At some point during the last couple of weeks I made a realization that changed my life. It was when I reached enlightenment; my ‘Nirvana’ moment. Although I brushed it off as merely another ‘fact’ about my life the more time I spent thinking about it, the more I realized that it completely changes everything I know about myself.
So this great revelation was the fact that I am a character in a story.
Now at base value, this is not as complicated a situation as you might think it is - and yes, I addressed ‘YOU’, whoever is reading this - because everyone is a character of many people's stories, including their own. I mean how many times have we all acted a part, or been our ‘true’ self in front of someone, or pretended to be someone we are not, or pretended to be someone that we are. To quote Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” Right?
But I think my problem runs a bit deeper than that.
If I am merely a character in a story, everything about me is in someone’s head. I mean sure, I may have been based on some ‘real’ person or I may resemble several people in his ‘story’, but who I really am is just a figment of his imagination. Everything I know, everything I see, everyone I meet, everything I eat or drink, or every thought that crosses my mind are controlled by this ‘creator’.
So this whole revelation itself is his own plan.
Now this begs a few questions on my part. I do not understand why he wanted me to know this fact or why he made me think he is indeed a ‘he’ and not a she. Like why did he make me biased towards a male. He could easily have been a she and I would have said he/she everytime I referred to him. But no, he made me say he every single time.
That is precisely what I do not think I can understand. Why does he let me realize particular things about myself and not tell everything. Why is he playing these games with me. I could easily have been a happy Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, but I am here barely knowing anything about myself except the fact that I am just a character in a story; his story.
I guess my existential crisis IS his story.
And that makes me question my ‘realness’. If we were to go the Descartes route and say ‘I think, therefore I am’, I am real for sure. But having some sort of a consciousness can’t be enough to determine whether I am real or not right? Like for example, my conscience is completely based on his thoughts when he wrote the story. I can’t really comprehend a world before or after that moment. Like this conversation I am having with you is not a conversation but an internal monologue on my part because I can’t get any feedback from you. Is a one sided conversation still a conversation?
Does the fact that you are reading this story make me real? If that is the case, am I only real because of your perception of who I am. If that is the case if nobody ever reads this, am I still real? If the guy who writes the story never wrote it? A classic case of what if a tree falls in the woods.
But then again, if I question my existence, if I have the ability to question my existence, why should I not be real. Isn’t it this knowledge that we are thinking minds that make us who we are? We are who we are because we are. Right?
You and I both live in an absurd world. Maybe two different ones, but they are both absurd.
What meaning do we have other than what we give them? Everything that happens, just happens. In my case it all originated in some guy’s head and he kept writing it and I have to deal with whatever he decides to write and in your case, you have to deal with whatever is happening as a result of every single decision every single one of your ancestors took; whether you trace that back to Lucy’s australopithecus afarensis family or Adam and Eve.
But what makes him more real than me is the biggest issue that is bothering me.
If all my world is just his thoughts and everything about me is in his head, how is he - or you for that matter - not in someone else's story. Someone else’s dream. Or your own. How do you know anything you know about anything you think you know? What gives you the assurance that what you are experiencing is reality?
How do you know all your thoughts are your own?
My despair stems from the fact that my whole existence is stuck between the beginning of this story and the end. I didn’t exist before and I don’t exist after. But maybe I will. Maybe you will think of me and maybe who I am in your head will be as real as I am in mine. Maybe you will think thoughts for me. Maybe there will be multiple ‘you’s and there will be multiple existences for me after.
Or maybe there will be none.
Regardless I’d like to believe it when Sartre said “Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.” I am not sure if ‘the creator’ is getting any point across from his story, but I have a life to look forward to. I have a life full of free will. Or at least the illusion of it. Either of which I don’t mind taking.
Everything about my life carries this inherent nothingness. This absence of a right or a wrong. This absence of a greater good. Everything I know is either a social construct or something that just came up in 'his’ mind. I guess it creates one more thing that we have in common. We are just passive followers. I follow him and you follow what society decides for you.
Maybe this despair I am going through is my creator’s. Or maybe he doesn’t give a fuck.
I mean at the end of the day, I guess all I can do is quote Sartre again.
“Life is a useless passion.”
PS: I guess this is the hollywood style happy ending:
“Believe me there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory....everything is forgotten, even a great love. That's what's sad about life, and also what's wonderful about it. There is only a way of looking at things, a way that comes to you every once in a while. That's why it's good to have had love in your life after all, to have had an unhappy passion- it gives you an alibi for the vague despairs we all suffer from.”