This is a follow-up to last month’s article about the fact that the Earth will eventually disintegrate and so we have little reason to “sweat the small stuff”. That’s my take on Vlad’s comments as an astrophysicist. I realized I might sound awfully nihilistic. (I am NOT a nihilist, by the way!) So where to go from here? Knowing that the current civilizations on Earth will be gone long before we can have contact from other intelligent life-forms from somewhere else in the universe, well…..how does one go about a “normal” life with any meaning? I must admit that for awhile, I started questioning why I should go “work-out” at all! Or, why go to work? Why earn a living and go through all those all-too-familiar gyrations everyday? Why not speed up the current gradual physical decline a lot of us notice? I mean, stop brushing teeth….stop taking showers….eat junk food (well, at least lots of chocolate – like me stuffing as many M&M’s in my mouth before starting this essay because – well – they taste good, and I received a momentary good feeling all around!) So, in case some of you dear Wind Drinkers were tempted to do something drastic too, here’s my story:
I figure there must be some kind of built-in safety switch inside me somewhere. If I contemplate the notion of “oh, what’s the use?” – I don’t last too long in that dark place. To not brush teeth just one day, and I can’t live with myself (please notice the irony of that last phrase!). Not showering, and the same thing happens. Even if I were told that the Earth would disintegrate next week, I know I’d take my beloved shower every night, I’d go out neat and clean and having just had the best workout of the week. Why on Earth would I do that? Seems pretty comical. I’ve tried going without some kind of a decent workout for one week, and life is just too blah. Taking a day-off after a killer workout (or 2, heaven forbid) and I can’t stand the feeling. The feeling of what? Frankly, the body demands me to keep it in the best shape possible, and that requires constant working at it.
Last week while skate skiing up that 1st mile hill on Sourdough, I passed a couple guys talking. They pulled over to give me more room, and as I was passing the first one, I heard “There goes another one – gliding up the hill as if it weren’t there – how does he do it?” I didn’t have time to say anything more than “It’s fun” – but I was thinking – “I work at this every day all winter long so I can actually DO this!” The result is “freedom from the restraints of the body” – plain and simple. That must be why I have to brush teeth, take showers, eat, work, etc. – so I can enjoy what freedoms I can – freedom from being trapped inside a body. And, if I get too consumed by some little activity (like having to keep track of miles – which, by the way, stopped about 7 months ago – whew!!) – then that’s the result of Vlad’s revelations: the Earth is a very temporary celestial body, and that we will probably never communicate with another intelligent alien civilization since the distances between us is too many millions of light years!! And, assuming we all have an inherent built-in safety mechanism that drives us all to keep our lives and bodies and beings integrated, then – enjoy it to the fullest. And, if someone doesn’t seem to have this kind of integrated being, I would encourage them to start skiing or running – some activity that gets them outside (no matter the weather) and gets their heart-rate up, and produces sweat and makes them hungry for (good?) food afterwards, and gives them solid sleep – and gets them ready to start it all over again the next day.
And this thinking about personal freedom made me look up what Jean-Paul Sartre said about freedom. I started wondering if this quest for freedom would be the same if I were the only one on earth. I found this quote of Sartre: (you must indulge the philosophy-major I was) “We will freedom for freedom’s sake, in and through particular circumstances. And in thus willing freedom, we discover that it depends entirely upon the freedom of others and that the freedom of others depends upon our own. Obviously, freedom as the definition of a man does not depend upon others, but as soon as there is a commitment, I am obliged to will the liberty of others at the same time as my own. I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim.” So, there you have it. This is why I write these little essays – my freedoms depend on you and your freedoms, and this must be the reason the wise ones always say “We Are All One”. I need you to be free (or whatever) for me to be free. I need you to be loose, supple, strong – for me to be the same. HA! And you thought Vlad the Astrophysicist went off the deep end! I followed right along…… - David Summerfield