A Certain Type of Decisive

United States

Just your unfriendly neighborhood disaster, bringing you bi-weekly updates from the bottom of my own shoe!

Message to Readers

Okay I know the prompt aid "Be Brief" but NPR is a suggestion in the ocean- I am a submarine, with propellers clogged with garbage.

Big thanks to my mom and this is my first gender reveal!! It was probably way past time, hope this doesn't change anything? It's be kind of weird if you hadn't guessed by now based on how many stories I've written about women.

My Mom, Macaroni, Machiavelli, and Me

June 8, 2020

PROMPT: This I Believe

12
    The first book I ever really read was The Mysterious Benedict Society. I had read plenty before that- picture books, school books, and the occasional Junie B Jones- but they never really count, do they? There's always one book that starts you, the one that makes you feel something. Like just about any kid who reads their first long book, I wanted to be like the main character- I wanted to be interesting enough to write a story about. I can see now, from my unfair vantage point in history, that the main character was pretentious and an all around snobby guy. But because I was only seven, I decided that “contemplating the universe instead of conversing with peers” must be pretty cool if it meant Reggie got to solve puzzles, learn Morse code, and live in a cool secret fortress! I have always been classically selfish- I wanted to be the one to figure out the meaning of life.
    I had seen a philosopher in a cartoon before- just some old guy with a pipe repeatedly asking what the meaning of life is. I didn’t have a pipe, but I asked my mom and she said it was smoking and, of course, I couldn’t do that- say no to drugs, for goodness sake! I hoped it wasn’t necessary, as I assumed the well known “thinker” pose.
    It didn’t take more than ten minute- though it was a million years for my usually short attention span- for me to come to the conclusion that the meaning of life must be love. My reasoning was, if God is love, we are created in their image, and love feels good, that must be why we exist, right? Mommy, stop making macaroni, call the president, tell him to fire all the philosophers, I did it. I figured it out
    My mom is the sort of woman who won’t teach her kid how to hold a fork until they are ten- because she wants to save the nagging for more important things, like ethics and morals. And though I’ll admit my dinner manners were subpar most of my life, at least I grew up thinking I was beautiful and knowing to question information from unreliable sources. She was proud of me for thinking, but she asked me, “what if someone loves to do bad things?”
    I didn’t have an answer.
    So I grew up, forgetting this for a long time- and suddenly, I was in junior high. My social studies teacher may be the best I've ever had, she told us why the class wasn’t called history, despite it being what the class is about- she said in order to understand history, you must understand history, you must understand people, and in order to understand people, you have to read their philosophies. She told us, at the end of the quarter we would have to present our own philosophies to the class. And I was excited.
    We studied the Greeks, the Buddhists, Machiavelli, the Renaissance, great historical documents, and the shadows on the wall. We learned about caged birds and the nature of man and debated the purpose of government. Several students, including myself, would sometimes have a brief existential crisis and have to step outside. Mine had to do with wasted effort- if I were to go, run away and live in the woods, all the work I've ever done to prepare for college would be for nothing. If I were to die tomorrow, I would have wasted tears- how can I be sure I cry over the right things? What if I am forced to live in the woods and I have done nothing to prepare?
    Forget puberty, forget blood and pain, these were the days I earned my womanhood! I questioned everything- Socrates might be proud had I not been born a different sex than he- I questioned my religion, my parents, my government, my teachers- yes I had thought before, but was it truly thinking? I learned about my mother, who had been a stranger to me, like many mothers are to their children. It's strange how you can know so much about a person, to have grown inside them, yet know almost nothing about them. I listened to her talk in these days, about voting, about abortion, about God and the church, about marriage, about race, about sexuality, about places in the world she'd seen and those she'd only wished to. Philosophy without experience is worthless- but if you can't get it yourself, secondhand is fine. 
    When the end of the quarter came, I found I had misunderstood the assignment. From my vantage point in history, I am proud and look upon it fondly. I was embarrassed, but I have always been classically selfish- too much confidence for my own good. I like public speaking- even if my “spheres of influence that remain constant throughout history” based on the Captain America movies would not be a refreshing comedic break from serious metaphysical debate- as every single other person had created a short slide show on how a legacy is like footprints in the sand or knowledge is like a candle in the dark. 
    The general idea of that philosophy was not so much a personal philosophy, but a societal one. I had used the idea of the premise of the Captain America movies to highlight what hadn't changed in the world since 1945- and then look back further to see if it had ever changed. My "three spheres of influence" were love, war, and art- as general terms of course. Society could exist without war, but without arguments between neighbors? Society could exist without art, but wouldn't that only change the definition of what art is? People can procreate without romance, but is that the only kind of love? There has never in history been a group of people who existed without these things.
    Still, despite a good philosophy with colorful info-graphics, I wasn't satisfied. Inside, I was still trying to satisfy that old man with a pipe asking the meaning of life (I was also trying to get him to quit smoking- those anti-vaping ads were getting to me). Perhaps I knew what life was, but why? I knew I was close.
    I was almost there, but I was missing something. 
    So I got older: I was in high school- just a freshman. An aspiring author, poet, artist, programmer, musician- I wanted to be everything- I still want to be everything. It was the year of Indigo- the year of trying to connect philosophy with religion with storytelling. I had the story all figured out- all I need was to know the meaning of life. I decided the meaning of life was not war- what kind of sadistic creator would that be? It was not love- that left too many unanswered questions, it was too jealous and messy. The meaning of life was not art, not quite, that was just a goal. No- if we were made in the image of the Creator, is it not the holiest form of worship to create? Genesis 9:7, "אַתֶּ֖ם פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֑וּ שִׁרְצ֥וּ בָאָ֖רֶץ וּרְבוּ־," Just about anyway you translate it, God tells the universe to go across the earth and create, any way you know how. Even forgoing religion: we are a species with fingers and thumbs, with brains that create solutions to any problem we encounter, to evolve and reproduce, the most basic function of nature, is that not creating ourselves? We define ourselves as human based on tools and problem solving- we marvel at animals who do the same. When plants don't get enough sunlight they grow in a new way to make sure they get it- they recreate themselves.  The meaning of life is creation and don’t ask me why people create bad things, because cruel people are created, too. We have free will- the meaning of life isn't all sex and sculptures, it's atom bombs, too. We have fingers and thumbs and brains that have to be careful not to hurt people when we make things- but we can't stop making things just because we're afraid. Go write, draw, compose, sing, paint, dance, dream, cook, photograph, act, talk, love, whatever it is that you create- do it. 
     I won't call myself a philosopher- I think that might make me seem pretentious and like an all around snobbish guy- but  I can't say I'm not still tempted to tell my mom to call the president and tell him to fire all the philosophers. I might lack a vantage point of history to know if I've figured it out or not, but I think I've had enough experience being wrong to know maybe I should give it some time before I rush in to burn down philosophy major's dorm rooms. I created a philosophy that glorified the writers, the artist the musicians- everything I saw myself as- but what can I say? I'm classically selfish.
Please tell me if I messed up the Hebrew, I put it in Google Translate and it didn't work, so I think it's some really old kind of Hebrew? If you have a more accurate version of that verse, please tell me!

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  • June 8, 2020 - 9:15pm (Now Viewing)

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8 Comments
  • LilaP

    This is completely amazing. I have no words (ironic since that’s the whole point) for how great this is. I wrote something kind of like it a while back. I think I’ll post it now! Thanks for the inspiration brochacho!!


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Replying: *flattered squeaks of excitement*


    6 months ago
  • AbiJoy

    I feel like you just broke a fourth wall. You go you funky little philosopher! You'd be fine in the woods! You've got quality secondhand experience! You're my favorite submarine <3


    6 months ago
  • sunny.v

    help we studied about machiavelli in class and i saw him in the title and i went...*laser focus*


    6 months ago
  • Doodleninja

    wow I was captivated by that whole piece and your writing! You told your story, your journey, your discoveries so well, and I loved the little anecdotes to further emphasize your point. Stunning work! :D Also that title is *chef's kiss* yes
    (yeah, I can't keep any of my writing brief either, I am cursed XD)


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    My mom read the Hebrew, and it is Genesis 9:7, so whatever you used is correct.


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    I am, quite frankly, awestruck. Since I got on the site, I respected you fairly immediately, beyond a mere appreciation for your writing and support. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but this piece is "it" (as is that super long paragraph you put on a review of my piece once). Anyway, you're a cool being. <3


    6 months ago
  • journal.scribbles

    I really like this piece. I love the recurring themes and how honest it feels. I thought I was just going to read the beginning because it was so long, but it was super engaging so I got sucked into reading the whole thing :)


    6 months ago