The ‘Somebody’ That Is You

In Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

My first reading of this book was last year. My second reading was around the mid of this year. And my third reading was a few weeks back. From what I gather, reading a book as intense, mesmerizing, and inspiring as this one, – it isn’t fulfilling to have just read it once. The book carries such intimate confessions and it’s such a stimulating read, I fell in love with it. And not just that, it’s an experience to read about a woman’s conscious and self-awakening life. Her childhood, education, friendships, the temptation of ideals, the rejection of them.

We’re told ambition is a destination, a solid rock upon which we scratch our names forever. But it’s really not. I see it as a passage to infinity. We can drop our bags, give up, resist, doubt, analyze, and hit the road again. The journey stretches itself out in myriad directions. Only that being on one of the routes gives us no choice but to assume that there aren’t others.

There’s so much that resonates with me. Despite the fact that Simone’s life in no way stacks up against mine. But underneath the exterior, what roused in me, while reading the book, was Simone’s sharp incision into the becoming an individual person. It’s one thing to see in front of you the difference between a self and reality. It’s a whole other thing to feel it and have that drive you and make you ambitious… even emotionally and intellectually abundant. And that’s the exact presence of this book. It doesn’t have boundaries the way many books do. You feel infinite while reading it. And it sort of coincides with you realizing the scope of the ‘somebody’ that is you.

If you’ve read my reviews, you know that I never give away the plot of the book; the events that transpire as you read it. I mean, you could just as easily search for the book on Google and get that for yourself. But what I love to focus on is the experience of reading a book, the numerous nuances, the telling revelations, it sort of threads a book together. Nor do I criticize or explicitly rate any book as if I’m supposed to as someone who writes and talks about books.

Now, if you’ve never read any feminist literature or a memoir about a French philosopher, especially of such a distinguished school of thought, I highly recommend this book. It’s candid, thought-provoking, and definitely grounded. There are so many passages that I’ve highlighted. Generally, we have more takeaway in non-fiction than a fiction read. But reading this book feels so rare and rewarding that it’s hard to resist not re-reading those passages every now and then. It reveals philosophy, literature, existentialism, individualism, and such grave necessities of life, it’s hard not to think about it.

One of the things that really stood out, for me, was her admiration for other people’s intelligence. The books they read, the conversations they had, the opinions they kept, basically the fidelity to have a choice and exercise that choice. It’s not enough to have a thought in your mind. But to sharpen it as unerringly as if it’s a muscle in your body. Well, our mind is a muscle but somewhere we lose the existence of it. Its physicality as much as its abstractness. So, in a way, to see it reflected in somebody else, you do feel the pulse-quickening within you to be able to do the same. Perhaps the whole point of human interaction is this. You justify your own self as having a solitary existence. And yet there’s nothing heavier that pushes us against the many selves we inhabit.

I Was Wrong About The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

A truth that has now become an illusion.

Lots of truths aren’t exactly truths on an external scale. We can’t quantify or validate them in reality. They’re mere reflections of who we are; intimate and unique in each individual and volatile as time itself — amplifying our feelings from speck to stone.

Out of such truths, I’ve had to let go of the truth of the tunnel. You know the saying “look for the light at the end of the tunnel,” where the goal is worth the effort. The plan is worth the pain. The dreams are worth the nightmares.

The awareness of this truth and its contradiction was placed well in my mind. And out of it came the realization of why it no longer fits with my discovering self. The capacity to see the good in bad defeats the manifestation of bad into something (anything) that is certainly good.

Because I know that one’s becoming and discovering in and of life isn’t simple. Nor is it short-lived and certain. It’s the ability to look at things objectively, even more so after reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (for the second time), that I chose to dissolve this truth.

(You can read my thoughts on the book here)

It isn’t enough to expect a reaction out of an action. Not negating the fact that every movement, in reality, is an echo or a whisper through time and space. While this may be true, I have lost my expectations for a subjective reality in which only “I” exist. Hence, I choose to re-consider my defense for and against my objective reality.

Imagine a moment where you see the light at the end of the tunnel but you no longer where you were, in the tunnel. You’re everywhere — at the beginning and at the end. So what you’re seeing is not light, but only a part of you; a flicker of you.

The negative (darkness of the tunnel) holds the key to perspective. To broad-mindedness that only a bad outcome carries. And if we were to acknowledge it as “a part of the process” or as something that has a “higher cause,” we’re wrecking its ability to help us grow.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anais Nin

Pain is a negative ability externalized as being the antidote to maturity. None of us were wiser before than when we stood the storm. We fought our battles; we broke the ice. In that course, the parable is not which is the least painful to endure. It is whether something is painful, if at all.

There are many things, like this, that brings us to the beginning of pain. Things that are very likely to frighten us; that we go ahead and do anyway. Is the denial of the pain (or the endurance of it) for a higher cause — a moment of satisfaction greater than a lifetime of melancholy? I beg to differ.

My pain — which is, after all, what I feel and internalize — isn’t a validation of my joy. They’re two separate qualities (beings perhaps) co-existing inside me. And I choose to externalize them the way I want to.

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
– Seneca

Keeping an eye on how pain needs to be felt to be let go. This refined truth of anticipating the good and (not versus) the bad; and our habit of reimagining our pain as an experience meaningful in itself, without having any effect, is the way of embracing our true selves. And it’s the way I separate my imagination from my reality.

On Understanding Our Subjective And Objective Reality

In Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life. The sense of self as the most distinctive and defining aspect of human life.

Do you believe that we are always constant with a specific pattern in life? We change rhythmically but our roots cling to the same soil? The same source of life — water?

To meditate on such an existential and personal thought forms the basis of one of the most influential and philosophical essays of Arthur Schopenhauer. Today, I contemplate on The Wisdom of Life’s subject of a person’s objective and subjective reality.

The following passages, which can be found at the beginning of The Wisdom of Life, are confounding and comforting to the mind. It brings to light the fact that no changes in any circumstances can align one’s internal perception, emotions, and thoughts to another. And no change in one’s internal world can influence that of another. Assuming that we are fellow passengers on the same train.

…all of which rests upon the fact that every event, in order to be realized and appreciated, requires the co-operation of two factors, namely, a subject and an object, although these are as closely and necessarily connected as oxygen and hydrogen in water. When therefore the objective or external factor in an experience is actually the same, but the subjective or personal appreciation of it varies, the event is just as much a different one in the eyes of different persons as if the objective factors had not been alike.”

We revise our internal world to fit the scale of the external. And in doing so, or trying to, we irrevocably develop our individual and original identities. This is what makes any two persons different in their own ways.

Can you imagine two people, cooped up in the same room from childhood to maturity, being unanimously at odds with each other?

Arthur Schopenhauer has. He has, so eloquently, explained this fact in what constitutes to the ultimate distinction of human life. And this exactly what he wishes to enlighten us with. Consider the following passage:

In plain language, every man is pent up within the limits of his own consciousness, and cannot directly get beyond those limits any more than he can get beyond his own skin; so external aid is not of much use to him.”

We hope to transcend major life lessons such as pain, heartbreak, guilt, and loss. We hope to understand them, mold them, and nurture them. Not for the world that constitutes them. But in order to understand ourselves.

To solidify our nature as the only way to react to what happens outside of us. Throughout this journey, we cling to what guides us forward and we cut loose those strings that hold us back.

Is this, Schopenhauer suggests, the basis of our imagination? Or does this have an actual and objective groundwork in reality? Something that everybody can see and feel together?

The answer to this empirical question lies below:

“Since everything which exists or happens for a man exists only in his consciousness and happens for it alone, the most essential thing for a man is the constitution of this consciousness, which is in most cases far more important than the circumstances which go to form its contents.”

This concludes that self-expression makes the self the deepest layer of our reality. And what happens outside of it forms our circumstances; merely cards that in a game are meant to be dealt with.

The thing that makes life rich to one and dull to another is the realization of the identity surpassing the contents of the world. And to win against this fight we have to learn to connect our mind of today to our mind of yesterday and of tomorrow.

6 Thoughts For The Day

Every act of expression is an act worth sharing.


Rising from the ashes of courage, the mind seeks resolution. In hope, it seeks wisdom. In wisdom, it seeks patience. But what is broke is the singularity of the objective state of mind. And its many patterns and shapes. So if and when one finds conviction and embraces it. It becomes the only understanding of survival.


There’s stillness where there’s chaos. There’s noise where there’s silence. For without the duality of nature — the battle between life and death — there would be no seeking pleasure in existence. As everything would run its inevitable course. And mortality would lose all that is mortal.


We hope, as flawed human beings, to resurrect the feeling of feeling important. Or having a purpose or meaning. But what we’re unaware of is its vague yet conspicuous labyrinth. With only a thousand doors in and a solitary door out.


The mistrust of obedience doesn’t provoke me. Neither does the temptations of pleasure. It’s the way we exist in the world, depending on its unwavering expectations, that I find destructive.


People are not unkind because they’re happy. People are not happy because they are kind. Lurching within is Unforeseen Pain. Untouched yet deeply felt. This pain grows inside until its roots transform the workings of the mind. Like a tree, each movement demands to be seen and felt. And its hardy branches pierce each nerve until the leaves the grow from it are sick with thorns and stench.


You see someone getting injured. I see pain. You see someone shed a tear. I see cruel aloneness. You see someone smile. I see unshakeable strength.


 

We Don’t Belong Anywhere. But We Are Alive

Everything that is alive is a part of nature.

There’s a purpose to your sloth. It may be lack of interest, tiredness, or a brain fog. While inactivity stems from within a person’s body and mind, we can determine if it’s good or bad for us. But what about nature’s purposes? Are we here to interpret nature’s way of thinking?

It’s only understandable to think that we are. Happiness is not enough. Love is not enough. Sadness is not enough. Even though we’re creatures of habit, the scope of what’s out there in the mountains, how trees communicate, how a female penguin competes for the males during the mating season, and the size of the universe blows our minds.

Without such discovery, self-awareness is a far more difficult pursuit than knowing we’re not the only ones that are alive on this planet.

The fact is that majority of what we do stems from the assumption that we’re a part of nature’s BIG PLAN. That we contribute to nature’s purpose and we’re a natural fact for our own existence.

But where do we find conclusive proof, that is not manifested by humankind, for the same? There is none. That’s because there is no natural fact for human existence. There is no nature’s purpose for interpreting what’s good and bad for us. But there is natural fact and there is nature’s purpose. Now whether it’s meant for the good or bad for us, to a certain degree, we can assume but never completely comprehend.

Schools of thought such as philosophy, science, or psychology enrich what it’s like to be human. It gives us the ability to transcend the physical self and experience greater intuition and oneness with nature.

And nature’s way of communicating with us is through the habits and characteristics of other breathing and non-breathing creatures. Switch to an educative channel like National Geographic or Animal Planet and you’ll learn how a shrimp defends its territory and fights an octopus. Its sheer strength and daring are traits that not engineered by humans. That creature of the sea hasn’t been told what to do or how to react. Nor is it imitating an experimenter’s patterns of behavior. Such skill is congenital. It’s extravagant. It’s a natural fact. So how are we compete with that?

Most of what we learn and act on is fabricated. Our ability to tell from right to wrong is no more accurate than taking a chance. It’s a possibility we’re gambling with. Not a fact. Our intentions, desires, and beliefs are not natural as much as they’re schooled from the time of our births. If we were to pack up all our belongings and travel halfway across the world, we remain capable to survive and live a healthy and fulfilling life. The barriers for us, in a foreign country, would be language and financial stability.

Whether we’re meant to stay in one place or not — that is not for society to decide but the individual himself/herself.

A shrimp, however, is most likely to lose its survival instinct and intestinal fortitude to threaten an octopus if it enters new territory. So nature demands singularity as much as it mocks our thirst for knowledge.