What is self discovery? What is fulfillment? What is a life if not an opportunity to take advantage of all of the doors that just need to be nudged open? They are not closed to us, they are cracked, and the tiniest bit of pressure will make them swing open and the enticing things inside, or sometimes the horrors, are at our disposal.
And, in the event that you REALLY want something behind a door that happens to be closed, break into the nearest fire thingy, take out the axe, and break into the fucking room.
Three things have sparked a new line of thought for me. One is the observation of fate versus free will in studying Oedipus and Antigone. Two is a television series on HBO called Girls. And three is a conversation with a kindred spirit.
Fate – by my definition – is like destiny. It is the end result of a cumulative set of preordained circumstances. Free will, on the other hand, is that belief that we choose our path and are in complete control over what happens to us.
Except – there is a huge problem in that sentence. We are in complete control. Are we, really? I don’t think so. I think that there is a staggering amount of things not in our control and its our human arrogance to think anything different. I could say, for example, that I am in control of my body. Except I’m not. There are a thousand different things going on inside my body right now that I have no control over. Even as I type this I am aware that my breathing is regulated by a series of checks and balances and it is so natural that I don’t even realize it.
What if I were to have an aneurysm right now? How much control am I in then? What if I have a heart attack? What if I suddenly vomit because the cheese and crackers I ate at the bar after work were bad? My body regulates itself, and sometimes it fails.
I am in control of the car that I drive, but I’m not in control of the nail on the road that I can’t see that pops my tire. I’m not in control of other drivers on the road, their temperaments, and whether or not they might run over a nail, pop a tire, and stray into my lane before it’s too late for me to stop it.
I’m in control of where I work, but not who I work with. I certainly can’t control my managers. And although I am very happy with where I work, I think a big part of that is simply not giving a shit about things I can’t control about my job.
I care about my path in school. I can control how I work and what I define as success. But I can’t control my professor, or what his expectations are, or whether or not I think he is teaching properly. FYI – if you’re reading this, you’re doing great. It’s just an example.
I can control lots of things. But the amount of things I cannot control far outweighs the things I can. I am in such little control over the things in my life that when I really think about it, it’s incredibly frightening. So what do we, as human beings, with all our mental power, do? We talk about God and His higher purpose. We talk about fate and karmic balance and shit. When really we might all sleep better at night if we could accept the fact that we are really just floating through our own existence trying not to kill ourselves.
Some might find this all to be very depressing, but I promise you I’m not coming from a dark place. But how many times do we catch ourselves wishing things were different when they aren’t? How many times do we find ourselves to be even more depressed when we try harder to reach those goals and still find a long list of things we would change if we could?
To me it’s all one big joke.
I used to think to myself, about living, about being an adult – is this really it? Is this what it means to be human? Because although I can say I have experienced true joy, and true sorrow – at the end of the day, I kind of feel like I’m back at zero. I know that I have a full life ahead of me of more of the same. More joy, more sorrow, more bills to pay, more pain to endure. More trials, more wonders, and more miracles. More death, more suffering, more life, and better sex. But when it’s late and you’re tired and you’re looking at what’s behind you and what’s to come – you kind of have to wonder what’s the point in any of it? It’s not like any of this is going to matter in, say, ten thousand years when the poles reverse and the Earth shits itself and our species goes extinct. We are not the best thing that is to come, and so I kindly say to myself, your existence is meaningless in the grand design. You were not created with any specific purpose and you are not the best thing to happen to the world. To think such a thing is incredibly arrogant.
Now, before you all go thinking I’m going to commit suicide to escape from this nightmare, let me share with you the uplifting positive in all of this.
Here’s the great part about being honest about what it means to be alive: if none of it matters, then everything matters.
We should be able to do whatever we want. Now, there are rules to follow and social things to worry about. We do have to go to work in order to make enough money to make sure we don’t die from starvation or exposure. But after that – what exactly are we doing except feeding our own immediate needs?
I should be able to have a drink whenever I feel like it. When I was in New York, I had a cocktail at 11:30. Not because I was in New York, and not because I wanted to be bold. Because I just felt like a cocktail. It occurred to me that maybe it might be “bad” to have a drink before noon. And it’s not like I was having that drink to get through the day. I just wanted the drink. Who gives a fuck what time it is.
And if I want to have sex with someone because I want to have sex with them, and I’m protecting myself from contracting some awful disease or unwanted pregnancy, honestly who gives a fuck? What business is it of yours who I have sex with? Or if I even know their name? And if tomorrow I feel like I should probably never experience that again, then I won’t. But if there’s so little I can control, and so much terror in the randomness and pointlessness of it all, why should I worry about who I have sex with or when I drink?
I adopted this mentality, in a way, from watching a show on HBO called Girls. If you are a woman, I recommend you watch it. This shit is real. It’s a television series about a group of girls living in Brooklyn and how incredibly fucked up their lives are. Except, it’s not really all that fucked up. It’s abrasive at first because NO ONE talks about this stuff, but after a while it kind of makes sense.
For example. Main character Hannah is a writer. She writes personal essays about her experiences. Once she did cocaine so that she could write about what it was like to do cocaine. As a self-diagnosed artist, I can totally see the appeal of this. On the one hand, I was totally horrified at how she was so willing to just put coke up her nose for her writing, but then I thought about it and I thought – why the hell not?
Dear God – mom and dad – if you are reading this, please don’t freak out. I’m not going to go searching for cocaine. I live in the real world. More importantly, I live in your house, and I don’t think you’d appreciate me taking this time living with you to “find myself” through drug use.
Anyway, my point is, people should just live their lives. They should identify the constraints of their lives, find a way to be happy with them, and just fucking live them. Drink more, have more sex, have better sex, read, play outside, explore, be whoever you want to be. Become a furry, a poet, a dancer. Be honest, be sincere, be who you are.
As an experiment, I am seeing what it would feel like to be more direct. Instead of worrying about the consequences of whatever it is I have to say, I will just say them. For example, when I am attracted to someone, I should just say: I am attracted to you. I mean what’s the big deal anyway? We, as women, spend way too much time worrying about what’s ABOUT to happen. Stop it! Stop worrying altogether.
I know what will happen if I blow off my mountain of Humanities homework. I’ll get a poor grade in the class and I will have to answer to my parents, and myself. I don’t want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy that I can’t do well in school just because I’m lazy. But that’s what matters to me. If it mattered to me to go to Tahiti and spend all my days sewing shoes together for poor Tahitians, that’s where I would be. But it’s not, so I’m not, and I’m where I want to be. I’m not angry that the LNA class I have been scrambling to prepare for was just canceled, because that’s not in my control. I’ll take it when I can take it. I’ll take it and then I’ll be a licensed nursing assistant.
Now, I choose to live in a world with rules, so there are lots of things I can’t do that sound like a lot of fun. I can’t do cocaine. I probably shouldn’t have nude pictures of me floating around on the internet. I shouldn’t smoke pot all the time like I used to in the good old days because at some point I’ll probably have to pee in a cup. But if you live in a world where you won’t have to pee in a cup, smoke it if you want. Who cares?
As far as the conversation with my kindred spirit, her name is Georgia and she has a lot of experience in personal transformation. I find her inspiring. I find that when she says things to me, I feel validated. My decision to be alone, to be celibate, to be by myself – was at her suggestion. And when she tells me how frustrating the world can be, she is real, and she makes me feel validated.
None of us know what the fuck we’re doing and we don’t want to feel alone, so we shouldn’t be. And we shouldn’t waste our minimal time on this sinking ship wondering what shape the iceberg is that caused us to go down. Nor should we worry about the mechanics of the rudder, the wood the boat is made of, or the cloth the sails were cut from.
We should all just stop wasting our time worrying about things we can’t control, don’t matter, never will, and live our lives while we still have them. So that job that you can’t stand? Fucking quit it. That relationship that makes you miserable? Get out! That friend that treats you like crap? Um, we all give ourselves enough crap already, so why don’t we just get rid of as much external pain as we can.
What should we do doing instead? We should realize that we are fighting a losing battle. That the best thing we can do to weather this:
We are all just monkeys with pants.
That’s right, people. We are all just animals. We are living organisms that don’t have a chance in the grand design. We will destroy ourselves at some point. So, have kids. Don’t have kids. Smoke, don’t smoke. Be kind if you feel like it, but only if you want to. Sometimes it goes against your inner nature.
But what about our refined culture? What about our impulse control? What about that brain that separates us from actual animals? Well, you might think you are, but you’re not. Having a higher social order is like saying that we are better than bees. We’re not. Do you have any idea how efficient bees are? They do their bee thing, and then they die. And tra-la-la the bee world never stops turning, until some genetic malfunction makes some bee species extinct.
If the human race is going to evolve into a higher functioning lasting species, we aren’t a part of that genetic code. We’re all fucked. So we might as well enjoy it.
And the next time we think we’re anything more than just animals, pay attention to what happens when you have to poop. Yep, went there. Everyone poops. You can try to stop it, but you’ll regret it. We get hungry, we eat. We get tired, we sleep. We don’t have enough oxygen in our brains – WE YAWN. We like to touch things, to feel things, and we like to think. We like to ponder our own existence, and I think that’s awesome. But when did pondering turn into omniscience? When did we start to think we knew anything about anything? When really, all we know is that we get hungry and we eat. We get tired and we sleep. We gravitate towards one another, but we also exclude the weak. We feel threatened by things that are different. Our innate human nature is not something we can ponder out of. We can try to resist it, but then we feel unhappy. We don’t like the world that we built, but none of us are capable of fixing it. This ship is going down and there are no lifeboats.
I am afraid perhaps at this point I am beating a dead horse. No, I have beaten the dead horse. It’s not mangled beyond recognition. It kind of looks like the kind of art where you throw darts at paint-filled balloons.
I’m a little worried people will read this and think I’m crazy. There is a possibility that my friends won’t return my phone calls and my family will say we’re going to the movies but really they are going to have me committed.
For the record, as much as I think I have it ALL figured out, I’m not to naive as to not keep my own arrogance in check. There are so many things I haven’t done, so many things I want to experience, and I sort of feel like my mind might change about this. But, I have felt for many years, that all of this is completely pointless. We’re happy, we’re sad, we sleep, we wake. We go to work, we feel fulfilled, we sometimes don’t, friends come and go, lovers come and go, and slowly everyone around us dies until we, too, are dead.
In the meantime, we should maybe consider that the whole point of all of this is to have a blast. So why don’t we do that.
That is what makes us human. That in the face of utter hopelessness and the absurdity of it all, we continue to do what we can to take some measure of control over our lives and make the best of it.
That’s what makes us special, what sepparates us from the animals. Our lives are not confined to our biological processes. We don’t simply wake up, have sex, eat, clean ourselves, and go to sleep. We make art. We play games. We engage in conversations about things we can’t even hope to understand.
We could be like animals and simply exist. We could just live our lives for the sole purpose of reproducing. But we don’t. In fact, there are many people who forego that biological imperative altogether.
The human experience cannot be defined by control, because even animals have some control over their lives. The human experience is defined by choice.
And what makes human life so special is the fact that even when we realize that ultimately, our choices are meaningless on the grand scale of things, they’re still worth making.
That’s not to say that humanity is the end-all-be-all. But what makes life so precious is being able to recognize its value in the face of eternity. We might be an insignificant speck in the entirety of existence, but what a beautiful speck humanity can be at times!