People and a State of Being

People fascinate me. Every day I wake up in the morning, I marvel at being human. In the billions of other possible species that I could have been, I was, by luck and pure chance, thrown out of a womb that belonged to a descendant of the most cerebral species on the planet. What did I do to deserve having a human brain, the most complex system/organ in the known universe? Nothing at all. My existence is contingent. It doesn’t have to be, it isn’t necessary, and it is totally meaningless and purposeless.

But this is what makes it so amazing to be me. The fact that I don’t have to, but I do nevertheless exist, is indeed what gives my life meaning. If my existence was the decision of a higher intelligence, and if I was created and put into this world for a purpose, then my existence would be rendered less meaningful and less valuable because my life would then be the product of somebody else’s will and decision, and not the result of a meaningless accident.

To me, something that is planned is always less miraculous and exciting than something that just happened by pure chance. So miracles are in their essences, deeply paradoxical, and this is why I tend to unfold meaninglessness back upon itself until it becomes meaningful.

I would scrutinize everyday objects and events with existential joy and astonishment, for even broken condoms, car wrecks, gum wrappers, cuss words, and the kind of fallen-from-grace sort of building display brilliance and creativity unmatched by anything in the known universe. Just as the slowest and the oldest cheetahs should nevertheless deserve the praises for having great speed, the shabbiest people, spending one shabby day after another, doing their shabby work should all the same, be praised for their intelligence by a larger and wider standard. The difference between Einstein and a high school drop out is non-existence in the eyes of a monkey, dolphine, or a fish.

But on the other hand, I would feel pity towards myself and my fellow human beings when their lives are examined under a different lense. Sometimes I would watch TV in between sets during my workouts, and there would be one monitor showing ESPN, with some black guy sweating his balls out with a pole just so he could out jump his opponents by a few inches. And on the monitor next to it, there would be some seemingly insignificant flea on Animal Planet, without even asserting energy, jump over objects that are 200 times over its height. Imagine if humans have the potentials to jump that high. Even the oldest and sickest of us all would have the ability to leap over the Statue of Liberty with ease. And then I would feel obtuse, ridiculous, and hopeless for attempting to become stronger and faster, for even the most athletic human beings pale in comparison to the power and speed of many other creatures on the planet. What did I do to deserve being locked inside this weak and slow body? Nothing at all.

But then again, for most people, sense of desperation, depression, envy, jealousy and misunderstanding only comes when you compare yourself to people who are around you, and who are within your own league people like your neighbors, classmates or coworkers. We are jealous of our friends and co-workers if they are just a little bit richer than us, but lose very little sleep over how rich Steve Jobs or Michael Jordan is. I would rather live in a world where I make 10 bucks a day and everyone else makes 9 than in a world where I make 20 a day and everybody else makes 50. I see a lot of kids playing their hearts out on the basketball court at health clubs, and I used to wonder why they even bother to try, for it is obvious that people in the NBA, even the worse players, could kick their asses with minimum efforts.

And then I realized that the reason why they feel significant upon winning is because they are beating people within their own league from their own world, playing against people who are wearing the same shoe sizes as themselves. If I was beaten by Michael Jordan, I probably wouldn’t feel half as bad if I was beaten by that teammate of mine who was always competing with me for playing time even though Michael Jordan would shed a lot more blood out of me. But sometimes it helps to widen your scope, and compare yourself to members of other leagues or of other species. But such act of comparison can also be a double edged sword, as you can easily be discouraged when you are looking at the situation from the opposite direction.

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