I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.
― Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend
As a child, my father and I watched science documentaries as the rest of the country watched football. To this day, when I feel a deeper shade of indigo, I turn to space. A documentary, a book, it doesn’t matter. So tonight I came across this scaled map of the solar system.
UE Designer and fellow Los Angeleno, Josh Worth, made the map possible through the use of horizontal scroll. And what a scroll it was! I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly enthralled or for all my toxic thoughts to dissipate into a seemingly endless scroll of…..NOTHINGNESS.
It got me thinking about how humanity interprets and copes with its own insignificance. Not many centuries ago, we thought we were the center of the universe. As new information persisted, it quickly became clear just how small we really are. Not just in relation to matter, but in relation to space. There is so much ["empty"] space.
Whether you more strongly feel the monumental significance of tiny things or the massive void between them depends on who you are, and how your brain chemistry is balanced at a particular moment. We walk around with miniature, emotional versions of the universe inside of us.
I’ve always felt grateful for being the speck of consciousness in a vast backdrop of void. Like a fervid memory in one’s life. Life isn’t all memories. It’s mainly just time. At least that’s what seems to be the case when a special moment lived in time sinks deeper into the past and the moments spent between then and now start to blur. Space is sort of like that time between a fond memory and the present.
It’s reassuring to know that no matter how depressingly bleak or ridiculously momentous we feel, the universe, judging by its current structure, seems well aware of both extremes.
As present day humans, we’re all a bit myopic when it comes to imagining what something so disparate as nothingness really is, or what it isn’t, rather. Much less are we capable of delineating it. The thought of nothing existing before or after the universe throws some people into panic mode. It’s hard enough to believe that we as individuals will cease to exist. When I was a child, my thoughts looped the void that came before my own existence. It may sound pompous, but I found history to be a respite from the anxiety I felt from the thought of having not existed, because it almost gave breath to the extreme of nothingness I was before being what I am now.
Because of thoughts such as these, some prefer to live a muffled existence as an escape from the extremes that are found in the universe. Perhaps we can’t avoid the vast voids such as the space between Jupiter and Mars, but we can avoid our worldly voids, such as the price of fulfillment by not fulfilling, the pain of loss by never having, or the stabbing pains of the heart by simply limiting what you feel for someone. We try to be constant in an inconstant universe, because looking at the vastness of the other extremes makes us feel powerless; it’s safer to pretend we are capable of living in between. The authentically human concept known as, “Limbo”.
We are not insignificant.
We are merely an extreme.
Den som är allestädes är ingenstädes.
Perhaps this isn’t the most apposite place for a post like this, or maybe it is more suitable than the patently ridiculous, semiotic disposition of a post like this daring to proclaim it is.
As I sit here, thousands and thousands of miles away from where I was, not quite two weeks ago, I can’t help but feel time has stopped. I no longer look at the time, (aside from the occasional appointment), and the days have grown so dark here that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recognize daylight in this new country.
I’m not running. I can’t run. My body is much too weak to run. I’m simply following the motions of what is familiar to me; simply enjoying the pathetic romanticism of collapsing on a steep cobblestone road because I “forgot to eat”….for two weeks.
“You need to recognize you didn’t ask for this,” she says in a language that’s more comforting to me than the language that brought me here. “You simply didn’t want happiness.” Why would anyone not want to be happy? That’s a psychological (if not even philosophical) question that could be discussed further in a future post. This very question, however, loops in my mind as it hits me that I’m in what would seem to be a very random, frigid country on the other side of the world, that feels like a giant ikea; a country that somehow makes me both more and less aware of my quotidian existence.
Just a few weeks ago I was completely immobile; a feeling I’ve felt once before…..and like most of my acts of sundering continuity, I woke up one day without a word to say and boarded a same day flight.
The buildings here provoke feeling despite my feeble attempts to guise myself under some sort of Cartesian thought, while the waters promise me a blithe rest from all imperatives. If it’s not snowing, it rains so much I can’t distinguish the coalescence of rivulets trickling down my face.
I’ve reached a climax here in regards to understanding myself, thanks to not only professional help, but the places themselves. And so I’m choosing to retreat into solitude for a while and hope that no one takes offence. I may never be able to share this in depth with someone that turned out to mean more than I intended them to, but I wanted to at least share a piece of it with all of you who may be feeling the need to explore yourselves…..just, somewhere else.
I was standing in line for my daily mocha, when I started eavesdropping on a father telling his three sons, (of about 7 to 13), about the war in Syria. I prepped my eyes for the inevitable eyeroll that was sure to ensue after hearing yet another American, suburban parent inflict their political beliefs on their children. I was pleasantly surprised to see this was not the case at all. He described the present Syrian situation as clearly, unbiasedly, and thoroughly as a man could in a short matter of time to 3 young boys. Then he asked for their opinions without interjecting. The three had varying comments from “it’s not our business” to “we need to help them NOW!! We need to fight for them!”. Without making any of his sons sound more correct than the other, he drew out their reasoning behind their answers and developed a little mini debate over sandwiches and fizzy drinks.
Parenting done right.
With the recent ads in magazines, campaigns for “real beauty”, and the emergence of “normal Barbie”…I want to say something on my humble, digital soapbox. I find it irritating when being overweight is celebrated. It’s understood that the celebration has good intentions and a victory over torture and the inability to identify with what society deems a “normal body”. However, going to the complete opposite of the spectrum is not the right approach. It’s no secret that being overweight entails health consequences. I wouldn’t say “get it, girl!” to a smoker refusing to quit. Refusing to applaud to the acceptance and celebration of being overweight should not be treated with horror and frowns. It perpetuates the problem of a host of health issues this country has without addressing the issue it is trying to fix, which is to put an end to the ridicule and the feelings of being ostracized anomalies in (what tries to appear) a world of runway models. I think it’s a good start to build awareness of the different (and unique) flaws we all possess. This however, must be done by celebrating the best each unique individual can be. Yes, it is important to show that being big is NOT abnormal. Stretch marks are NOT abnormal. Cellulite is NOT abnormal. The same way someone shouldn’t be ridiculed about their poverty or broken limbs, an overweight person should not be treated like an anomaly. It’s cruel and ignorant. No one is flawless. And there are a vast number of reasons for weight gain; not just “laziness”. We just need to put an emphasis on individuality and healthy choices. A small boned person will never have thick, killer thighs like Ciara or Beyonce. A big boned person will never have a teensy waist or long thin legs like Miranda Kerr. SO WHAT?! Celebrate whatever shape/size/height you are when you are at your best. Celebrate your freckles. Not your sun damage. Celebrate your body. Not your fat. There is a difference. Celebrate the features that make you YOU; not the features that hide them. Your fat is not a part of what makes you, you. And neither is that unhealthy, waif-like look you got from fasting or drugs. We need to teach our children about healthy choices, individuality, and above all, respect; so we can all stop worrying about what stage of the journey other people are at.