Intro essay for chapter 1
The Tugs and Pulls of the Modern World
I lived under the false pretense that I would die young. I set the age of death at 21; whether consciously or unconsciously established I do not know, but I always knew that I would die before my 21st birthday. Come to find out later, all three of my brothers shared this same false pretense. Although all of us had numerous brushes with death—none of us died. And so, I can honestly say that meaning in life did not precociously bloom within my breast. Everything I did in my life before the age of 21 was done under the two simple philosophies of action, reaction, and pleasure versus pain.Life claimed no mystical or deeper meaning on me, so, I heeded no mystical or deep credo other than those mentioned. At the age of 21, I concluded it was time to develop a new philosophy on life, but it was not easy. Actions that start out as soft and sweet as honey quickly ossify into hardened habits. I found I was like a little boy lost at sea; so long tossed to and fro by the proximate waves, flotsam without direction, without paying attention to the myriad markers I had passed. As awareness awoke within me, I found I was clueless as to which direction I should now take. The shock from all of a sudden waking to the awful reality of my situation, aware of myself and the precarious straits I was in, was overpowering. I realized I was always aware of the situation, my previous philosophy had just caused me to suppress such awareness because it was an overload of feelings and such awareness was either too abstract or too daunting to think about. How could life as absurd as it was for me as a child, mean anything more than the absurdity it presented to me? Here I began battling that question, trying to develop a meaningful philosophy that would allow me to overthrow the already crystallized patterns and rituals of a meaningless life, but a shadow is harder to shake than I had imagined, and here I was, in the middle of a starless, black ocean with no light to act as a luminary guide—only equipped with the mistrusted light locked within myself. And I knew that awareness only comes once to a life and then it never leaves; going back to a previous philosophy is improbable and in most cases impossible because awareness is like a man realizing mid-flight that he has no wings, he cannot go back to the precipice he jumped off of. The only logical step for that man is to try as rapidly as possible to devise some new way to brace himself from the brunt of his fall, or unsoundly the man can continue to imagine he has wings to try to dissuade himself from truthfully imagining the brunt of his fall that is rapidly approaching. Of course, either way, the end of that fall is death, but the one who truthfully faces that fall is aware of what the quickly approaching earth means to his life and perhaps in his resourcefulness he might have contrived some way to brace himself for the fall and avoid such an abrupt end (aim for the trees). Who knows, but nine years after realizing I was in a free fall, this is what I found; this is my new philosophical guide; hopefully it passes off as something more than just a new anesthesia that serves the same purpose as my old philosophy; hopefully it is not the old philosophy parading around under the clever disguise of a new name.