There was a time when I didn’t care. Back when my love for Capri-Sun packets and Dexter’s Laboratory marathons was just that — a love. The ultra-concentrated sugar water at the end of an ice pop. If I reflect on it, I’d say my childish proclivities were the product of effective marketing by old guys with $ emblazoned on their eyeballs. But wait — that can’t be right. I was there, I know. It had nothing to do with that; I loved those things.
Manipulation and $ are what Capri-Sun packets and back-to-back-to-back Dexter’s Laboratory are to me now. Back then, it was love: happiness. And the airy juice bubble films pulled by suckered mouth from the shriveling aluminum packaging: sadness. And I’ll be to be damned to hell if I ruin it for me.
I wish I could remember what it felt like the first time I worried about meaning. Was it revelatory? Did it hit me like a wall? Was it always there in my peripheral vision, waiting for me to make eye contact? Did it beckon? Did it jab me in my ribs? I can’t remember. When did I decide that meaning mattered? When did I decide that the nobility of reflective honesty sanctioned my tainting of memories of love? And on what basis? Did I ever have a choice? You should get to choose — if it’s irreversible, you should get to choose.
Well anyway, here we are — meaning seems to matter. I have been told that my moment-to-moment existence is supported and guided by a sprawling, densely interwoven web of conditions and incoming influence, inextricably linked to things that matter, and so I have learned that it is important to reflect on volitions, thoughts and desires and figure out, “Why?” “Why that juice drink?” “Why that university?” “Why that M.O.?” I’ve been told that is the only way that I’ll be able to extract anything resembling a person from this dense and jagged everything. I’ve been told that this is what it means to stand on solid ground, character-wise. I’ve been told that I’m an important person for me to know.
But to this I cannot help but ask: Why? Why meaning? Why not love? Why understanding? Why this fear of the nebulous?
I can kill memories of love with my mind, but I haven’t been able to kill this love, I notice. Early morning chilled air and vacant village centers. Dinner table laughter, 10 p.m., a sink full of dirty dishes in the background. Sleepy eyes and the distant sound of calm exchanges by familiar voices. Floating belly-up, head half submerged, my heartbeat in my ears. The full-stop impact of words heavy with truth. Breath you can see.
There’s this idea that our affinities aren’t, in reality, elementally wondrous. There’s the idea that they only seem this way because our introspection is under-informed or just plain misled and rosy-eyed. There’s the idea that if we’re going to be self-analytical we might as well be harshly honest because if we’re not going to be honest with ourselves — well, then hell, what’s the point thinking about these things in the first place? There’s the idea that when we find the truth, we’ll be able to describe it in intelligible sentences. And there’s the idea that honestly, we don’t actually think that anything is fundamentally wondrous. Given enough time, we’ll figure it out: if something doesn’t make sense, we haven’t looked hard enough.
But so what if I liked Capri-Suns over other sugary drinks because of effective marketing techniques that led me to believe that Capri-Suns were just better than Kool-Aid for just too many reasons to get into? So what if my proclivity for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Coen Brothers flicks has an element of ostentation? So what if I now enjoy chilled morning air and contemplative floating because these moments are romantic, refreshing and conducive to my introspection and general development as a thinker (Good-Thinker-Status being valuable on the social market)? Because, hell: this feels good. This is good for me. I. Love. This.
Convinced that meaning matters most, we are destined to go on destroying love and loving destruction until the gears stop turning. Forever lagging a moment behind experience, reflection will never be without an object.
I remember being a kid and riding my bike in circles. Around and around and around.
Is the acknowledgement of futility enough to snap us out of it? If everything that mattered doesn’t matter, can we change our minds? This is the tangle that a sweeping distrust the nebulous creates — the moment of recognition becomes the moment of submission. We notice the ties that bind us and are bound. So why look? Go ahead and stop already. Stop.
Original Author: Nathan Tailleur