I used to love writing because it was cathartic – I had a lot of repressed and suppressed feelings which I couldn’t express in person. These days I have found myself wanting to write less because I don’t repress myself that much anymore, at least to the extent I am conscious of. I also think that blogging has become complicated, people used to share the mundane things they do and now it has become a personal marketing tool. Additionally, I am afraid of the power of my words: I share very personal experiences about my life truly in the spirit of sharing, I don’t want people to take my words as advice or some version of objective truth. I loved writing online because I felt free doing so, and now I don’t know how I feel about it.
I have changed so many selves throughout the years, and I love reading through an archive of my old selves to discover how much I have changed. My old writing no longer represent the beliefs I have now, but I am reluctant to take it down because I am an archivist at heart. A few months ago I read “At the Existentialist Cafe” and Becoming Beauvoir among some other biographical accounts of philosophers, and it struck me how often these philosophers changed their minds and worldviews, but the world only remembers their philosophy that was frozen in the permanent legacy of their famous books. Apparently Sartre wanted very much to correct his philosophy that he was so famous for, but he died before he could complete his work, through the alcohol and drugs didn’t help as well.
I am always in the process of becoming, so I don’t wish to have a fixed view permanently attributed to me. I don’t think the world has solved this problem yet, to deal with the dynamism of text. Maybe you would think I’m exaggerating to call it a problem, but I think the static quality of books, the time it takes to publish new information that is capable of eradicating its predecessors and seep it into the public consciousness, is causing the human consciousness to have a very serious time lag.
It has repercussions in real life. An example that frustrates me to no end is doctors dishing out information and advice that is severely outdated to patients, hence affecting their quality of life and chances of recovery. They regurgitate what they learn in school decades ago, and school itself is already behind the latest proven research. We trust slow-moving institutions too much, to our own detriment.
Of course, on the other extreme end is the barrage of live feeds. There’s so much new information that we no longer know what is real and useful anymore. We need something that can negotiate the deadness of a book and the liveness of a feed. I wonder if I’ll experience something that I’ll be truly astonished with in my lifetime.
The whole virus situation has made me deeply reflect on how one can have almost everything possible but nowhere to spend them if the world becomes unsafe enough that the mobility we take so much for granted is taken away. I am hesitant to visit loved ones in the event I am an asymptomatic carrier. I read in the national news that after a patient was finally discharged from the ICU, all she wanted was to return to her ordinary life: cooking for her family, exercising with her friends, buying groceries.
An ordinary life, something so many of us fervently try to avoid in pursuit of the extraordinary. But for me it is the ordinary that gives me the most joy. All I want is some time to ride my bike, eat some good food, read some thought-provoking books and spend quality time with my loved ones. If I had to be Sisyphus I would be contented having a repetition of a day that allowed me to do all the above. This would sound super weird to my younger self, and she would probably look very down on me, just as much as I would laugh at her foolishness.
Contentment it turns out, is truly feeling the awareness of how precious the ordinary is. Yet it is not easy to filter all the noise that exists, process all that trauma, uncondition ourselves from all that unhealthy mainstream thinking, and settle into an ordinary life of our own choosing. As I have once written before, there is nothing simple about being simple.
This morning I read a really sad story on Reddit. A man lost his wife to cancer only 108 days after she first experienced health problems. They were both just 25. How much he would give just to experience the ordinary again with his wife.
Extraordinary stories are still inspiring. Sometimes I think my way of life must be really weird to the mainstream society, then I come across examples of people who truly put me in my place, such as this woman who cycled around the world alone for almost 10 years now, relying mostly on donations. It is not uncommon for people to take long cycling trips, but 10 years!!
I don’t think there is anything wrong with the pursuit of the extraordinary, but be sure to pursue the definition of extraordinary in your very own terms, not a peer-pressured, society-defined one.