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.