02, 2014

The evening's ritual was a walk down the quiet, dimly lit road in the dusk. Behind me was another lost battle, another lost chance at a redemption I think I knew I would never receive. Ahead was nothing more than the warmth of familiarity, but I would take whatever I could get. Every walk, all I wanted was for it to be the last, because that would mean that the battle was over -- defeat had to be preferable to this. So one day I fled, and that was that. But now I walk down a different equally dimly lit road in the dusk, and all I can think is how gloriously real that shuffle in the quiet was, with only the streetlight, my thoughts, and me. Every footstep thus seems an echo of a past that, by any measure, was not worth living -- and yet, which I cannot seem to escape from. Is the only way to make my peace to relive everything, and prove that I have learned how to survive? Or is it to dig deeper and deeper, till nothing, man or memory, can find me?

Anytime discussion turns to what it is we do, there seem to be a few ground rules. First, it is certainly important, and not pointless -- anyone who feels otherwise has made some baffling life choices. Second, it is by far more important than any other triviality that the masses distract themselves with -- this is, after all, the pursuit of knowledge in its purest form! Third, this is not work, really -- because it is what we love spending your time on, and it is suspicious that anyone want to disconnect from that.

There is much to commend about these views, and I can't claim they aren't true for other people. For me, as always, I find reason to question these pillars, and ask if the tower is as strong as it appears. The unquestioning party line seems unaware or uncaring of the faults that surely exist. For one, the culture encourages a dismally one-dimensional view of the self -- perhaps being judged on (the perception of) your brain is preferable to being judged on your body, but it is demeaning nonetheless. How pathetic to see the wonder of man reduced to a pocketful of equations and ideas. The pity of the matter is that one starts to believe in this hollow ghost, and imagine that this is what all others must see -- which, in my case, is perpetually a shadow of failure.

Of course, one-dimensional views are popular everywhere; it's the way we're wired, no doubt. But it seems to play a stronger role amongst us, because of the belief that this is anyway the only thing that matters. When there is an understanding that what you do is, at the end of the day, just a bit of theatre, there is the opportunity to see others for who they are behind the curtain. I think that's what missing -- a sense of who people are as people, rather than as machines that produce theorems.

My Illegal Self

Sometimes my existence utterly boggles my mind -- and that takes some doing, given the thoughts that ordinarily pass through it -- and I find it hard to imagine that a more unlikely individual has ever walked this planet. I almost pity the unknowing others who look into these eyes, seeing whatever image it is I project. No one's image is their whole story, but how many have kept up so massive a charade so consistently? How many have managed to have more or less conformed to the norms of society, while amassing an unbelievably detailed array of thought and emotion borne from isolation, longing, and denial? An array which, when its hand is revealed, would leave me standing alone as the earth and everyone in it scurries in fear.