Oct 292008

I spend a lot of time thinking. Lately, I’ve been doing less of that. I havd long believed that human beings are irrational but I haven’t spent much time with the irrational. Until now. I’ve been learning to dance lately and have actually looked up dance videos. It’s ineffable in a lot of ways and I don’t have to justify my preference unlikd rationality which requires support, evidence and argumentation. The arts are something that you just do and feel.

Lately, I’m impressed by river and highland dances. Check this out:

I’ve also been getting more into stories in movies and books and even comic form. Humour is something else I am experiencing, and music. Like really listening to music with my eyes closed and not thinking about anything else. It’s like a meditation of its own.

I encourage you to relax and live outside your head for a bit if you have a tendancy to think too much like me. Take a dance class, learn to draw or just listen to complex music. All of these things are uniquely human and create certain experiences within us. As a science-minded person I have had a tendancy to discount personal, subjective experience in favour of an objective, dispassionate observer and this has caused me to miss out on some of the great experiences of being human. After all, no matter how much scientific knowledge we may acquire, we are still locked into our personal experience. So enjoy it! It most likely will improve your quality of life.

Oct 222008

I like to pretend I’m a ninja sometimes. That I’m completely unnoticed. I don’t even cast a shadow. I don’t know why. One of my favourite characters is Will from The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman (part of a trilogy I heartily recommend), because of how he learned to blend in and go unnoticed. There are times I feel like I don’t have an impact on the world, and I like it.

Maybe I’m scared to think that I have a real impact on this world that we live in. Maybe I’m hoping I can be a dispassionate observer of this world without corporeal form or force. That way, I won’t have to be responsible for my actions. Maybe that way I don’t even have to justify my existence, which caused my mother suffering when I was born and created suffering for countless other beings since then. Our lives cannot exist without suffering. From the plants and animals killed to sustain me and my lifestyle to the suffering of the fellow humans that work so hard to make my lifestyle possible. The truth is, I do have an impact. If I died tomorrow, my passing will have an impact, emotionally on everyone around me and on a grander scale as there is one less mouth to feed, two fewer lungs to fill.

Maybe in the face of having a real impact on everything and not knowing what sort of impact I’m having, I would rather believe I don’t really matter. That I can hide away from the world and not really have an impact. But I do. All the damn time. Even breathing, eating, sleeping have an unknown impact on everything around me. If I can accept this and raise my consciousness, the next question would be, knowing that I have an impact, what do I do about it? Do I calibrate my life to have a smaller impact, or a largely positive one? That is, do more good than the bad I cause? What are my options?

Do I have to justify my existence? The existentialists knew this. They talked about being thrown into this world without having a choice in the matter. I’ve been thrown into the world, pushed and pulled by forces I don’t understand, both internal and external, and I have to deal with it. Accept it, make some sort of meaning out of it and figure it out. Therein lies my salvation. If and when I figure it out, I can follow it however I choose to. Morality and almost every conception of the good life may be relative and abitrary, I still have to pick one to be able to do something. In this case, not choosing is a valid choice and almost certainly the wrong one.

But I will figure it out. I will figure out my place in this world and know that I am having an impact all the time and that I can choose a lot of the nature of my impact.

This may be an existential crisis. Thankfully, I am not alone. Others have dealt with this issue and I will search their answers out. Steve Pavlina has another perspective, as always.