I was just outside having a smoke, thinking.
I was listening to the sounds—
a washing machine washing.
But I couldn’t separate the sounds from my “knowledge” of these sounds.
I couldn’t experience these sounds as merely sounds;
they are always sounds that mean something.
The whooshing sound of a car passing me is always a car that is making that sound.
The same is true for all of my senses.
It’s L.A. and it’s 58 degrees outside.
My body is cold.
But take the idea of being cold.
That’s a meaning that is attached to a feeling in my body.
I never experience the sensations my body is actually experiencing.
There’s always a story, an experience that is attached to a concept—
I look to my left and I see a structure.
But I can’t see the structure in and of itself; it’s an office building with windows, rooms, and a roof.
I’m even making meaning—in this moment—of my attempt to make meaning!
My desire to understand, to know.
But what do I know?
The universe loves to mock my “knowing.”
Maybe the more powerful question is:
Can I experience anything, really?
I don’t know.
I sit at my desk.
Art surrounds me on my walls.
There is a peace in the middle of the night.
An occasional car passing, making its car-passing sounds.
And it leaves a vacuum of silence in its wake.
I can feel my heart beating as I close my eyes in this silence.
“I think, therefore I am,” said Descartes.
I prefer, I feel, therefore I am.
Back outside, I don’t know what that sensation is—
without using the word “cold”—but I am interested in feeling it.
To take a moment or two, to stand there and revel in the experience,
before my mind claims its next victim:
What do I know?
What do I know about life?
About my life?
And is it even mine?
Gurdjieff talks about the essential I
versus the false I.
Do we ever experience the essential I?
(Who is asking?)
To many of you, all of this is irrelevant.
Just live, you say—
stop thinking and live, Alex.
But can we really live if we’re not aware?
Can we really live if we’re just caught up in interpretations?
I’m not stoned.
I’m using my mind to explore.
Is this merely mental masturbation?
But I don’t think so.
I guess you could say that I have always been interested in origins,
What’s really going on here?
So much of what we call “life,” seems to be happening on
Are we humans—
or are we robots?
Automatons just automaton-ing through life.
yes, alive in the sense that our hearts are beating—
but not really alive.
Sure, we all have moments of feeling alive.
Even pain—especially pain—helps us to feel alive.
But we run from that aliveness.
I can create plans for my life,
all kinds of elaborate plans.
But why am I making these plans?
It’s a desire to be…
to be something.
Not alive. That’s really not a part of the plan, is it?
We’re not thinking about being alive
because we’re so far removed from it.
We go about, automatically, doing what we do—
what we did yesterday,
what we will do tomorrow.
I’ve heard it said that 90 percent of the thoughts I had today
were the same thoughts that I had yesterday,
and will be the same thoughts that I have tomorrow.
You have no idea how angry that makes me.
Because it’s true.
That sh*t haunts me.
The idea that I’m only
I f*ck around and do a hundred things to distract myself.
I distract myself so that I don’t feel how sad my life has become.
I don’t want to know what I know
in those rare moments that I do feel,
so I stuff it.
To feel is…
The universe mocks all of my plans.
After all, what do I really know?
About my life, about you, about anything?
I read an article by Clarice Lispector, in which she says:
“Coherence is mutilation.
I want disorder.”
Oh my god,
“Coherence is mutilation.
I want disorder.”
I want to scream it from the rooftops,
to awaken the neighbors—
in more ways than one.
It’s difficult to give myself permission to be
To be nonsensical.
Or, as Camus might say,
to be absurd.
Here I am,
working each day,
and there isn’t an end in sight.
The rigamarole of life.
We act as if only hamsters run on wheels.
But are our lives that different?
Don’t we run on our own version of a hamster wheel?
Work, bills, work.
Wake, feed, drive, chores, sleep, wake.
But I don’t want to be a hamster.
I want to live.
Author: Alex Obed
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina