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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dreaming of An/The End

We all dream of beginnings, but how many of us dream of the end result of these beginnings? Also, those who tend to take a glance at the status quo at any given moment, but then seem to be able to throw together visions of what things will be like in the future, and how everything will cease to exist, are they pessimistic in their nature, or attempting to be realistic, or should such thoughts and visions never be entertained? Today, I decided to jump right into some of the questions that have plagued me my whole life, even to this day! 

This is one of those things that has kept me up at night, wondering about whether or not I’m getting things wrong and being unnaturally cynical, or if of all the people around me at any given time, it is kind of my responsibility to point this perspective out and remind them of its existence. But the painful realization in my life has been, the further along I get in life, the more fear of the ultimate unknown, the end of life as an individual life form knows it, begins to grow. While there normally may not be anything wrong with this perspective, I have seen too many people worry themselves sick with uncertainty, at a time when they in some way should have reflected on their lives and made peace with it. I can’t say that I was taught this about being the way to “live”, but with my cursory and often vague knowledge of most things that I do know, a concept from Hinduism that I was introduced to regarding the four stages of life that most people go through, the last stage of “sanyas” or voluntary asceticism, where the individual, after having grown up, settled down, and raised a family to carry on her or his legacy, would move away from things of an “earthly pleasure” nature, including sexual intimacy, eating meat, consuming alcohol and other items of this nature, etc. People still do this in India, where for many natural reasons, people don’t eat meat anymore after they hit the age of fifty, or thereabouts. But even with this sort of attitude, it is certainly very shocking the sheer number of people my grandparents’ age I’ve seen wither away, pining for a spouse who passed on decades ago, and with every meeting with well-meaning and concerned relatives, they launch into a dramatic recounting of the ills of the world at the moment, and how they wished things were still the same when they used to be the average age of people in the room. Sometimes, while witnessing this kind of scene, with its own overly familiar themes of denial, regret, anticipated loss, and remorse, I tune out and start thinking to myself that if I find myself doing such things at any point in my life, I better just end it all right then and there, because being a self-regretting, dependant, unable to go on but somehow waking up each new day to follow through with the same cycle of overt emotional distress, well, that’s something I’m not interested in doing at all. In all honesty, the last thing I would like to be is in denial of the end, however it may come, and whenever such is ordained. Look at me, making it sound like the end of my existence is somehow prophesized and common knowledge to those who guard ancient knowledge.

I have almost kicked the bucket a couple of times, myself. Once, I almost drowned while at the beach, but not really. This was after seeing a person drown at the same beach a week earlier, so come to think of it, even though I was in my late teens and had my father about as a chaperone, I guess I needed to wear those little arm floats and limit myself to the kiddie pool, so as not to endanger my life. The second time was when I had multiple seizures, collapsed on a hard floor, and sustained head trauma in the form of a hairline fracture to my skull, before being unconscious in the hospital for a couple of days. When I woke up, I was not too thrilled for being able to do so, at that time. Of course, I am more grateful that I did not miss out on the rest of my life, as I continue to experience it on a daily basis, but I have to admit, there is still a lot of this it-would-have-been-better-to-never-wake-up again kind of thinking going on. I’ll have to put that down to my still getting used to the madness of the World as I have come to know and refer to it, and with each passing day, the incremental frustration of seeing the horrific lies that transformed into vague truths, molded into a hideous reality to which we are all tethered by leashes we ourselves cling on to. Yet, and this is where I make the point I wanted to make, I have yet to spend extended amounts of time wanting to die, and this could very well be the simple fact that as able as I am, and with age on my side, now more “relatively” than before, surely, no matter how great the state of depression that I have allowed to take a hold of me, I’ve managed to pull myself back from the brink. To be perfectly honest with you, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here before, but when I was finishing up high school, I didn’t think I wanted to live past 23. In my head, that was a good age by which to have done everything I wanted to do, the benefits of having a short “bucket list”, I suppose. And no, it was not some ploy to game the cycle of “rebirth”, which if we were unhappy with our lives and could manage to scheme it, we would all hit a magic reset button and come back reborn as human beings again. When I turned 23, I decided that 28-30 would be a good time by which to get off my lazy, procrastinating ass, do what I wanted to do “in this life”, and then end it all. Guess what, and thanks more to poor self-confidence, self-worth, and seeking to live a life of purpose (whatever that means to you), here I am, pushing my way through, heading to 40, slowly but surely. I am not regretful of my age, do not get me wrong, and neither am I the kind of person to rue missed opportunities all that much. Still, it is a weird sense of failure when, after setting out a “program” for the rest of your existence, you cannot even be motivated enough to follow through with it. For those of you reading this going, “But that would be like, suicide, or something,” firstly, it isn’t like anything, it is suicide, and secondly, for as much as suicide is vilified in our common misconception, I think that it may be one of the bravest things to, after deciding that you have objectively had enough with life as you know it, to end it and let the world move on. Clinging to life, for me, is something, though naturally instinctive, that turns into much too much of a chore if the circumstances that we must endure remain unalterable, and therefore constantly detestable. 

Just look at some of the celebrities who took their own lives in the last few years. Imagine having all of what we imagined they had, and all the things we believed they were able to do but were out of reach for us because we are only lesser mortals. I can’t imagine that a comedian like Robin Williams would take his own life, but when I think about it, and now when I look back at some of his stand-up comedy, I believe I can detect that sadness that was always a few inches from slipping out and jarring us awake as to the absolute extent of what this man had to deal with, every single day of his life. For all this grandeur that we imposed people like him, through our lack of knowledge of these people as individual human beings, we give nary a thought to the fact that they, very much like us, have moments of doubt and disillusionment, and springing from this, sometimes the urge to act out and take their own lives. For me, this is a constantly repeating example of how we, people, citizens, individuals with a penchant to greet another new day, how we subject ourselves to believe strongly enough in the prizes our civilization promises us, only to spend our lifetimes trying to reconcile its bitter inconsistencies. Too many happy, smart, imaginative people, real life-of-the-party types, I have known and now miss because for some inexplicable reason, they hid the scars and tedium of their ongoing battle with their lives, their existence as determined by the circumstances in which they found themselves in.

I think it is important to, at the start of anything, accept that it will end, in one way or another. Be it our lives, the lives of people we love and care for, the washing machine you purchased a few years ago, your favorite clothes, your pet cat or dog, your ability to do things as you age, your ability to enjoy a certain set of things in a specific combination, all of it, all of this, is one day going to cease to exist. And, that is perfectly all right. We have been too conditioned to see ourselves as immortal in our purpose, in our conquering of the ignorances that exist in our little, confounded worlds, acting like we were sent to fix that which we did not create, and then struggling to achieve the impossible because of its sheer improbability. All of our lives we have heard messages of striving against all odds, and coming out of the deepest depths and doldrums to achieve what was once thought impossible. The trouble with these stories isn’t that they are fraudulent or otherwise untrustworthy, but the fact that the message being driven home is one of continuing life in spite of there being nothing to look forward to. Maybe there truly is not, or perhaps maybe, you decide that there is not. At the end of the day, if I respect you as an individual, then no matter how “stupid” your decision to end it all, I will have to respect this too. I may even go so far as to argue that the ability to take your own life, ideally without having taken anyone else’s life prior to this, may in fact be the one act that we can call truly “human”. It takes a special kind of self-realization to say that you can honestly will yourself to end your existence, and that of the millions of cells that make up your body and its working bits. However, this, I will save for another post.

Right now, I am here to have you consider that looking for the end, as a means of being able to identify it, to visualize it, is a necessary part of deciding whether or not to undertake something. Many of you may argue that if we do this, no one will start anything because everything always ends in nothingness, of some kind. Yes, very true this is, most certainly. However, consider for a moment that as conditioned, civilized beings, we are prone to believing in this way of life, and to be an active part of it to sustain it, unto death if necessary, so that any attempts at escaping or “shirking” our responsibilities to the “greater good”, as it were, was to be punished by ridicule and shame. What we think we become, or we manage to manifest into reality. Nevertheless, I am not asking you to focus on the end and make it happen. No, I am only asking that a more thorough analysis that looks at things from start-to-finish, beginning-to-end, is something we need to do more of. Not every invention that was ever brought into this world was necessary. Not every thought or theory had to be acted upon or researched. Not every act of important people had to be chronicled. No. We let ourselves create an edifice of misery, a testament to our failed belief that we were better and above all that we surveyed, and that in us was the power to escape what Nature imposed on us and be able to do interesting things like, live forever, or own every bit of land worth owning, or every single note and coin of currency ever printed in the world. Such grand illusions, such hollow dreams. The world of today needs to better deal with the excesses of the past, manifesting themselves and necessities of the present. Maybe we don’t need cars and vehicles, or machinery, or apartment buildings that reach the sky, or to be dependent on oil and natural gas to sustain our flimsy existence, or even perhaps, supermarkets and stores where we can get the latest items of fashion, or food from around the world, or even to keep producing things in excessive quantities and relying on mathematical equations to explain how there is always waste in nature when something is created. Nature is a far more efficient system than anything we will ever hope to create. And this too is all right. Maybe it is time to get off our human throne and understand the place we really occupy in this world. Maybe it is time for us to evaluate, any and all ideas for a future for our species, by I do not know, accepting the fact that we are animals, maybe slightly more capable than some other animals, but animals nonetheless. Maybe, and I so hope I can see this happen, we will work out a fundamentally simpler way of life that offers us the happiness we crave so ceaselessly, night and day. It can be anything, really. But, I honestly believe, and look for your inputs on this subject as well, whether with me or against me, that a tendency to plan for things, with a view of the end in sight, is a natural and necessary way of living a more wholesome life. Perhaps this way, we can save ourselves the constant agony of being blatantly lied to by others, those who care for us and can’t stand to see us in pain, but have no way to help us deal with life because they too are shackled by the conditioning that causes us our grief. Perhaps it’s time to stop being willing to be led by the emotionally blind who spend a large part of their lives with vacant, empty smiles, trying to convince the world of their happiness, but crying themselves to sleep every night. Maybe when we accept our limitations, we will stop wasting in the interests of the few, and be able to provide for the many. Maybe, just maybe, the time has come to collectively accept our mortality, not as a burden, but as a liberating state of being that allows us true freedom. Maybe, just maybe…
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