Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday at 15:50

I am leading the best of all possible lives that I can imagine. And I say this first and foremost because my imagination cannot comprehend the other possibilities.

But nonetheless, my windows have curtains, my walls remind me of old times and my floors are carpeted. My living is easy and my loved ones are close.

In the end I don't think I needed God because I was afraid. I need him because I don't know who else to be grateful to.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Picture This

Eight rats are kept in a cage for 2 days with no food. On the third day of their imprisonment, the cage is placed on a table next to full plates of corn, bread, salami, chicken and whatever else rats eat. On the fourth day, the 8 rats are placed in a maze, from the exits of which food emanates a delicious scent. The rats race each other in the beginning. Later they choose different paths, in small groups or alone. They bounce back into each other as one discovers a dead end and another continues down a successful path. As they approach the exit, paths become narrower and tighter. The rats show little compassion for one another. They push and bite each other’s tails, dying to get there faster. A few have found the exit and the food. They feast and eat as much as their brain can conceive of as enough. And 5 minutes later it’s over. No more hunger, no more craving, no more wanting. No need for anything and no sense of purpose other than the realization of normalcy. The rat race ends.

A little purposeless you might think? We, humans, surely have better things to worry about. Food is a non-issue in Holland, is it not? That may be, but ambition and status are not and it’s fairly acceptable to assume they never will be. They’re urges, which emerge as genetically as we are social animals at the end of the day. Yes, the desire for more and better than the other guy’s are strong. They’re as basic as food in as far as their primary source is concerned. You’re born and then you want it.

Look, I’m not asking for a lot. I’m not asking for you to care about the endangered dolphin species, the Kibera slum kids in Nairobi and the diminishing source of petroleum. You can if you want to, but humanitarian thoughts are destined for the few. No one’s expecting you to be an individual worthy of a categorical imperative-type thought. Seriously, follow the rules you’re given if that is all that you can see. If they’ve been given to you, it’s clear that someone lived long enough by them so as to ensure survival.

But what I am asking is that you not be an asshole. However normal, natural and expected it may be to want to climb higher up a hierarchy, don’t make a zero-sum game out of a constructive process. Cheating on work, blaming others, lying for your image – when there is nothing at stake but a grade! What will you do when you’re handling millions, jobs and a reputation? It’s strange to think of your life as a rat race.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Places - Same Stubborn Principles

What is it about new places and new people that makes you want to hold your laptop in your lap, in the dark, in September, with the windows wide open? And listen to Oasis while praying that you can shed a tear or two. And that's exactly how much comes out.

Because if it came out you could stop it. If the tears came rushing out, you'd know it'd be like a storm after a dry dry season. Necessary. But when they don't, you can do no more than hold them on the tips of your eyes, right on the surface. They're just sitting there, eager to tease you. Then again, maybe you're teasing yourself.

It's a funny thing about new places. You finally get to see your reflection in others, new people who do not know your image. These are people who truly see only your surface and they judge. What's even worse, you judge. And you come to a strange conclusion - that against all reason and any form of instinctual survival, you might love ideas more than you love your own life.

Now this doesn't need to come as a surprise. A serious existentialist crisis, followed by a prompt and ferm health scare, does kind of induce that notion. But what really does it is when you realize that playing cards at 22 is no different than playing cards at 6. I still didn't care about winning or losing, but I was there to make sure the rules were respected. It's the principle that counts for me, you know? It does now and it did even before I knew what the word meant.

I don't know where this fetish for ideas comes from. Maybe it's subtly suggested to us earlier that since we can't trust people, we certainly can't trust the predictability of their behaviors and in this sea of uncertaintly, we must make decisions anyway. So we believe. In what? In pretty random notions to be honest.