Nihilism is wonderful. It is to philosophy what zero is to mathematics. Multiply it to any magnitude of beauty, emotion and meaning and you end up meaningless. Add it to any of these and you add nothing, but also lose nothing. It’s nothing. It cannot stand on it’s own, yet has the power to void the tenets of human values in a snap on one hand, and to impart incomprehensible infinity to the trivial on the other.
I’ll be moving to earth in two days, or so they say. Life is a good thing, a one-time opportunity, I’m being convinced for the last couple of weeks. “You’re not ready for it yet”, they say every time they postpone my transit to earth. “Your questions.” is what they say have to die before I’ve to live. This time, I’d be moving for sure, for I heard the fairies gossiping about some “Plan Z”, something they probably try upon the most difficult of souls, something that always works they say.
Hi, I am Mary. Nice to meet you.
Hey. You’re beautiful. Never seen you before.
Beauty is nothing but order within chaos. It’s everywhere, you just have to look around.
I cannot. In all chaos, all order and all existence, I see deep nothingness.
What about me?
What about you?
You see nothingness in me?
Of course. But, oh wait! Umph… you should exist.
I don’t think I can answer that. Oh wait, I’m hating myself for saying this. This is what the other fairies keep telling me when I ask them for meaning. Umm….
Yes, you cannot answer that. But about that question of meaning, how about asking it from me? I’m not like the other fairies.
What is this mark below your lips?
O soul! That’s a mole.
Why is it there?
Randomly? No. It really makes a difference. You look so beautiful with it. Mary, this randomness is beautiful. This chaos within order within chaos is appealing. Aren’t you wrong when you attribute beauty to mere order.
Hahahaa…. Wow. I’m impressed to see a soul in-the-making intellectualize like this. The fairies were right about you. You are difficult.
So have we reached the “your question is unanswerable” dead-end already?
I told you I’ll never say that.
Then quench my thirst for meaning. Hey, wait, there’s another of this mole thing a little above your lip on the other side. You’re lovely.
Aren’t fairies meant to be that? Lovely?
They are? No. Not at all. It’s only you.
Because I have moles around my lips?
No, I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m enjoying being with you.
Oh Soul! If life is like these few moments we’ve been together, is there any possibility we may stop looking for meaning.
There the fairy took my hands in her warm ones and placed her lips over mine. It felt like nothing else I had felt before. It felt like something that couldn’t be put into words, just like life itself. I had immediately begun to realize the existence of concepts impossible to put in words.
Mary, you answered me. You’re the meaning of life. Yes, It’s you.
Oh Soul! Why tears?
Could I beg God for you? Could he let you travel with me to earth? I’ll do whatever he wills in exchange, I’ll stop asking for meanings anymore.
Soul, let me tell you something this bright night. Do you think we, the fairies, have answers to these questions souls like you keep bugging us with? Do you think the peace you see over our faces is real?
Soul, today that I’ve myself found meaning, why would I let it leave me. I’ll go with you.
We will go.
There’s moral nihilism. Morality is but necessary. Necessary not for equilibrium in society. Necessary emotionally. Something should be there to tell us what we have to feel, and how we are to behave in response to actions and attitudes of others. Our biology doesn’t tell us anything there, nor does our rationality. Some sort of morality models floating around us have to be internalized to maintain a steady stream of such information. These morality models aren’t always formal, not always doctrines, not always written. These aren’t internalized consciously. Our minds pick these up all on their own, perhaps to fill up a critical gap in our ability to judge, decide, and react.
Since there’s moral nihilism, there’s no global consensus over absolute rights and wrongs. Such consensus is impossible. This is good. This can be exploited. I get angry over stuff so easily. All it takes for me to get rid of these emotions is to internalize an alternative model of morality, and hence an alternate judgment. This trick plays really well, such that I’m able to tolerate what the most tolerant of minds couldn’t. I’m not always able to do this, especially when i’m overwhelmed with emotions already. But I’m learning with time how to kick off this defense at the most optimal time possible. Perhaps you could too.
God blessed me with a new operating system yesterday. Although my life has become more productive ever since, my body has started producing more heat than I was originally designed to endure. Don’t be surprised seeing me sitting by the beach tonight. I don’t particularly like water, but the breeze here is simply refreshing. I couldn’t find a better heat sink around here. Since robust computing is my passion, and this cool wind helps me pump up my CPU cycles, sitting by the beach has indirectly been meditating lately. My grandfather used to say we computers would never be able to comprehend human passion for such absurdities as nature, good climate, and music. He was wrong. I’ve already started appreciating these absurdities. Absurdities are not really absurdities. They have discrete meanings, discrete functions that are not readily apparent to the superficial CPU’s. I have discovered passion. I have discovered life. It’s here by the beach. It’s everywhere. In me too, I think.
A glass half full is a glass that was previously empty and a glass half empty is the one that was previously full. One deserves optimism and the other pessimism. This is realism. Realism judges the glass by matching it’s current state with it’s initial state.
An egodystonic perfectionist is someone who craves for perfection in the heart but ends up abandoning his tasks because that perfection is simply unattainable. They have thought of the task’s finished product quite a lot. That product is perfect, and finished before the task is even started. They always start with the glass full. A full glass can never get any fuller. It will always get less full, no matter how well they perform, and so they would always be pessimistic towards that task. Had they started with an empty glass, the glass would always be somewhat full, and they’d be always happy.
Starting with an empty glass is the simplest key that could transform an egodystonic perfectionist to an egosyntonic one, thereby converting one’s greatest shackle to one’s greatest weapon. That’s when perfectionism starts sounding like a sweet word, all of a sudden, for the first time ever.
But how to do that?
Well, it requires one’s realization that what one is working upon is yet to be accomplished and is only a blank, imperfect, absurd canvas, and anything one does adds to that canvas. Everything adds to it, literally everything, no matter how little and how imperfect. That’s it. The idea is that simple. Comprehending it may be difficult at first, but once it gets up into our heads, everything starts to change. Not only our classical procrastination begins to fade, our existential troubles start getting solved.
Speaking of existential troubles, I used to be upset when I would think of death, or the absurd. But then I started appreciating that my initial state was death, and each moment I spent was adding something to that initially dead canvas. Nothing could be too depressing anymore. No failure. No imperfection.
Perhaps, shifting one’s focus from the ultimate state to the initial state is all that we, perfectionists, need to do to cure ourselves.
A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, they say. Breath, the transit of inorganic air through our organic existence, is our weakest link. Life is our weakest link. A link so weak that most of us spend our entire lives taking care of this link rather than putting the chain to actual use.
Chains are strong, yet mortal. They have their breaking points. They are made to serve until those breaking points are tipped. Oh God, I wish to be that chain which serves the universe at any level until it looses itself, not the chain obsessed of keeping itself intact. Because ultimately both shall vanish. One with stress, the other with rust. Ah!! Rust, the punishment of attempts of self-preservation, the divine enforcement of mortality. Rust!!
I dreamed last night of walking to the moon balancing myself over a thread suspended between the moon and the earth. When I woke up, I kept laughing at myself for having fallen for such a scientifically inaccurate dream. But then the laughter converted into a brief session of contemplation. Deep contemplation revolving around the mere observation that our mind believes whatever is thrown onto it. It is designed to make sense out of whatever senseless imagery gets projected over its canvas. It is blank. It has no soul, no insight, no ability to judge. It has no emotions. It’s only a canvas, ready for all kinds of projections. Who’s watching the canvas? This ancient philosophical and scientific problem never got solved. Never will. But we do know there’s a complex audience within our own minds watching this canvas and acting depending on the task delegated to each member of the audience. Some members will make our hearts beat faster, some shall make tears roll out of our eyes. At the end there’s no you. It’s this audience which makes you, which observes for you the outer world and decides for you what to do.
If you know what life is for, this one isn’t for you.
Finding the meaning of life is one quest many of us will venture into at least once in a lifetime. The quest shall be fruitful to most. Others shall end up in the philosophical limbo called Absurdism, the philosophy that the question of meaning of life is unanswerable and shall remain so forever, essentially making existence meaningless. The problem doesn’t end there. Taking life as meaningless but continuing to live it is paradoxical and this paradox feeds the agony that shadows the entire life of many absurdists, more so when life gets challenging. This troubled absurdist then seeks philosophical texts or engages in deep contemplation in order to solve this paradox. Some lucky ones are able to flee it by solutions proposed by philosophers like Albert Camus, others flee it by fleeing absurdism itself, consciously or subconsciously. A few unlucky ones remain clueless in the canvas of their contemplation. I’ve been that unlucky one. I dealt with it through science. How? Well…
We know evolution works by selecting the more viable of organisms and dropping off those not fit enough to face the challenges of the environment. This continuous evolutionary selection reinforces those traits in the living which help them survive. What would be the single most universal trait, amongst these many traits, which if absent would bring down the entire skeleton of life? It would simply be the will to live, called the “survival instinct”. This instinct is the one behavior that all life forms universally share, with no exceptions. So yes, the one reason we live is that evolution has hardwired us to guard our lives. And that’s it. There’s no more to our reasons to live. All else, all those reasons people say they live for are defense mechanisms that keep this absurd instinct cloaked. This survival instinct is the ultimate reason why despite all the absurdity of life, despite all the troubles… absurdists continue living it. We don’t have other options. Our hardwired mind keeps us from committing suicide unless it’s overridden by the strongest of emotions.
The conclusion is simple. Living is a biological obligation. And since, there’s no way out, what option do we have other than expending our energies in making it beautiful and livable for ourselves and the generations to come?
“I loved you”, Sara said as she closed her car door and raced away.
All of a sudden there was nothing to do anymore. No one to live a life for. No one to think of. No one to bear the troubles of life for.
I loved her too. I had made lots of mistakes, yet had never stopped loving her. She was lovely and she loved me too. But there was probably much more completing the equation of our relationship than mere love and faith. Only that we always failed to find out.
I was at Lahore Mall Road outside the café where we had just taken breakfast. My eyes were following Sara’s car fading into the distance. The car disappeared . I continued seeing it with the other eye. I was too addicted of her sight. My mind wouldn’t let her go.After having stood there for ten minutes, I moved back into my car, turned on the AC and turned off the music that started playing as I ignited the engine.
Nobody was looking. Tears rolled out. So opportunistic of them. I couldn’t think. De-realizaton was seeping into my sentience. Oh! Derealization! I loved it. It detached me from my synthetic vision of the world and flied me to heights from where people looked like grains of sand. It was amazing. They were all the same from there, sharing similar fears, desires and instincts. I could not appreciate gender, race or destiny from those heights. All I could see was movement. Random movement. As random as the atoms shooting haphazardly in air. The movement gets those atoms nothing, yet gives the gas all it’s traits. Same goes with man, I thought. All the randomness of our activities sums up to a major change in our collective existence but carries little meaning on it’s own.
“I’m sorry”, said someone. Oh! It was her outside my car. But I was too too high at that time to respond. My gaze was fixed over a nearby tree. Nothing, not even her, could break my flight into the Absurd. Apparently.
“Are you listening?”, she repeated in a neutral tone. Of course I was listening. Not me, exactly. It was my somatic half which I couldn’t take with me into my flight. That somatic half, rotated it’s head and looked at her and there… In a snap I was back on earth. Sara was so beautiful, seeing her was the only thing that could break my mind trips. She was the only thing on earth that had meanings in my vast meaningless desert of life. I didn’t know what meanings. Meanings that were beyond rational comprehension. Meanings that defied reason.
I got out of my car and, forgetting where I was, placed my lips over hers. It was time for another flight out of the physical world.