Today at class we mostly talked about rocks and how it is formed.Yeah... rocks. Igneous, basaltic, sedimentary, stuffs like that. Damn! It was really boring. And then I suddenly have a lights on moment or perhaps a recollection.
Rocks are permanent.
I mean I know that they aren't. Mountains are constantly changing and in some places the crust is going back into the mantle. Rocks obviously isn't unending but on the scale of a human life, it is.
People recognized that fact - rocks are permanent - for thousands of years they remained unchanged. From pyramid to the ancient surviving statue that we've made. I mean that is what we think when we say "a diamond is forever". We erect our monuments out of rock because we believe they will outlast us and almost always every other things that we can think of.
Modern buildings made of metal and glass are just rocks purified by our genuis. Rocks are both useful and symbolic. We seek to be "in rocks". We carve our heroes in stone because we want them to last forever and there's a way in which we want that kind of immortality for ourselves too. I think that is one of the reason to the desire of scratching our names into stones, put your name in wet cement, just man-made rock, or fasten a padlock to a bridge. In this way we try to push our temporariness from our minds. The monuments, statues and bridges, they give us a sense of continuity, stability. We are always in awe that they were the same rocks that our ancestors sat, stared and pondered upon. This is how it has been in the past and this is how it will be in the future. Perhaps, that is the reason why we think of stars in the past as static, unchanging, eternal.
Our Biggest Delusion
That way of seeing the world reinforced us to maintain our biggest delusion—the comfortable belief that we are in some way eternal. We desire to believe that some part of us, our CONSCIOUSNESS or our SOUL will last forever. But what do we make of it when we see stones are not even permanent?
As the lesson continued, I started pondering not only the immortality and the eternal "life of rocks" but, quite understandably, their decay (death?), and by extension, our decay, our death, what will the world would look like without people. Barren, devoid of the usual activity that we are always so familiar with, football, chess, Space X. The thought just sends cringe everytime but the thought is unsettlingly possible.
The best imagination that I can come up for true emptiness is to visualize the universe running really fast in reverse. All the galaxies would be "in a hot dense state" compressing and getting closer together, stars expanding back into gas clouds and everything getting hotter and denser, compressing still until the whole universe could fit into a ball and then into a ballpen point, eventually shrinking further into an infinitisimally small point and then... nothing. Not the nothingness of empty space but absolute nothingness that has no size and no time. That's probably what death looks like, an emptiness/nothingness so absolute that you, yes YOU, will eventually feel it. Inexorably, you will be there, experiencing true nothingness.
But just as soon as I can form this thought, it evaporates like a water in the kettle. My thoughts rushes in to fill the void that I have simulated. Well, this makes sense because the hardware I'm having took over billions of years to evolve with the sole requirement of ,molecularly speaking, being able to makes copies of itself. It would be of no help in the slightest to the goal of making copies if the hardware could precisely simulate its own non-existence.
Death and Nihilism
When we do acknowledge our own impermanence, it is often through unmeant catch phrases like "yolo". A sense of our mortality does strike fear into us and thinking about it sometimes gives me chill that is so subtle and unintelligible. That very same kind of fate stalks us daily but not in this deeply emotional way just in a trivial ignorable way. Hence our delusion. You are eternal like stone, always were and always will be. So we have come to be innately capable for denial with a selected inability to imagine true nothingness, an ephemeral collection of particles that believe itself eternal. That delusion is comforting and it makes living easier. It might drive you crazy to be confronted with the ultimate meaninglessness of everything all the time. But the same delusion I would say is also crippling. It sends you into a false sense of security, inaction, like a due date a long time in the future. There's always tomorrow so we procrastinate living the life we truly desire and we live in more fear. The sense that your soul is eternal makes you cowardly because failure would stick with you forever. For ever and ever. Embarassment, humiliation and disappointment, they would never leave you. Tommorow encourages you to play it safe. Live to fight and win another day, for after all there is always another day. And this is why I find nihilism liberating and emboldening. If you can really picture the nothingess that awaits you then what is there to be afraid of? Errors and humiliations will be forgotten but great achiements may not. We may have no meaning in the cosmic context of the universe but we make our own meaning daily with each other and this is the thought that leads to action: your days are numbered, you don't know what that number is but it's finite, so get busy with what it is you want to do.
Time is running out... ...
You can watch this video to explore more about nihilism
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