I’m sitting in the basement lunchroom attending a seminar about marketing, but I have no fucking clue what in holy twat it even is. The woman teaching us has a mild midwestern twang to her voice, which isn’t enough to render her incoherent, but enough to make her irritating. The lesson, thus far, has gone the way of most other corporate lectures: boring, lazy, uninspired. We have managed to cover the most mundane of tasks including signing into an unresponsive network, troubleshooting a bad connection, and filling out a few password reset forms — none of which were relevant to the actual topic of the seminar. During this failing diatribe she managed to push the words, “handy” and “dandy.” I want to gouge my eyes out and throw them at her. If you couldn’t tell, I don’t like this woman. I’m sure that she’s very pleasant, but I just don’t like her. There’s something about her that makes my skin crawl. Maybe it’s the unrelenting unmotivated drawl that seeps out of her perfunctory grin. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s the harbinger of four hour seminars that make you realize how much your life sucks. I don’t know how this became about her, I think I’m just projecting because I can, and it’s convenient, and I’m uncomfortable. I hate the shirt I’m wearing. I hate the way the back of this seat pushes me forward and crunches my stomach, making my already enormous gut mash against my conservative button down and distort the fabric. This, like most things, serves as a reminder of my girth. The top of my thigh is sore; or is the bottom of my ass? I could never be sure when my ass ends and my thigh begins. It’s 10:30, still the morning, and while time is something of an enigma I can’t seem to shake the dread that I felt upon discovering that my cat vomited on my bed. I’ve decided to switch chairs, but I don’t want to make a scene or want people to wonder why I switched. I think about the person next to me, offended by my move, taking it personally. I want to say something, but they wouldn’t hear me and I would have to gesture or write it down, and more people would look up, and more people would wonder what was wrong. I just changed seats, but in doing so I accidentally kicked the empty chair in front of me. Everyone stared at me wondering what the commotion was, and wondered why I moved my seat. The person I was sitting next to is looking at me, puzzled. The other chair was worse, so I switched back. To make matters even more uncomfortable, someone came in to look in the fridge while I was switching seats and, to put it mildly, I think someone must be storing body parts. I started to worry that people would associate the sensory onslaught with the smell of my rancid anus lifting from my chair. This smell was punctuated by someone else in the seminar, a coworker, who said to the woman, “The fridge smells like garbage when you open it.” Everyone laughed, except the woman, who delicately raised her hand to her nose and scoffed. I looked up at her, stone-faced, and thought, much like your mouth.
In this episode, Michael has a revelation about himself, the job market for the hopelessly unemployed is examined, racism is briefly discussed (again), Jess talks about dealing with depression, and both have a bone to pick with the Ice Bucket Challenge.
All too often I find myself laying in bed, the covers wrapped around me, my cat cradled against my side, thinking that one day, in the future, at some time currently unknown to myself or anyone, I will simply cease to exist. My heart will stop beating, my breath will subside, and my brain, now deprived of oxygen, will slowly begin to die. I think about the colors I’ll see and the visions of past loved ones – the result of my dying brain releasing endorphins. Then, like a wilted flower, I will cease to be anymore. I’d be lying if I said that there isn’t a very large part of me anxiety ridden about the notion of not existing, but I think it’s just that – not existing; like Christopher Hitchens put it shortly before his own death,
“It will happen to all of that at some point you’ll be tapped on the shoulder and told, not just that the party is over, but slightly worse: the party’s going on but you have to leave.”
It is not death itself I’m worried about because there will be nothing to be worried about – no one to continue on worrying. I, like an extinguished flame of a candle, will simply be no more. To me, I will not exist much the same as not have ever existed. Though, it’s more than that, there will be no “to me”. I will not have the experience of not existing because the very thing that is “me” or “I” will cease to be. There are so many people who obsess about what death might be like and it simply won’t be like anything. The closest we could get is to imagine where we were in the year 600 A.C.E or any year before the year we were born. You have no recollection because there was no you to recollect. Like Mark Twain said,
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
I sometimes think of the notion of infinity and scare myself by imagining how, when I die, I will never exist again, ever. Even as I write this, I feel a chill, an unsteadiness, that once I am gone I will always be gone. I often always thought of death as sleeping, mainly because I think the idea of sleeping is comforting and familiar. Though, there is a massive difference between sleeping and death: you don’t wake up from death and sleeping isn’t infinite. I enjoy falling asleep knowing that there will be a largely unnoticed passing of time and then I will wake up again, the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world (at least, that’s the idea however, my mornings never quite go that way), but death isn’t like that – it isn’t comforting in that respect; death feels cold, foreign, and, again, infinite. I feel as though I’ll be waiting to exist again and that the infinite expanse will be an unavoidable hell that will never end. So, I’ve tried to console myself from this uneasiness by remembering that I won’t be yearning for anything because, I won’t be me. As I keep on saying, there will be nothing that I can miss or want or feel because I am no longer. And if I did exist at all, why would I be yearning for existence?
It seems settled, the fear and unknowing, but I still can’t shake this uneasiness. Even though I am completely aware of the fact that I will cease to be, I still manage to be consumed by this feeling of dread. Though there will be nothing to be worried about – nothing and no one to feel any feelings. My brother once said that his “main issue with death is the fact that you’re here and conscious now and soon you won’t be”. It seems to be the experience of life and living that makes us fear our demise – the very fact that we can reflect on it. Maybe this fear is the price of having self-awareness. It is not a stretch to imagine that the complexity that arose during our evolution largely depended on our desire to self-preserve.
So here I sit, again, writing this, still feeling the same uneasiness, but comfortable in the fact that I, me, can sit here at all – if even for a little while. I can not help but reflect on and end with this lovely yet poignant quote by Richard Dawkins:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
This is a rant. Just a brain that is bored. A boring brain being bored and boring.
I am not one to believe in hype or superstition. I don’t subscribe to the notion that the universe acts in accordance with your wishes or has the ability to even reflect on them. The idea that such catastrophes such as Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and anything by Deepak Chopra has managed to wind their way into the stream of public consciousness is disturbing, to say the least. I would like however, to reflect on the realm of influence – better known as “cause and effect” and why it is completely incompatible with the reality that we have come to love so much.
We like to believe that every single decision we make is somehow magnified in the latter part of our lives; that every single thing that has ever happened must have happened exactly as it did in order for the world to look the way it does. I propose, as many before me, that this is a mere construct of our mind’s willingness to make sense of the world around it. There is perfectly good reason – evolutionary speaking – to believe that everything we do has a direct effect on everything that happens (or most things that happen, anyway). It serves us to believe that killing that animal gave us food and making that shelter kept us warm or even, hurting that person stopped that person from hurting me. The problem with this view, aside from the fact that there are a multitude of things outside of our direct influence, is that the things that have happened in the past that supposedly influence the things that are happening in the present already happened and therefore, no longer exist.
I do realize that it is undeniable, based on the reality that we have come to accept, that if I throw a ball and it breaks a window that broken window was directly caused by me throwing the ball, but it makes absolutely no logical sense why the world actually functions that way. Between throwing the ball and it breaking the window time had passed making my initial decision to throw the ball nonexistent. So, how did the window break? Who or what broke the window? There is an issue with consistency here that I just cannot pretend to know the answers to.
There is also the issue of free will and making the decision in the first place. If every decision that is made depends on those decisions and actions made prior, every decision made by everyone at anytime would be predictable. If decisions that people make are predictable then, they do not really have a choice. Everyone already knows the decisions that they are already going to make and those decisions will have a direct effect on the decisions of others. Free will is incompatible with cause and effect. So, if we are just a massive Rube Goldberg machine with no real choice on the matter, why does it feel like we have choices to make and a will to protect?
It is amazing really, how we have come to understand life and the reality that we are a part of. We seem to be under such delusion that we cannot even conceive of a world without either one of these influences even if they are both completely incompatible. It is truly a triumph of the human mind…or a reflection of our stupidity. Either way it’s interesting.
I’m constantly in a state of half awareness. I mean, I know where I am, but I never quite know what I’m doing there. I’m somewhat like a moth or beetle fluttering around a lamp and thinking it’s the moon guiding me home. Sometimes, I think it would be nice to feel a purpose as others propose to think they have – sometimes I think I do. It’s that thing you feel when suddenly the whole world around you feels connected and every single atom composing your being seems indistinguishable from those around you. I have become such a cynic within my skepticism that, sometimes, I feel I’m denying myself the simple pleasure of feeling like I belong. Though, part of that is true – that the atomic particles we are composed of have influence on those nearby – it has yet to be established that any sense of connection we have with the world and each other is anything more than the firing of millions of synapses in our brains. It would be nice to feel like I have more reason to exist than existence itself. However, when looking at the alternatives, the many beliefs that cloud our judgements, and deceive our reality, I suddenly realize the consequence of such an appeal to that sort of thinking. I think life has meaning in itself. I am alive, I want to have a purpose, I could assign purpose to myself, therefore I have purpose. This seems so rudimentary as a foundation as I’m sure many have provided much more sufficient reasons and appeals to the purpose of our existence, but it is simply enough for me. My conscious mind is a self-contained system; to describe it as anything more would add a layer of complexity that is wholly unnecessary. So it seems that, for now, it would be easy to accept my own purpose for my own individual existence. But what becomes of my self-ascribed purpose when I’m dead? If my purpose is my own, would it not follow that it would also cease when I do? Here becomes the crux of the problem. If I once had a purpose and now I don’t, would I have ever of had a purpose in the first place? If death is the end of my existence, why would life ever really matter? If even the universe itself will end, what is the purpose of it all? This would be applicable only if one assumes a purpose must be eternal. Time itself is not eternal or infinite, but it would be hard to argue that time does not have purpose. Then, there is the issue of having to be conscious, and even sentient, in order to reflect on that purpose. A cave, or rock, river, or plant all could have purpose and they are not, in the least, cognizant of it. I’m not proposing much. Well, maybe I am. I just feel that life is so much more interesting when it could have meaning and purpose even if we have to assign it ourselves. After all, who else is watching us? Looking at life as a mundane routine fails to motivate. I’m trying to look at my life as something just a bit more important than I previously thought it was. I’m hoping it will help me make better decisions and follow through with my desires.