Looking back on the path I have taken to the place I am today, I realize that I never once reached a major crossroad. As a child, my parents determined what I did – what sports I played, what school I attended, where we went on vacation, etc. In eleventh grade, I got to choose whether I wanted to go to private school or public school – and after twelfth grade I made the choice to leave my province to attend university elsewhere. But never once was there any doubt about whether I would attend high school, or university even. In many ways, I have led a life of predetermination and formula. Tomorrow I turn 20, and the past two decades have been a blur.
When I graduated high school, my father made the analogy that I had been on a bus – and now reached a terminal with many more buses which would lead me to a multiplicity of potential locations. And I chose to embark on the bus of higher learning. I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into my past two years of study. I pore over every reading, and hang on every word that comes out of my professors’ mouths. And usually it is enough – I am enthusiastic enough about Hellenic architectural dialectics and obscure French philosophy to ward off the nagging feeling that there is something more. And to me, always, this is what “truth” has been. A scholar of history at heart, I believe that the only thing we know is true is the collective accomplishment – whether oral, written, invented or constructed – of mankind. This is the only truth that cannot be discredited, whereas in parts, it can be criticized. And this truth I have pursued desperately and tirelessly. However, as I might have predicted, the more I search the further away it is, hidden in obscurities, paradoxical and self-destructive. Truth seems to be playing tricks on me, branching off and dissolving. Weeks pass by, and I realize I haven’t looked up from my books in hours. My body trembles under the exhaustion of continuous focus. Reality slips through my fingers while I give my all into something that is demonstratively futile and endless. And then, just for a second, once in a while, the sun illuminates my room in her orange fire, the bare branches of the trees on the street casting blue shadows on the walls. Or maybe a gentle silence sets into the trees around the bus station, where I sit in the grass in an exhausted stupor after a ten-hour day at work, and in an instant, I am wretchedly aware. In gentle nudges I am awakened, while moments of serenity quickly pass into gnawing realization.These are moments when I understand a parallel truth. This is a truth that is irrefutable and fundamental to me, a truth I have lived since I was a child. And this truth is as persistent as the perpetual downward trickle of water, ever-present, a nuanced reminder, but at the hardest of times a blatant cry in mind that seems to negate anything I’ve done.
And I realize that I am not cut out to succeed in the conventional way. I think too much, and I don’t value the right things. Money, clothes, items – they don’t mean anything to me. Nor do I want fame or recognition – whether professional or otherwise, and thereby I stand to fight Goliath with nothing but my bare hands. I ask myself how much I am sacrificing to be where I am – and the answer is only time. This notion of time tantalizes me: I can’t help but be wrapped up in the modern monetized concept of it. There is so much, but I never seem to have enough. As deadlines press on my conscious I am swept into what it means to be modern, and I am molded and pressed by society into the capitalist ideal. I am on a path that leads directly to an internship, then graduate school, and then finally, the highly-esteemed job in a firm. Seven years: gone instantaneously. What comes after that? What truths will I have uncovered? The realization that work does not necessarily lead to enlightenment was a tough one to make, and I realize that every waking minute I am facing a crossroad, and for the first time, a question that cannot necessarily be solved by conventional reasoning, or methodological study.
This primordial and dogged truth seems to be waiting just around the corner. How easy it would be – and I am surrounded by those who have willingly succumbed to its beckonings. But they exist like stars in a far-off gallery, glimmering only faintly when I am resolute enough to look. The more I learn, the less I know about myself, but simultaneously, I am more and more different from those around me. The self-awareness I am growing is painstaking and selfish and even worse, often can trap me in a superiority complex. I reject the beliefs of almost everyone around me while I can barely formulate my own. Soon I will exist in complete isolation – an enigma, an alien tumbling amidst office towers and Walmarts and the heaps of garbage floating silently in the sea.
History is written by those who did not succumb to any secondary truths; it is written by those who nobly pursued the cause of mankind, those who sought desperately the Urmotiv, those who sought to invent and define and understand through the means which we have created for ourselves. And only these records will survive and will be passed on to the reluctant 7th grade Shakespeare-readers or perhaps eager thesis students in genetic biology. Those who strayed are lost in the unquestionable absurdity of our existence, wiped off the record of the progressive mentality of our time. Inconsequentially tender and tenderly inconsequential, the Earth heaves in her magnificent indifference, and we are earthbound for the time being. As I grapple to escape illusion it is becoming increasingly clear that knowledge is a paradox, and that truth isn’t quite where I thought it would be when I committed to finding it.