Creatures in the making
Writing was not on my mind immediately, I always had terrible sense of grammar and correct spelling. Partly because my mind would reproduce words according to how I would remembered hearing them by the voice that narrates thoughts in my head. I have very little recollection of the time before my inner analytical voice started keeping narrative records of my thoughts, I could not tell you whether or what I was thinking before. I wasn’t, or at least I wasn’t me.
Yet, the first time I brought down words to paper was out of despair. I felt the depths of my feelings were too private to talk about, yet too precious to be ignored, so I confined them to paper. Preposterous, I know. Luckily, I never wrote a diary, and I am kind of glad that I do not have to revisit my naive predispositions about the human condition any more.
But I do remember Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, the transformation stages humans have to live through on their spiritual journey away from god, my literary antidote to lessen the burden of humanity’s shortcomings.
First, we are born as camels, the myth goes, carrying a heavy load of old ideologies and morals bestowed onto us. Yet we are wandering through the eternal desert, growing bitter being taxed by their burden. The camel is not free. To shake off our shackles, we have to transform, to reject and destroy the old. The metamorphosis to Zarathustra’s lion.
I was a lion for a long time, hungry, seeking, trying to make sense of a world in need of so much rejection.
Diplomacy was secondary to truth, attack on falsehood always justified. No matter how much I fought, I did not succeed. I would either face forceful and irrational rejection or make others feel miserable. Thus I learned about the human condition; constant self-deception as survival mechanism against the pull of the void. The fear of the meaninglessness within all our existence at the bottom of the abyss. Its hypnotic grip once one has looked down too deep.
The edge of the void had become my lair, because the lion felt safest where humans dared not going. Being able to stare down and walk back unharmed repeatedly released him of a paralyzing fear many humans experience once they inevitably encounter the void. So I started exploring.
We were not just expulsed into this nihilistic universe, we are because of it. Products of natural laws propagating down through the eons, generating complexity, generating life, generating evolution and generating us. What if it was mere chance? What if it was necessity?
Symmetry is a symptom of a universe not caring, having no preference for either direction. Yet here we stand, conscious beings generated by slight asymmetries from the one-dimensionality of time to the imbalance in matter-antimatter during the big bang, anti-entropic constellations of molecules pondering their purpose. So what if there is none?
We are the only way for the universe to reflect upon itself, this is our gift and our burden. Maybe our responsibility. Does it really surprise us when we feel the presence of the void inside? Isn’t the void where we, the universe, or in general existence came from? Or where we are inevitably headed to?
I don’t know whether, like in Zarathustra, the lion really transformed into a child, if he is gone for good or just hiding, but his fear was replaced by relentless curiosity.
Today, he and I understand the profound need for humans to contemplate their existence, and why they flock to mysticism, ideology, religion or other grand narratives because of it. Instead of condemning their weakness, I should have admired our shared humanity. Instead of fighting or hurting them, I should have offered a helping hand.
After all, true freedom from nihilistic fear cannot be attained by rejection, but by creating our own purpose in a universe born so deprived of it.
At least that’s why I write. What about you?