The Human Conundrum
The Human Conundrum
“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch tee-vee.”
Human beings, one variation of the innumerable lifeforms inhabiting the planet they call Earth, are a very interesting bunch. At some arbitrary point a very, very long time ago, one of these primates (although they hate being called that) realized it existed, and that it was, indeed, a living thing. Eventually, it found more living things that looked like it, and together, they eventually figured out that living with each other as a group, while it may get annoying at times, is easier than living alone. From this realization came societies, large groups of humans that combine their efforts to achieve anything they want while making sure to record everything they achieve along the way (metaphysically as memories or physically by writing). The modern human society has proven itself capable of mastering the land, sea, air, and the very molecules and atoms that make up the land, sea, and air, and they’ve keept very detailed physical records about everything they possibly can. The thing is though, the real kicker about these creatures is they don’t actually know what they are or where they came from.
From the moment a human finds itself conscious, it is immediately perceiving, thinking, doing, and somehow recording the things it does until its body and mind collectively get tired and it goes to sleep. When it sleeps it undergoes a strange phenomenon called dreaming in which it perceives various surrealities, or realities that are different in some way from the reality they perceive under normal, waking consciousness. Eventually, and almost always suddenly, the human wakes up from its dream to find itself back in the familiar reality, the only remnants of this lost surreality being the recordings the dreamer may or may not have made. From the point of the recording on, the meaning of the recordings is up to the interpretation of the human who made them; this means, as the interpretation of the recording changes, so too does the meaning – until the original recorder dies, that is; then, the meanings of its recordings are left up to other humans who eventually find said recordings, if the original human bothered to make physical records at all.
For some of the humans, the practice of meditation – sitting still and focusing on one’s awareness – produces similar yet different results to sleeping. In all literality, a human can sit or lay down and remain still for an extended period of time, focusing only on its awareness, and surreality will engulf its very existence. The surreality can manifest itself in various ways, from trippy visuals of random repeating geometric patterns and fractals to clear, pristine images of physical objects, from entire moments in time to more physical surrealities such as feeling causeless pressure in the temples, or a pinpoint pressure beneath the forehead right between the eyebrows. The human may even begin to feel as if it is floating, as if its spirit has left its body, or even as if it does not exist at all. Or, the human may just feel a simple sense of calm throughout its body. Then it opens its eyes and reality sets back in.
The human being can also perceive similar surrealities through the consumption/metabolization of various yet specific plants, fungi and/or pure refined substances. These substances, called Psychedelics, allow the human being to perceive perhaps more intense variations of surreality that I like to call Psychedelia, but that is an entirely different conversation.
We Are, We Think, We Act
To do a quick recap, the humans are an intelligent ape-like species with the ability to perceive and alter their environment to suit their various needs. One of these needs is the need to connect and build with other humans, which in turn makes them capable of accomplishing even more than they previously believed themselves capable of. They also have the ability to perceive various surreal, altered forms of reality when they sit still and close their eyes for extended periods of time, and when they consume very specific parts of their environment. Additionally, these surreal realities they experience always end at some point, leaving the human to find itself back in a more familiar and stable reality.
Lastly, as humans, we have not only the abilities to perceive all of these things about ourselves, to think about these tendencies, to attempt to find meaning in them, and to draw conclusions about the reality around us, but we also feel a primal urge to do so. These conclusions we draw even sporadically prove to be correct, whether the methods used to reach them are entirely logical or not; Isaac Newton (allegedly) figured out gravity when he perceived an apple falling on his head; Francis Cricks figured out DNA’s double-helix structure whilst perceiving Psychedelia through Lysergic Acid Diethylamide; René Descartes figured out the scientific method after it came to him in a dream; the list could go on.
To more concisely summarize, human beings exist in a perpetual state of mystery. We’re constantly trying to figure out the meaning of not only everything around us, but also the meaning of what (we assume) goes on in our heads so we can dictate it to everybody else and make them believe what we believe. However, as soon as somebody comes to a solid conclusion, somebody else is already working on a different one, creating an endless chain of conclusions that will all eventually be perceived as false beliefs.
I’d like to pose a simple question: what if this is the point? Our numerable abilities of perception, our thinking, and our attempting to solve each new unsolvable mystery are, generally speaking, the three major pieces of our existence. What if the point of human existence is first to be, second to form a group with a belief system that everyone can more or less get on board with, and third to build a society around that belief system until a new belief system is conjured by someone else?
It makes sense, does it not? All we do is perceive, wonder, build, question what we’ve built, and tear it all down, only to wonder and rebuild until we tear it all down again. Humanity, like everything else in the Universe, appears to operate in a cycle, and a seemingly endless one at that. To paraphrase Occam’s razor, the simplest answer is usually the correct one; following that logic, I believe I can break down the essence of human existence into one single sentence: We perceive, we think about our perceptions, and we act on our thoughts.
A shorter version: we are, we think, we act.
Then, we become our actions until we get self-aware about them, leading us to change ourselves over and over and over again until there are no humans left to be. Then the aliens come down, drop off a few more, and the experiment goes on.
I’m kidding, of course; there’s no indisputable proof for that last sentence… yet. Anyway, there is another crucial aspect of human existence that I have chosen not to mention until right now: the tendency towards law. Laws, rules, commandments, axioms; whatever symbol you choose to denote them, they appear in every human society that’s ever existed. We have the tendency to set arbitrary guidelines based on whatever sounds good at the moment to live our lives by. Not only this, but we also show the tendency to enforce these guidelines on everyone around us because we think it will help to form a stable, sustainable society.
So, if the purpose of human life is simply to be, to think, and to act, what law could possibly sustain such a vague and open-ended existence?
The law of love.
What Is Love?
When I say, “what is love?”
you may think, ‘Baby, don’t hurt me.’
Haddaway, to finish the saying,
add the word purposely.
To grow familiar over time, refusing to taste defeat,
only to see your precious sweet turn sour as a lime.
It’s like the Universe putting humans on the Earth,
just to see them all pull oil out of the fucking dirt.
In order to know love, you must first feel it;
in order to feel love, you must first show it;
in order to show love, you must first know it.
Where does not matter, you simply have to start.
A kingdom of clouds afloat on azure seas
cascading shadows upon the ground,
hallowed and picturesque as if melded
by brushstrokes of men haunted by holy ghosts.
Climbing from burial grounds,
hurried by resounding wails of self-pity and sorrow,
he follows the trail.
How far must one ascend to find shelter,
a momentary end to the sweltering air and
bleak grind, oblique in its design?
Not even the angels know,
swept up in dust clouds of charity and good grace,
running a race not their own.
He holds his pace.
The trees clear as he nears the top.
Below him the ants march in lines carved
through this sublime rock, and above?
They fly with wings meant for a dove.
A breeze, a cool reprieve.
As the wind whisks through the canopy,
it whispers to the leaves:
“Was he turned a fool up on the hill,
or upon returning to the trees?”
I’m woken by the call.
The window’s open.
Hot summer air mixes with the conditioned air
floating in from the hall;
the perfect storm of the fall.
My cat crawls up on my bed,
nudging his head against mine;
it’s breakfast time.
I follow him downstairs,
out of the lair yet the calling still blares,
the singing of the trees, screaming,
like the ringing in my ears.
We left the caves long ago,
trudged through snow like the ox,
left the woods alone in pursuit of a box;
these days, the caves are made of wood,
not carved into stone.
Yet the trees still call me, and my cat too.
Fat with food he rushes out the door;
budding with life he dives into the brush;
I follow close behind.
The leaves are speaking to me, taunting,
haunting my mind with visions of being high
atop a mountain,
a fountain of youth begging to be found.
The call ceases as I climb back down.
Happiness; what an unachievable goal.
Like catching a crappie in the Gulf of Mexico,
or leaping from a plane, no parachute in tow.
You won’t glide like a leaf,
you’ll plummet down below.
To always feel happy would be quite magical.
Unexperiencing sadness; no more anger of a bull.
Floating in an ocean, no riptide to give pull.
Just salt to dry your skin;
it would quickly get old.
A poor man sits on a filthy city street
as a shitty rich man grips some grub to eat.
‘Breaking this in half would be quite the feat,’
as he looks down on the elf
missing bells from its feet.
Instead he walks by,
stuffing his face as they both blame their sadness
on the fucking rat race.
I live in a different world than most,
drink from a deeper pool;
climb up higher hills on my hands
and come off like more of a fool.
I find that things encountered in life
are rarely as they seem,
and I scream at sleeping humans just to
wake them in a dream.
I spend most of my time alone,
harboring a deep-seated pain
as I easily tread in the waters
that so often drown the sane.
I see the other humans infatuated
over physical gains,
through my window I peek in at them
from the ethereal plane.
But who am I,
what is this formless force,
What is the ghost in this human shell,
claiming to understand life?
He insists he writes some poetry,
but all he does is rhyme words in a predetermined pattern,
splatters symbols on the screen.
The very screen that enslaves him,
the glass that gives him life;
the circuit board wrapped up in metal
keeps the leash pulled tight.
It wheels and deals this poor sap,
telling him and the others how to feel,
all the while making sure reality
never becomes too real.
Even now I can’t put it down,
I’m captured by the light.
I guess I thought, I never imagined…
the screen could shine so bright.
What if reality truly
isn’t what it seems?
What if human life is more
than staring at a screen?
What if humans are just monkeys,
except instead of flinging shit
we fling our negativity?
What if we lived for spirit,
in harmony with the Earth,
instead of poisoning our rock
and loading up the hearse?
What if the only simulation
is our global society?
What if we’ve been lied to
by old white men sippin’ tea?
What if we lived the Island life,
let true freedom unfurl,
instead of stacking paper
to sustain their Brave New World?
As they climb the hill to the start, the fog settles in.
It drifts from the sky as it does the tea,
poured steaming from the kettle.
Jitters, shakes, anxious minds bearing the cold in stride
for one reason:
crossing the finish line.
Do they have what it takes?
The pavement rumbles as the siren blares
and the rabbits run scared to the front.
One by one they’re picked off,
pedals by one loved not.
Feet beat the pavement for the love of…
One mile, two mile, nickel and dime.
The time ticks on as the sunny clock shines
through the shroud.
With each step they come closer yet,
sprinting deeper into the cloud.
Though the finish line is crossed,
a new day is abound.
Everybody does what they think
will get ‘em ahead in life.
I’m over here tryna tote some guns
and maybe shoot some knifes.
That line was sampled by a rapper
who listens to other rappers;
he eats loose leaf papers
and sips on animal crackers.
I once knew a man who claimed
sampling other songs was copying;
all I know of him now is taking drugs
and maybe, occasionally dropping in.
I think to get ahead in life,
all one must do
try to avoid
feeding your soul
to the machine.
These ruins lie dilapidated, catastrophized and barren.
A cavern opens beneath the leaves,
the sinkhole engulfing all but the breathing
as the sands of time turn to mud and funnel in.
A single sapling sprouts from the crevice.
The buds branch out from a blossoming tree of life
to reach through eternity
and read the writings scrawled upon the wall.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The fall of man is graced by the rise of something more,
or is it less?
Have they failed the test? It matters not;
what remains is all that is left.
When I scrawl these symbols down
in rows and make ‘em rhyme,
do you read all of my words,
or blink between the lines?
The bat of an eyelash, twist of the lips,
standing there still with hands on your hips.
What’s cruising by on your highway of a mind?
The cops can’t catch up,
you simply don’t have the time.
But time is an illusion,
meant for nothing more than distraction and confusion,
revolving like a door
or the cylinder of a gun, the clerk working the store
can either lose his life,
or live a day more.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
But what happens after all the sweet’n’sour’s drank?
The ringing in my ears is loud,
but I can barely hear it.
Life feels dull as Novocain,
I’m truly at one with spirit;
detached from it, this physical game,
only as real as it isn’t.
I float inside my cloud of doubt,
wondering why I lack vision.
Like the wise men love to say,
time itself is infinite.
Live a while, fade to black,
and be reborn an infant.
Nothing’s real, nothing’s fake,
nothing stays, and nothing changes;
you’d think that’d take the pressure off,
yet I’m firmly stuck at anxious.
A latent hatred for my surroundings
constantly engulfs me;
the who, the what, the when, the why,
I feel like it all insults me.
I’m a ghost that only seems to exist
when someone else is salty,
or when they need some hard work done,
you better believe they call me.
The one thing that I’m praised for
is being a hard worker,
for behaving like a slave
and quietly following orders.
It makes me feel cold enough
that I think a grave could be warmer,
but I’ve died before, I want to survive
and live a life of splendor.
But I don’t live, I just exist,
waiting for a task;
maybe I’ll do some heavy lifting
and further ruin my back;
a self-destructive, self-loathing,
selfish lack of self,
who pretends there is a me somewhere,
hidden inside this shell.