Old Goat at the Podium
I will never present a prepared speech.
Should the opportunity ever present itself, I could not in good conscience immediately rush to a pad of paper to start weeks of planning and a proper outline. Memorized or read from a worn and curled deck of 3x5 index cards, my inteded sentiment, whether melancholy, uplifting, somber, nostalgic, or zany, would lack every iota of my spirit. I’ve been called many things: old soul, arrogant, intelligent, asshole, creative; each moniker I’m given seeks to define a sliver of my personality, while none are even remotely accurate. I am the universe, and more. But more importantly: I am oblivion, and far less.
I sit here with a dirty old Dell smoldering in my lap, writing a nonsensical diatribe about nothing in particular, fueled by an understanding inexplicably obtuse. But I do so with the recognition that should I or anyone else desire the knowledge, there is an enveloping calm written within the subtext of our overwhelming and often difficult lives. I grew up poor, knew little kindness from strangers, and less from my peers. Now I am part of society in good terms, a member of the rat-race not insubstantial. But I will never “fit in” in any meaning of that phrase.
I am the fringe, and all that implies. So while I witness reality blurring by, it would be impossible to ignore the pattern. I don’t speak of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, mealy poetic pap about the goodness of humanity, or even of some inevitable apocalypse. We are blind. Blind to history, blind to anything which attacks our fragile understanding or preconceptions, unrepentantly ignorant to the whole of creation. Yet when we choose to ignore the incessant motivation to survive, and look upon what we have wrought, we’re all capable of asking a single question: is this as good as it gets?
Are our daily lives of constant toil, with our infrequent foreys into relaxation, followed by inevitable death the epitome of humanity? Our soaring skyscrapers and other engineering feats? Our knowledge and religion amassed over the count of millenia? Are we just a constant parade of fucking ants making our little sand castles, squabbling over natural resources, individuals both great and small lost to the ages, simply on a grander scale? No, but I feel that answer deserves some explanation.
It does not take a monk, priest or sage to reach inner harmony. The machinations of mankind are a diversion, an entrapment of our own making, which itself is the product of anachronistic instincts to hoard and dominate. My desire for a mansion, Lamborghini, and several attractive concubines bring with them the knowledge that I would always seek something more. Maybe a larger estate on a private island, a custom Ferrari designed at my behest, or genetically perfect breeding partners. But I would still always desire more. More books, more video games, more computer power, more muscles, more freedom, more friends, more peace, more prosperity. It’s an endless quest in frustration and anticipation. Who has time to live with such a constant barrage of desires personal and humanitarian unfulfilled? Just thinking about it makes my soul weary.
But in that lies the answer. We’re all capable, as difficult the decision may be, of even temporarily forgetting the constant drive to acquire and simply be. How do I know? A few years ago, I experienced Nirvana. For one day, the cares of the world fell aside, and I was in a state of euphoric bliss which was neither chemically assisted, nor like anything I’ve ever experienced before or since. I was simply incapable of anger, fear, or regret. From dawn till dusk, I was content and complete. Since then, I’ve often wondered what would become of the world if everyone could attain such acceptance and calm. But of course, they can. My experience may have been a fluke brought about by a spike of seratonin levels in my brain or some other mundane diagnosis, but I now have the key to understand life.
I’ve never really forgotten that I faced death before I had a chance to live. For those of you who know that feeling, I am both sorry, and glad you probably know what I mean. We are here for an indeterminate amount of time, a period far too short to fritter away on keeping up with the Joneses of the world. I have not the time, nor the inclination to chase some arbitrary standard of achievement fleetingly enjoyed at best. Life offers much more; it is a chance to learn of ourselves. Today is my birthday, and like those before it, celebrating it is an unexpected pleasure I intend to maximize.
If you’re reading this, let me say the internet is a wonderful bastion of expression historically unparalleled. Somewhere this will be archived, someone I don’t know will read it, or it will be lambasted as an example of unadulterated idiocy and possibly even burned in effigy. For those few who find some mote of wisdom here, feel free to share. So long as even one person understands, I am content.