The Excerpt of a Tangent
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about, well, thinking – the human capacity for abstract thought and their innate ability to project those concepts onto paper. How organic tissue somehow possesses the raw power of creation. In a more solipsistic take, how can I trust the integrity of any of my thoughts? If my mind is the sole author of my world, then what would stop my mind from pulling wool over my eyes? I would be none the wiser. I guess that makes me a hopeless lunatic obsessed with metaphysics. I’m not quite so desperate for understanding though, because understanding is the murderer of imagination. Without the drive to learn, the will to live stagnates and perishes. If we were omniscient, we would be purposeless and wretched creatures.
Even more odd for me is trying to project my thoughts into somebody else. Someone who has lived an equally full and insightful life possesses a mind of equal depth as well. Despite equal potential, their experience and beliefs all culminated into an entirely different lifestyle. Their life bred an entirely different world. Yet, I think we’re all inclined to view the person on the other end of the room as some vacuous shell; devoid of depth. Our head has room for one mind, and I don’t think there will be any vacancies any time soon. Truthfully, it’s terrifying to ponder that reality. Every passing figure in the night encapsulates a lifetime of pain, pleasure, vice and charity. How could I ever hope to match the entire human race?
The subtle acknowledgement of this fact is present in everything that we do. It manifests itself in our education, in our politics, in the very essence of civilization. We see things superficially because we are evolved to. The human mind cannot understand infinity and void; which is both an opposite and identical state simultaneously. I want you to close your eyes and try to think of nothing – nothing at all. I don’t mean blackness in your head and I don’t mean silence. I mean undiluted void. I want you to try really hard until your head begins to ache. You cannot, because we are animals bred to hunt and survive. We are not computers; we design these machines as apparatuses to perform tasks that we physically cannot. As our ambitions grew, so did our revelation that we are simply not enough. We are not infallible, therefore we are not enough.
I guess this tangent is a bit pessimistic. I’m sure we all read up this paper with the intention of being water-boarded by existential dread. But take solace in the fact that acceptance of our limitations provides a unique retrospect into ourselves. If we can rationalize that we did not simply, because we cannot then perhaps we can put contrition to rest. People say that anything is possible. I disagree. I think that sentiment is fallacious by nature. You cannot just shove brainlessly ambiguous and optimistic slogans down someone’s throat until they choke on bloated expectations. A paraplegic cannot compete in the Olympics, the mentally deficient cannot write theses on astrophysics, and the impecunious cannot live in luxury. Once you denounce impossibility, you can focus on feasibly attainable objectives. You enable a more auspicious future and dispel disappointment.
So, here we all are. We’re in college – in a new lifestyle pursuing the careers we always dreamed about. Some of us dreamt of the salaries instead. That is why it is absolutely imperative to not condemn yourselves to a lifetime of slavish misery, toiling in a field that will bear no fruit. This is why you must understand both the limitations of your body and your mind. If you subject yourself to torment, then your incapacitated mind will provide no bounty anyway. Take time to remember your incentives for studying your field. If you cannot discern what those incentives are, then you are in the wrong field. You must pursue your unique definition of success, because that success should bring you joy. I will not endorse hedonism, as that is a reckless practice that will likely kill you, but you must derive at least some pleasure from your work; lest you become a slave to your own recklessness.
This is why I love the mind so much. Also, this is why I enjoy writing. Chronicling these thoughts in the linear chain of which they occur is fascinating. It provides a viable method of understanding how the mind flows. Even now, the stark juxtaposition between the last paragraph and the first is striking. I find this is because thought is not meant to be fixed. Thought is a dynamic energy that prospers on its ability to germinate in all directions. If I am able to comprehend which ways the mental current flows, then I will more effectively be able to ascertain how other people think. See, we are not so different after all. On a rudimentary level, we seek the same things in life – the opportunities to enjoy that life. I can guarantee that I’m not the only one who has stayed up late at night, thinking of things beyond myself.
What divides us most is our apprehension toward one another. As I said earlier, we only see things on a superficial level and it is a struggle to imagine deeper. I, as a writer and fellow human being, challenge you to do so. Have these conversations with friends and family. We embolden and empower ourselves through dialogue. We can reinforce our strongest sentiments or we can have them challenged. I denounce the notion that ideology is hallowed ground to be untouched by critics. In that crucible, beliefs are made or broken. As subjective as this topic is, we cannot justify any belief as “right” or “wrong”. We can, however, determine what belief has caused more harm than good. We can gauge toxicity by the negative impact it inflicts on human life.
We cannot sit by while the world dictates our fate because of our unwillingness to dictate our own. We are the authors of our fate, because we are humans with the capacity to understand. There are countless methods of subjecting a human to labor and idleness, but you are not a machine. Within your own mind, you painted vivid images upon reading this paper and you understood. In your own way, you understood. The simple fact that you can understand means that you owe yourself the dignity to bravely cut forward into an uncertain future. You owe yourself the courage to dare others to do the same. I would argue that in a world of 7.4 billion people, it is vain to brood over loneliness. Each of those 7.4 billion people experiences the same things, just in different ways. Within that sentiment, we are united by our humanity. This, my peers and constituents, is what it means to have a mind.