Life is really weird.
This may seem like a statement of the obvious. But take a moment to really consider it. I don’t mean to start this off hard and heavy but really, regardless of what you believe about the afterlife, etc. our time here is very short. It is short and unimportant.
I know that once I am gone it will only take 3 generations or so to be completely forgotten. Even if I do something completely spectacular, like conquer a nation, I will be forgotten. That nation will be re-conquered and reformed and ultimately, my contribution will be rendered pointless.
Again, I don’t mean to be too heavy here. Because looking at the world like this gives me an enormous sense of perspective. To know that I really don’t matter and nothing I do matters, really takes the pressure off.
When I look at the world like that all I am left with is a profound sense that I should collaborate as much as possible, love everyone and try not to cock up too often (as the English would say).
The feeling that I do not matter motivated me to do things, not to try to matter per say, but to try to make the most of this strange, weird, pointless, wonderful, incredible miracle that is human consciousness.
I think this is why I get so much joy from feeling a wave crashing over me on the Brighton Pier. I will be soaked and cold and salty for the rest of the day, but this will only serve to remind me of the incredible power of the ocean and the sheer statistical improbability that not only have we navigated the escapeless vastness of such fierce waters, but also all the things that live there. And my inescapable connection to all of those things.
The smallest plankton is just as important as I am, in that we are both utterly pointless, and ultimately, part of a larger ecosystem system. The older I get, the more I am able to understand my place in the eco system. I think my place is as a catalyst.
I am excellent at doing things. What’s more, I am excellent at getting other people to do things. This is my only talent. And it can often fail with complete spectacularity.
Spectacularity may not be a word in the strictest sense. But it is here and now, for my purposes.
I don’t do things because I want to, although certainly this is part of my motivation. I do things, with others, because I want to share an experience. I want to make stories. I want to give some meaning to this ultimately pointless trek though the dark, even if only for the briefest of moments.
Because, so far as I am concerned, the only reason to be here, the only point in living, is the people.
It is the people we meet and learn form and share with that make this whole awful, terrible, wonderful, pointless life worth something.
My favorite author, John Green, once wrote the words, with the collaboration of many others, “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”
And this is what the world is. We are all stars trying desperately to align ourselves with others enough to make some kind of sensible pattern. We are all of us galaxies, trying to fill the insurmountable gaps of space between us and inside of us.
I make no attempt at philosophy, nor do I consider myself either particularly wise or even a very good or very interesting person. And I know you, dear reader, are here to read of England, so I will digress for now and move on from my own existential crisis to tell you of all the attractions you must see.
If you end up studying abroad and it is possible to take a drama course, I HIGHLY recommend it. You may have to do some public speaking and that is uncomfortable yes, but many of the drama courses will also give you access to shows and events that you would not otherwise think to see or even know about.
If drama really isn’t for you though and you want a free and entertaining time I cannot stress enough seeing Covent Garden; the place is beautiful and full of street performers who put on some truly spectacular shows. Though I did find that English audiences are somewhat more reserved then I am used to. Finding myself as the only cheering, screaming, enthusiastic audience member was a bit of a strange, though entertaining, experience.
The hills of Worcestershire are more than worth a visit if you can get there. Teeming with sheep in a wind swept, classically Dickens landscape; this is the real English countryside.
I head to Edinburgh soon and I cannot wait to share what happens there. Until then, tata dear reader.
And remember to smile.