Every blog has a start and this is what mine is going to look like.
Disclaimer: it’s got some thoughts in it, sorry.
The reason why I’ve opened with this rather compelling image* is because for purely selfish and aesthetic justifications, I like it, but also it has a strange connection with what I’m going to say today.
If anyone has read Jostein Gaarder’s philosophical work, ‘Sophie’s World’, they’ll know it opens with her receiving a letter with only three words and no explanation for their intrusion in her life. These three words are simply, who are you?
Sophie starts to think about herself in relation to the world, which I have always found an endlessly odd thing, yet compelling nonetheless. Within the opening pages of Gaardner’s novel, he says some interesting things. “Sophie started to think about being alive, she began to realize that she would not be alive forever. I am in the world now, she thought, but one day I shall be gone… As soon as she concentrated on being alive now, the thought of dying also came into her mind… It was like two sides of a coin… The bigger and clearer one side of the coin became, the bigger and clearer the other side became too… You can’t experience being alive without realizing that you have to die, she thought. But it’s just as impossible to realize you have to die without thinking how incredibly amazing it is to be alive.”
I might agree with what you’re probably thinking – bit heavy. I agree, more so because we very rarely write a structured narrative to these kind of thoughts of life and death, but then again, if you were receiving strange letters from some unknown person, maybe you would talk a little differently (more so to the authorities than yourself or Mrs. Philosophy though – just saying.)
Nonetheless, doesn’t she make an intriguing point?
Maybe we don’t embrace death because we don’t embrace life enough. I haven’t worked out how that looks, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in reading more books or writing more plays, though they sometimes point me in the right direction. I’m realising that there’s such a bigger world out there than I give it credit for. I don’t know all the answers, if any at all, but I am alive. And I’m not going to live forever, not like this or not here anyway. I don’t really know who I am, or even what I’m not, but I am alive. The reason why I like the picture, above, is because I know it’s me for sure, I’m wholly and utterly convinced, it looks like me, I remember it and I still have the same clothes I was wearing. But it’s not quite me, it’s been part of an art project which means its been changed and manipulated in clever ways. And the thing is, I like it. It is me yet it’s not quite.
My point is, we’re all alive, but is that all that qualifies us to really live our lives. So many of us are dead in our own jobs, dead in our own ideas, dead in our own thinking, dead in our our own relationships, dead in our our own dreams. I don’t think we have to be though. We’re still alive which means we’re not dead just yet. We’re still breathing. Some days might feel like we’re only just keeping our head above water. But you’re still alive, which we shouldn’t forget is something in itself. I think I’m ready to start living, to start embracing, to start creating, to start dreaming. I’m not dead yet.
You know, we’re such complex beings and I dont think we celebrate it enough. The capabilities of our body and our brain are phenomenal. The things we can think about, talk about and even create is incredible. I don’t want to take that lightly. I don’t want to keep writing things here if I’m not living it out either. I like to write and although that means a lot of different things, the playwright Eugene Ionesco, puts it in better words for what that means to me, “I am writing, writing, writing. All my life I have been writing; I have never been able to do anything else… To whom can all this be of interest? …it cannot have significance for anyone. No one knows me. I am nobody… And yet I am like all the others. Anyone can recognise himself in me.” Since I can remember, I’ve had an urge to write, creatively or just effectively, anything and everything, that’s just the way my own brain has been designed I guess, I know you don’t all feel that way. But I don’t want to just write if I can’t live either. I don’t even mean my writing has to say anything didactic or mean anything, but it needs to have been birthed from an existence, an embrace, an experience of this absurd and but beautifully inviting world. Some guy who I don’t even know anything about wrote in his journal in 19 August 1851, “how vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Now those same words are scribbled on my own writing journal. I’m learning what he means.
Someone told me about a survey the other day. It was conducted with a number of elderly people who are realistically closer to the end of this life than its beginning. They were asked what they regretted now in life. Interestingly, the clear top three answers were, firstly, that they did not reflect more, secondly, that they did not take enough risks and thirdly, that they did not invest into more things that would last beyond their lifetime. Nothing about fall outs, pulling sick days, missing football games, never reading the works of Shakespeare. Nope, just real honest answers, all about exploring more about their crazy relation with this world.
I know I’m guilty of being a fan of philosophical question but you don’t have to be to read this, I hope. I’m also a keen reader of all sorts of writing so these will naturally intrude on my thinking. I don’t know what you’re expecting from this blog but I know I just want to write some of these ideas down in one place. Some times it’ll be tricky and other times more light-hearted, but either way, they’re likely to be shorter than this one! There’s such a big world out there, and an even bigger universe. Whatsmore is that you and I have the honour to be a part of it. Isn’t that worth thinking about? Talking about? Doing something about? I think so. Follow me and come along for the ride…
More reflection, More risks, More world legacy investments. Whatever you’re into. Writing or not.
*The photo is courtesy of Sophie Cunningham’s photography artwork last year. As her fellow flat mate, and coincidently, myself being the only drama student or more specifically, the only some-what naively willing flat mate with time on my hands, I quickly became a subject for her art work on numerous occasions. It was fun though, thanks Soph!