My contributions to Fractured Paths have taken on something of a pell-mell hotchpotch formula in recent weeks. Ironic, considering that formulae exist in a far more organized fashion. Right?
However, I am going to focus on a point I made in my last post. A point that, I feel, is inescapable in modern society. I say modern society — perhaps 'contemporary society' would better suit the dressing. After all, what society am I in right now if not a society contemporary to my existence? Hmm. Anyway. We are all of us within our own ‘when’, our own ‘now’. That now coincides with billions of others. And we all have certain tags. Male or female. Black or white. Gay, bisexual, straight. British, American, European, Asian, African, Australasian.
I could go on and on, mentioning age, religion, philosophy. We are all so different and yet, so similar.
Whether the individual harbours amenity towards these facts or not, they are writ large in the very physical manifestation of life. Our DNA — our individual code, created through a fusion between two other codes (our parents’) which comes from two sets of two other codes (our grandparents’) and so forth — is our biological program. Similar to an online multiplayer computer game of the 21st century — where technology, as far as accepted records explain, is at its very highest ever. Yet, the online game is limited. Even when managed and maintained by a team consisting of thoroughly enthusiastic and avidly punctilious members, the game is restricted by resources, software, working hours. By money. The game has dead ends. Eventually the human player staring at the screen directing his or her character will do a mission or quest or part of the game that somebody else has done in the exact same way. The game has corners. The game is...scripted. Ultimately, to some extent, it has to be. The designers have to know every possible outcome to every action, storyline and item — they developed the game or the software, after all.
We cannot, therefore, ever fully relate to a virtual world. At least not yet.
Our lives are not scripted. Certain things do always happen. We are born and we die; there is a period (in some cases, a tragically brief period) of life in between. The very start of our purpose. Presuming that there is a purpose among this species to, if not progress, at least survive and in many cases, reproduce. Beyond these indubitable and, with regards to death, inevitable core moments of life…well, anything might happen. Look around, think back. Soldiers, doctors, binmen, teachers, pupils. Friendship, love, betrayal, loss. Happiness, sorrow, laughter. A person’s very life can change in seconds and can also remain in a rut of stagnation for what feels like interminable amounts of time. A person might spend three days indoors eating junk food and reading or playing video games, only to step outside and, in minutes, be thrashed aside by a car.
The thing with living is that, we are only living as ourselves. I am Shaun Carter. I’ve only ever been Shaun Carter and I will only ever be Shaun Carter. When I was younger, my parents made certain decisions for me, just as their parents had for them. As we grow, we usually develop intellectually and in terms of maturity. We experience more. Emotions become less extreme in a trivial sense and take on a thicker shell. A shell that is more of a physical weight on us. If a child cries, it might be due to falling over or breaking a toy or simply being hungry. There needn’t be any physical pain — a child cries for its carer when it needs attention and comfort and soothing. If an adult with full faculty retention is crying…it is likely for a more severe reason (although I can be a grumpy bastard when I’m hungry). Take nothing away from the child, however. As the human being develops, so do the restraints, or the threats against, our happiness. A three year old wouldn’t understand poverty nor the pernicious feelings of worthlessness and failure that poverty can spread to people. However, when that three year old grows up, poverty might become a very serious peril. Something worse than peripheral. An outrider ever lurking just within your borders, prodding its spear here and there, questing for an opening, a weakness.
When a human finally does experience poverty, or redundancy in employment, or a bereavement — suddenly there is panic, sadness, and ultimately sorrow. There can be grieving, mourning, and an apathy towards making a stand. There can be a moment when…when what? When the adult cries — for attention and comfort and soothing. Human beings never lose their vulnerability, they just learn — through experience and a growing induration — to feel less. Not always is this a voluntary process. There exist human beings unfortunate enough to feel loss, sorrow, and betrayal on a basis which is far more constant than the next person. Which would be easier: losing five family members in one moment…say…in a car crash; or, to see one family member pass away every two years for ten years of your life? There is no rule as to when a person should cease to grieve. Many people are actually prone to feeling guilt when they try to pull away from grief, as if they owe their lost loved one a constant vigil of unhappiness in life to balance out the misfortune of the dead person losing everything. Would it be easier to grieve for five loved ones within a two month period of despair and then, slowly move on without these five influential people being around to offer guidance and a shoulder to cry on? Would it be simpler to merely ‘get it out of the way’?
There is no solid, tangible proof (as yet) of an afterlife, and so it is impossible to say whether a human being ‘comes back’ in their next life — to believe so would suggest that a human being is some form of core. A core which can drift between one vessel (body) and the next. Would this core be the soul? I don’t know. Either way, when a person dies, we don’t know if they are then ‘up there’ watching over us. Yet the thought can be a comforting one.
What we do know, many of us, is that this life is the here, the now. To stray away would be to forsake the gift of life granted us by our parents. Sometimes, some people believe there is nothing left for them. They cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nay, they don’t even believe the light exists anymore. Minds consumed by darkness.
In my notes for this blog, I’ve written down the word individualism. I think, seeing as this post has moved in an eerie direction towards suicide and suffering, that a link can still be made. Even a plan has room for ideas to grow organically. Individualism. I could speak politically, i.e. against collectivism. I could speak socially and voice support for what…the hermit? Individuals from an existential point of view…hmm.
Something I find irritating, despicable even, is when uniqueness is a state of being expressed by somebody. Of course, there exist certain medical cases where only a very limited number can be associated with the condition; true also, there are certain people who are famous or infamous for certain events in history. From Aristotle to Adolf Hitler, there is a vast list in between inhabited by people known worldwide, despite being long dead, for their contributions (good or bad) to society. However, in today’s society, there feels as if there is a palpable tension among many to be the most unique (something which is a paradox in itself). To feel love like never before; to understand pain in a way nobody else ever has — so that what, this person can receive eternal pity? When emotions are voiced. When love is declared. When somebody feels pain. There appears to be a proclivity (perhaps it has always been so) for certain people to grind away at this misfortune, and to revel in their feelings of affliction. Caged and yet content. I once knew somebody who appeared to thrive in circumstances where they were wronged. They would use this ill feeling against people. They enjoyed believing that they felt terrible inside, because this person could use it as a smokescreen for mood swings, for rolling forth a convoy of negativity while it was ever patrolled by these feelings of oppression. Individualism can be the opposite of collectivism. The move towards individual freedom. Being able to do whatever one wants to do (providing nobody else is harmed along the way). Surely, however, individual emotionalism is a counterproductive train of thought. Firstly, somebody else is almost certain to have been through a similar torment or trauma; secondly, collective emotionalism — an established state of thinking that people can turn to one another for help. Can ask a friend for advice. Listening, speaking through problems. Discussing possibilities both positive and negative. Can this not be a function of friendship? Would it not make sense to pursue — to some damned degree, at least — a collective emotional practice?
Who, honestly, would thrive off feeling pain that nobody could help them to assuage?