It’s amazing what the voices in your head can tell you. Just this week, they have been nagging me like that not-so-favourite aunt who pesters you to get married and sets you up on blind dates. Sure, I’ve been ignoring them – the voices – like everything else in my life, but I thought the whole experience was interesting in its own right.
Reading those posts now is like reading the words of a complete stranger. Not one bit of what was written resonates strongly with me now, and I can see now just how out of touch I was, just how hard I was trying to seem ‘enlightened’ and ‘wise’ and into philosophy. This makes it yet another instance where my own actions have come back to bite me in the ass.
It is often said that nihilism and Nietzsche are spouted by wannabe, edgy, and angsty teens and who really do not grasp what nihilism is. Rightfully so, since what I wrote seems to scream “I am so wise and deep and think about the world and life and the human condition a lot” like nothing else. Frankly it’s a miracle I didn’t end up on r/IAmVerySmart.
The lack of meaning in life and existence, which is obvious to anyone who has had one too many drinks and sat down to seriously think about life, was the only point of nihilism that I really knew. And it misses the point of that whole school of thought. I still have no clue what ‘nihilism’ is, but I do know that it isn’t what I thought it was.
There was a time in mid-2017 when I was so enamored by this concept of ‘philosophy’ and how it affects our lives that I devoted an unhealthy amount of time to it. I burned through Crash Course’s Philosophy playlist in a single sitting, watched dozens of TED-Ed videos, had WiseCrack on repeat, and binged on Philosophize This! like it was my job.
The unhealthy obsession would have been enough in and of itself, but I went a step further and started writing about it. This is where things went haywire. I created a multi-part series where I would explore the different perspectives on death by different schools of philosophy. I published two pieces and had two more set for publishing before I decided it was better not to.
At this moment, I know for a fact that even if you read every work by every philosopher and read up on every school of philosophy, you will still not know how to live life. My anxiety about my eventual death and decay hasn’t vanished since I wrote about what Socrates and Epicurus had to say about it. Binging on half a dozen YouTube playlists hasn’t resulted in anything tangible from me. And it probably never will, which I’m okay with.
At its heart, I think, it all boils down to being seen as ‘informed’ about this topic that is reserved for ‘intellectuals’. A wish to be seen as ‘different’ from everyone else, because while everyone was chasing money and material gains, I was thinking hard about the really tough questions and the answers that have eluded us. A wish to be seen as a deep, wise man.
What I mean to say is, if you spend your whole life trying to learn how to live, you’ll never live your life. You’ll just have spent it listening to what dead philosophers thought about it. And let’s get honest for a second, most of what these philosophers thought and taught doesn’t work in real life or in today’s world.
So while it is not possible to live without at least some sort of personal philosophy, it is possible to live without binging on philosophy videos. And that’s a change I’m happy to have made.
I love it when even the smallest details are given the attention they truly deserve. So it often hurts me that the barber’s cape at the salon I frequented didn’t have mirrored lettering on it. When I sat on the chair – the barber clipping away my dry, lifeless hair – the letters on the reflection of the cape were all reversed. This has been a pet peeve of mine for quite some time now.
I’ve often wondered if I should consider being a patron of a different salon, one that has the perfect cape for me to wear. To be honest, though, it would be petty of me to change salons simply because their cape the lettering on their cape wasn’t up to my liking. The real reason I had considered moving was that every time I went there, there would be a new barber, ready to cut my hair. It was exhausting having to explain my preferences to a barber I’d never see again. Regardless, my trip to the salon on Wednesday was… special to say the least.
I am pretty relaxed during haircuts but there is a period of time when anxiety sets in. Anytime the barber is close to my temple – to adjust my sideburns – or by the sides of the head, I start paying close attention to what he does. I get nervous and extremely alert. I’m guessing it might be because of remnants of unresolved childhood trauma.
I was in sixth grade, Literature class. The lesson we were being taught had an absent-minded barber as one of the characters. My teacher, in trying to explain what ‘absent-minded’ meant, recounted how a barber had once sneezed while cutting his hair. He was clumsy and did not move the scissors in his hand away when he sneezed. The scissors dug into the skin of my teacher, right beside his right eyebrow. He even showed us the scar that had formed over the gash.
In hindsight though, he could have used a better example and avoided traumatising impressionable 11-year old kids for life. Ever since that class I’ve been very aware of the barber when he cuts close to my ears and face – ready to duck in any direction as soon as I sense something wrong.
Despite this ‘trauma’, I was seated quite comfortably for someone who kept thinking about hairdressers inadvertently attacking him. “This would make a great blog post,” I thought. And that’s when it hit me. Salons make for perfect places to unwind and let my thoughts flow as they like. After all, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about how great it is to let your mind wander at a salon, which means I should make this a regular feature. I used to think there was something special about being in that chair that helped me zone out, but it turns out, this is what I always do! The salon was making it easier for me.
I’m prone to such experiences all the time, but usually, there isn’t a situation where I can let my senses dull and not have something go wrong. Getting a haircut, on the contrary, I can sit and relax on the chair, enjoy the cool air blasting from the air conditioner (which hopefully won’t kill me) and the ambient music, while the barber does all the work for me. Of course, this is excluding those moments of pure agony when the panic sets in. But it’s great because I can lower my guard and not have anything stolen from me. Public transportation is quite similar – I can zone out, someone else is driving for me and I can sit back and relax – but there is always too much action going on outside for me to zone out.
And that, I think, is why I usually have these ‘shower thoughts’ in the salon, before I have a shower. #salonthoughts anyone? Didn’t think so. Now that I’ve written this down, it seems patently absurd to me, that I’m a grown adult who is still traumatised by what someone said 12 years ago, and then thinks about it and then writes about it online, then goes on to analyse why he only has such thoughts in the salon. I should probably stop now.
As the remains of what I ate lurched around in my stomach, I couldn’t help but wonder. Maybe this is how I finally die; cold, alone and with brutal irony.
So this happened, kind of. Travelling the world with no defining goal in mind is great. Travelling the world with a singular, all-encompassing objective isn’t better by any stretch, for sure. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
October saw me making two separate 400+ kilometre trips, in the span of two weeks. Over the course of these trips, I saw both extremes, interspersed with moments of glaring stupidity— entirely by me— as well as resourceful planning and moments of awe-inspiring ingenuity, mostly by my companions. For obvious reasons, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
You know, that style worked much better in Hot Fuzz. Like thousands of other fresh graduates, I’m currently in the market, job-hunting. Sure, the fact that the national economy is in a downturn and 1.5 million jobs have been lost held no weight in my head at the time. It’s been a little over a month since I graduated. In that time period, though I have done nothing more than sit on my ass and eat all day, every day, I don’t want the world to think I’m lazy. Wait a minute!
A solitary writer in a darkened room, staring hard at the empty sheet of paper in front of him, wishing his thoughts would fill the sheet already. Over him, death looms large, eagerly counting down the seconds, waiting to strike him dead.
What’s that I hear you asking? No motivation to write?
Not exactly. It’s just that when I do write, I have both the motivation and the inspiration to write. Right now, I’m incredibly motivated to write. Given a topic, I could probably tackle 500 words without a break. But as (bad) luck would have it, I’m all out of topics right now. I guess I could use the daily prompts, but the thing is, single word prompts aren’t exactly my style. I could never have imagined that my own words would come back to bite me in the ass.
There’s something about fanboys that really intrigues and irritates people. Maybe it’s the fact that you don’t really ‘get’ them. It’s similar to how grownups (and yours truly) cannot understand Snapchat. Being part of a fanboy clique is exciting and it feels great to have a community to talk about it with, looking at you /r/starwars and /r/kingfallsam. But it’s only when you distance yourself a bit, zoom out and look at things from the outside, that you realize how annoying fanboys can be.