Friday, June 9, 2017

Hevel



The traveler had finally come face to face with the man he had been looking for. The quest he had been on looking for this mysterious man had finally come to a sudden end, there he was few yards in front of him.

He was a tall, slim man with a long head of hair neatly tied up in a bun, it was beginning to gray. He wore a white shirt haphazardly tucked into a pair of blue denim jeans, on his feet were working stocks. From the stories the traveler had heard about this man, he should be at least 60 years old yet the man that stood in front of him radiated with a youthfulness which even his 44 year old self did not possess.



It was finally time to ask the question he had failed to answer himself, the question that haunted him throughout his adolescence until it became the all important quest of his life. A question he was sure this man could answer, With trepidation, he strung together the words that formed his question.



They say you are the wisest of all the seekers that have walked among us... They say your grasp of sciences is not short the best of academics back at home. Are you Malachai? Melachai from old sussex, son of Ruth and Dave?

The traveler's words hung in the air for what seemed like a minute or two.

Melachai who wrote two brilliant papers on quantum uncertainty before dropping out of a doctorate at Cambridge?

There was no answer, yet the traveler continued with his inquiry.    
They say you’ve lived up here for the last 25 years in contemplation, You must surely know the meaning of this existence? Is the glass half empty or half full? Is there a purpose or is everything we’ve known, felt, been and understood just a statistical anomaly, something that was bound to happen because the numbers are so unfathomably big?

The man's gaze rested on the traveler. the traveler thought he was being gauged. Seconds flew by, the traveler thought he may not even get a response from this man he had searched for a better part of a year. He was going to go back empty handed just like every other time.

Then suddenly the man spoke,

It can be whichever one you want it to be, you choose. Just don’t spend too much time making up your mind.  

Hearing this, the traveler felt anger bubbling up in him, did I climb up this god forsaken mountain to hear that crap, he thought. He held back the anger and responded with the calmest voice he could muster.

What’s that suppose to mean?

hmm.. I see you need a few more words to understand but I have nothing more to say than what I’ve already said. Follow me.
The man got to his feet and started making its way up a rocky path that lead to a small hut few yards up the mountain. After a few moments of reluctance the traveler pursued. As they moved up the mountain, the man started explaining,

It can be whichever you want it to be, the glass I mean, but that is irrelevant because that’s not the question you want me to answer, to make you understand. You want to know what is the meaning of living.

the answer to that question is as incomprehensible to us as feeling the curvature of the earth through the soles of our shoes. There is a meaning but it eludes us everytime we get close with our instruments and theories. The greatest of all the fools is he who waits on a singular all encompassing meaning when it’s unattainable in a 100 lifetimes. This, my friend, is the only truth you should know about what you seek.

It is a truth that can be understood with multi-million dollar machinery, in the solitude of a clear mind or on a mindful walk down a coastline. A destination that can be reached in many ways.

Look at the greatest of your sciences, Newton came along and brought to our understanding some characteristics of gravity. With this new found knowledge we could accurately predict movements of our celestial relatives using his equation, but this new understanding brought with it new mysteries, we could now explain why the earth goes around the sun the way it does but we didn’t know how gravity could instantaneously work on the two celestial bodies separated by 150 million kilometers. It took another scientist to bring to our understanding that gravity was bending the fabric of our 3 dimensional reality, spacetime. What we were seeing as the effect of gravity was the movement of objects through this curved space in a straight line. With the resolution to Newton’s question, yet again more mysteries were served on a silver platter for the scientist to bend their heads around. Maybe one day someone would bring to our understanding why us; 3 dimensional beings cannot fathom a 4 dimensional reality and how it can be done if need be but even then there will still be new mysteries to be unraveled. So has it been, so it ever will be.

Let’s continue our exploration through an allegory, take two individuals let’s name them Smith and Jo, they are as identical as they can be in physique, socioeconomic standing and other aspects, all that separate them is the manner in which they make sense of their reality. Imagine both of them are being ridiculed by society in a subtle manner because of some characteristic they both possess. They are both made aware of this fact, Smith decides to cope with this sudden turn of events with denial and continues on as if nothing had happened. Jo, decides to understand why this is so and then rectify the situation, this decision takes Jo through a decade-long bitter journey of discovery, Jo finally comes to understand why, but finds the power to rectify the situation is beyond his abilities. Ironically, Jo finds that all he can do is to deny and continue on as if nothing had happened, just as Smith did decades ago, the price he had paid for understanding was decades of his life he could have spent elsewhere.

This is the truth we must understand when we pursue answers to the unknown, sometimes it is within our capabilities to find the answer to our questions, sometimes the questions are much too great for mere mortals, we can only chisel out a piece of the answer, never the whole. Either way, the price of knowing is paid in time.

When we have so few meaningful divisions of time to give away, what we should be doing is finding where it can be best spent. Let the meaning of existence elude you, instead look for that someone who perfectly distracts you, find work that best engages you, spend the time that’s given to you and be grateful because however way you wish to look at it, life is a still a gift.

The two men had made their way to the hut.

Take a seat, my friend, I am the Melachai you seek. Let me make you a cup of tea, said the man pointing to an old wooden chair standing just outside the hut.  


The traveler wearily sat down on the chair and waited.