February 19, 2007

Why Bother?

I remember a space in the basement of the DeVries Science Building at Calvin where I liked to hang out between classes. Natural light filtered down through the atrium above from skylights four or five stories high. Much of the interior structure was exposed, revealing stairs and crosswalks overhead. At the base of a column, near the floor, someone had impressed a small epitaph into the surface which coated the concrete - "why bother?"

It was a question that I was oft to ponder in the DeVries basement, vaguely aware of the bustle and activity above. The burden of all my amassed perceptions and limited understanding was becoming too much to bear. I felt like I was thrashing around in the dark, groping and jabbing out of pure desperation, not finding anything to hold onto. I had essentially come to the conclusion that my world and the lense through which I viewed it were predicated on euphemisms, persistant denial, desperation, and all-out lies. The pillars upon which my universe was constructed were not slowly eroding; they were vaporized.

Imagine you are born into an all-compassing shell. Although it poses no threat, it is dense and restricts you to only the smallest range of motion. It does, however, nourish and keep you insulated. Of course, in order to accomplish this, all your potential for self-destruction must be suppressed.

There would be little cause for frustration if it weren't for the occasional streak of light, delivering the idea of an outside world. You become engaged by this concept, building knowledge. In a rush of enlightenment you burst free of the former confines and restrictions of the shell, annihalating its power over you. For a fleeting moment you are bathed in sunlight, free at last to explore untethered being.

Unfortunately, as you soon realize, the very bubble which nearly suffocated you also kept you afloat in a bottomless sea of nothingness. Celebration is rapidly replaced by panic, but there's nowhere to go and you don't know how to swim. Let the sinking begin.

P.S. - The "Big Steps" in the title of this blog refer to growth and changes in my way of thinking about the world, resulting in part from a liberal arts education. I took a few big steps and before I knew it the door had slammed shut behind me.

Is ignorance bliss? Is the grass always greener? Have you ever met anyone who kept a New Year's resolution? [No.] Did they make (and break) one the year before? [Yes.] Is refusing to be sustained by an endless cycle of self-delusion a blessing or a curse?

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