On Our Limitations

We cannot imagine blistering cold in a desert of heat. We cannot imagine joy when we despair. We are limited to the moment and to our present states, and anyone who believes otherwise is simply delusional.

Our knowledge and understanding of the world is an infinitely small fraction of what there truly is. We think we know more than we do, and we form opinions on topics that we don’t even understand. Most of all, we seek meaning in a world where there is no inherent meaning. The world isn’t happy, sad, good, or bad. The world just is.

Despite, or even because of our limitations and our contradictions, I view humans as fascinating creatures. We are a product of evolution mixed with probability, and all of our basic needs have helped us survive as a species. All of the love, hate, longing, and despair we experience in our daily lives has evolved to keep us alive.

I often wonder — if there is a God, would the God be objective or subjective (or neither)? How could a being ever be completely objective? And how would it even be possible for God to be subjective, as thoughts contain subjectivity, and subjectivism is derived from feelings which are, in turn, derived from evolution? Did / does God evolve? And if God is “perfect,” does that mean he isn’t subjective, since perfection cannot be subjective? (Or can it? What even is perfection, and does it even exist?) Questions upon questions whirl in my head — not one discussed in Church, not one with a concrete answer (but that’s a different rant).

Sometimes I wish I could separate myself from my body and experiences to rid myself of these limitations (but would I still be “me,” without my body and experiences?). I want to take in the whole world at once, to feel everything yet nothing; and know everything, yet not know that I know anything. I want to strip my emotions from my thoughts, and to strip my thoughts from my consciousness — to become a higher conscious, perhaps. I don’t even want emotions or thoughts. I just want to know, to simply be.

I just finished reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and in many ways, I could see myself in Siddhartha’s younger, less enlightened days. He thought (like I think) that we are all like ants, like children, always seeking but never finding. At the end of the novel, Siddhartha becomes Enlightened because he is at peace. He does this by using love and interconnectivity as a blanket answer to all of his questions. But to me, the book was too simple. Love is just an overrated emotion, not an answer to life’s biggest questions. Maybe I didn’t really understand the book — I’ll probably reread it when I’m less stressed out!

Sorry if this post didn’t make much sense. Honestly, it didn’t make much sense to me either. Also, sorry if it sounds overly pessimistic because that’s not my intention. I intend to interpret the world in a “real” way — not pessimistic or optimistic, but objective. But due to my limitations, I don’t think I can ever begin to understand the world objectively because subjectivity skews everything.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” — Sylvia Plath

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In Defense of Melancholy

I look back on my childhood as a time of constant bliss. I remember asking my dad, “Why am I so happy all of the time?” There was just nothing to be sad about — I had love and support from my sister, my parents, my grandparents. I spun stories with my friends and lived my life in books, drinking knowledge. I had school, where I felt free to learn and grow. Life was so kind and I loved everything and everyone around me.

When I started to feel melancholy in middle school, I realized that seeming happy and carefree is directly linked to how much people like you. To a small extent, I molded my personality and even my thoughts to fit this realization.

Now, I no longer care to repress these periods of melancholiness when I feel the weight of the world. Nothing triggers it, and I still love life — but in a more deliberate, deeper way. I’ve become darker, more sensitive and empathetic. Feeling melancholy isn’t sadness in its entirety; it’s seeing the subtle shades of sadness interlocked with the joys in life. It’s seeing past the facade of bright lights and acknowledging the suffering beneath the smiles of those around us.

This feeling of melancholy has allowed me to reach in the inner parts of who I am and has helped me achieve a sense of peace. I have come to terms with the meaningless of our existence and the fragility of life, and through this acceptance, I have found a beautiful new appreciation of the world around me.

A Distraction

I love feeling busy. I enjoy the feeling of having things to do, places to see, and things to learn. But when I’m not doing something, I feel myself become sadder, more melancholy. I think about the fragility of life, the hard dirt that will bury us, and how we will all someday be forgotten.

And I wonder if being busy is just how we all distract ourselves from the truth that we like to ignore. The truth that our lives mean nothing, that the universe feels nothing, and that our society is spun around a fiction we see as reality.

Maybe life is a distraction from the coldness of the universe.

On Solitude

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other”
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

I dream of living on a mountain.

Ever since I went on Mount Hamilton to visit the Lick Observatory, I knew that I would spend many days on a mountain, alone. Looking at the world through a distant vantage point makes me feel as if my problems and everyone else’s problems don’t matter. Distance allows me to let go and appreciate. The stars are prominent, and I feel a profound awareness of the self and the surrounding universe.

It bugs me that society often associates solitude with loneliness. Being alone should be celebrated. Only through solitude — through peering into the depths of our soul, through dissecting our inner thoughts — can we begin to understand ourselves, and by extension, others. We say we value individuality and knowing who we are, but how can we ever truly know who we are without spending quality time with ourselves? And really, the worst type of loneliness isn’t being alone. It’s when you’re with people you can’t relate to, and you feel so out of place because you can’t enjoy yourself like everyone else seems to be.

There is a song I really like called “Nobody Knows Me At All” by The Weepies. I guess no one really knows me, because I don’t share all of my thoughts and feelings with anyone. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, let alone allow others to know who I am. I believe this is true with most people, and we’re all just alone. But the song is upbeat, because I think the songwriters understand that it’s okay if no one really knows who you are, because your soul is and will always be your beautiful secret. As long as you’re trying to understand who you are, and you like who you are, it doesn’t really matter if anyone else does.

It’s funny how we live in a world with 7 billion other people, and yet we still feel like no one can ever relate to what we’re feeling. But we’re never really alone with our feelings, thoughts, and even our actions. Somewhere, sometime, someone is doing what you’re doing right now. There might even be someone else thinking that at this exact second.

Life is full of contradictions; as alone as we are in our minds, as unified we are in our solitude.