Some people find motivation in the knowledge of their own mortality.
I’ll make fun of them later.
Leaving aside the subtle-but-obvious difference between knowledge vs emotional-certainty-based-on-precedent-or-doctrine, I get little or no motivation from fear of death. Some, but not enough to warrant credit.
The certainty that I could die at any moment has been with me my whole life. I have been perpetually conscious of it since I came online as an autonomously sentient life form at the age of 3 years. The experience of becoming aware that People End has left me incapable of taking many things seriously, and this in turn has left me a little unmotivated.
But then again, here we are. You’re reading a thing I wrote with a measure of seriousness. Life is funny.
In any given moment, I am either sleeping or plugging the mental holes of self-affirmation. I do this primarily by eating, writing, drinking, making music, or taking photographs of clouds and tortured-looking trees (or drawing them; that will change your life btw). This is usually good enough, but the human animal is a social animal. Sometimes I just have go down the fucking mountain and interact.
The secondary way I fill these yawning gaps in existence is by comparing the results of these pursuits to the holes in the lives of others. I offer music for the hearing, pictures for the viewing, and – evidently – blargs for the reading. I also converse with, console, ridicule, lament, and occasionally sleep with other humans. I listen to them sometimes, and even occasionally think I understand what they mean/believe/want/hope for.
Then I go back up the mountain to be alone. Cuz fuck the world, I’m tired.
The more charitable people call it “being an introvert.” I call it “maintaining a casual face.”
Properly speaking, I don’t understand anyone. Neither do you.
By extension, that means no one will ever understand me either.
But God Knows You.
There has been a lot of bad noise lately about spirituality, religion, and other paranormal experiences. More precisely, there have been countless charlatans who have “known” God, and have cynically used that knowledge to make life difficult (or impossible) for their neighbours. Seriously. Fuck those guys.
It’s still possible – I think – to have experiences that can only be described as spiritual or religious, even if you have no God for it.
My suspicion is that these things are extensions of either the primary or secondary plugs for existential angst, depending on whether they come from within or without. And let’s be real: There’s no way to be sure which one it is. As far as metaphysics goes, the joke’s on us. Nobody in the history of the world ever knew shit about it, and I’m confident nobody living ever will.
The Razorblade Where God Lives
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an atheist. Occasionally I suspend disbelief for a moment, and consider the following:
God exists, but not in any sort of way.
It isn’t a person, intelligence, or in any way separate from anything we can experience, whether tangible or abstract. It is infinitely present in infinite ways and dimensions… except that it isn’t. The universe itself is It (or It is the universe, except that neither of those statements can be precisely true), and every one of the innumerable subatomic particles in the universe contains Its fullness of being, because the building blocks of existence can only be described as tendencies to exist.
We are lucky enough to experience It up to 5 ways with tremendous intensity (6 ways for anyone with precognitive or telepathic powers, although there probably aren’t a lot of you, so I’d keep it a secret… and use your powers for good). But that’s all we get – five randomly developed ways of experiencing God and the universe – 5 senses, and that’s just for the lucky ones who get the whole package.
For all that, we’ll never know It’s there because It’s too everywhere and too everything to see.
So that was a big fucking waste of time to think about. Fun though.
On a slightly darker note:
The mind may learn that there is no God, but the heart still sings of a time when it knew Him.
This is of the days when Narnia was whole, Noah had saved humanity, war had a righteous purpose, and the Black Jesus was coming back home soon to settle all accounts.
These gods we have now are silly by comparison. Beginnings, endings. Proof of life. Always leaving, but never gone til it’s too late. The past’s end and the future’s endless postponement.
There was in my heart a god who loved all, protected all, served all; a god whose name was “The Merciful.”
Who sat in the back of all thought, rather than dominate it. Between halves of the brain. In the spaces between all the atoms, or in their perpetual tendencies to Be and End so quickly they could hardly be said to have been there at all.
You couldn’t fit a razor through it, the line between the moments. But you had to try.
Never knew my place among the sinners. Couldn’t know. Didn’t want to. Had nothing to gain by it. Went looking for it. Found it. Learned it. Loved it. Left it. Hurt. Grieved. Learned little. Gained nothing. Wasn’t supposed to.
And there I was surprised to find The Merciful. Again. Older now though. And wiser.
Same sneaky fucker as before though. Still hiding in the cracks, refusing to exist.
Once you begin down the dark path of metaphysics, it seems to pretty much ruin you for everything else.
The Wisdom of Being Stupid
What our senses and intellect give us are sensory data and interpretation, which in turn become bias. This becomes dogma, which is then challenged by new sensory data, and then we have a mental breakdown, recover, synthesize, repeat, and call the narrative The History of Philosophy. It’s a lot of fun, but basically stupid. And that’s okay.
The daily indulgence of this uncertainty is – I think – one of the most important things we can do as humans, if indeed humans are capable of anything remotely important.
Don’t just question authority; question its right to exist. Metaphysical uncertainty may be the only thing that truly separates us from beasts, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing,
We may have built the entire history of civilization on the fact that we “burn stuff we found” (respect to Jon Stewart), but that never would have happened had somebody not realized that fire didn’t only destroy; it was useful to us, and somebody figured that out by questioning the prevailing narrative (i.e. “Fire hurts, and hurt is bad”). And now that fire is less of viable option for energy transduction (you know… emissions and the environment and shit), we’re forced to reconsider how we can fit our agenda into the ways of the sun, wind, and tides.
In other words, our capacity for mental breakdown might be the only thing keeping us from running around the forest and foraging roots. Forever.
It’s probably good that the link between mortality and motivation is working out for some people, since there’s no goddamn way I’m inventing a better solar panel.