“Who am I? “
I don’t know. Stop annoying me.
Who am I?
Philosophical contemplations can become distressingly tiresome. “Can’t I just live my life without having to ponder over heavy questions? Can’t I just find answers that are just answers and not hidden questions which have no answers? Can’t I – you know- like- just -freaking – chill?”
In a case of mind-blowing simplicity, the answer to those deep questions is No.
I have always wanted to stare sideways and say deep things about life. That’s the reason I am writing this post. So, here goes: Life is a question-answer game. We are constantly asking ourselves a bunch of weird questions and trying to find answers. Most times we guess, but it’s the attempt to find answers that give us a grand sense of purpose.
There are infinite levels to this game. We know four well.
Where did the sun go?
You spend the beginnings of life at the first level. You ask the looniest of questions. You hear confident answers. Most of the answers you hear are wrong. Adults made them up to shut you up. The first level ends once you realize this. You take it upon yourself to find answers to all questions here on. No more asking the adults.
How much did you get?
The second level is when the questions begin to get stressful. Because others begin to ask you questions now. And they wait with nosy-bated-breath to hear your answers. This is your first chance to prove to the world that you have the answers. The ‘teenage’ is your entry into a world of answering questions. Life will never be the same again. And no one’s really sure if that’s good or bad. The second level ends sometime between the realizations that shaving every day doesn’t necessarily result in a beard and that you must delete your search history.
Engineering or death? Or Medical?
The third level is when you first begin to imitate the world. Until now, all the imitations were innocently benign. They were a ‘phase’. Now, your imitations are the answers: answers to questions that hit you way too soon, answers that will piss you off looking back. The imitative answers will rob you of the privilege you once had: of asking questions. You are told that you can’t keep asking questions if you don’t have the answers. You fall back into getting answers from the adults. This time not because you should shut up, but because you have nothing to say. The third level ends when you think that the hardest questions are behind you. That’s because you have no idea what lies ahead.
So, what next?
The fourth level is when you seek originality. It’s what will lead to some of the hardest questions you will ever have to answer. This is the level where the massive “what should I do with my life” question looms over every decision. The three levels gone by will have little influence on your answer. Even the third level feels like a distant past. This is when you start thinking of things like passion, purpose, and procreation. You hope what you loved as a kid will give you some clue and that’s when you realize you never stuck to anything long enough to fall in love with. You just loved whatever was next. You need to start over at this level. As you think all this, the humdrum of work has begun at the back. A couple of years have gone by. You went back to school just to put a closure to the imitation. The questions come and go, unattended. They are always accompanied by a grim panic. You want to run away a little. Has everyone else found the answer or have they stopped asking questions? Where’s the next level?
There are no more levels. Every level ahead is an unpredictable mortal infinite. It can break you in ways the other levels couldn’t. What’ll keep you going are the questions. The same questions that you hoped will stop someday. The questions you ponder over, looking sideways. The unending, unanswerable, and unnerving questions that will send you to sleep and wake you up at the same time. For the first time, ever, you have a real shot at finding an answer, your answer. But, we miss taking that shot because the process is tedious. We stop asking questions because there’s no answer and the one answer you find is a question that in turn has no answer.
“Time to stop asking so many questions? Isn’t that a question too? Can you make it stop?”
There’s a resigned calm on the faces of those that stop asking questions. That calm is alluring. It will be nice to have that calm. People will tell you to stop being so questioning all the time because it’s very annoying. That’s the easiest way to lose the game: to stop asking questions. To stop playing. To give up. To break rather than be broken.
Asking questions is what keeps us awake. It’s what tears us into a million pieces. The choice is whether you want to try putting those pieces together or let them scatter away into nothingness. You are free to leave the game without knowing a single part of yourself, letting someone else put the pieces together in the order they wish. Or, you could sit down and start putting the pieces together knowing that some pieces have scattered off already, knowing you will never really know who you are, knowing that you will never, ever, find the answer.
Final Question: What’s the point then?
To question when there are no answers, to put yourself together when you can never become whole, to look sideways and say, “I am starting to see something beautiful”. This is the point.