Monday, September 8, 2014

Yes, No, and Neither

The Epiphany

When I was a very young child, before I'd had my first day of school or even had my first educated conversation on philosophy or finality, a thought hit me in such a frightening, powerful way that it immediately derailed everything I knew about the world. To this day, I can't explain it; I can't recall having ever overheard a conversation that would have planted the seed in my mind, whether on television or in person, and I'm certain that I hadn't lost anyone dear to me or anything likewise traumatic occurring. It was as if the revelation struck me as a bitter gem of contemplation, or perhaps as a sign from a God.

It was a sunny--or partly cloudy--day, relatively average. I was taking a bath, having just reached an age where I could be trusted to take care of my hygiene on my own. I remember being happy and calm, even playing in the water a bit. I went about getting out and using the provided towel to dry my hair, but--and this part isn't exactly clear to me--I believe I had left any clothing in my room, which was next door to the bathroom nearby down the hall. I wrapped my towel around myself and left the bathroom to remedy my lack of apparel.

Somehow, between the doors to the bathroom and my room, it felt as if Atlas dropped the sky on my shoulders. I felt a strange heavy knot in my chest and stomach, the kind of weight one feels when they realize they have made a huge, irreparable mistake. The happy memories that I had been mulling around in my head--the same ones that had brought a smile to my face--suddenly felt tragic and sad. Those happy memories were just that: images and sounds obtained by a mind grasping at scenes from the past. Those happy times were dead and gone, and all that was left was some remnant phantom to haunt the mind.

I bawled. My walking pace slowed to a crawl and I bawled as I passed my room and walked straight into the living room, no longer aware of my lack of clothes or of my own physical existence. Dad was laying on the couch when I walked into the room, and although I'm not entirely sure that my memory is clear on this, I recall him asking what was wrong in some way. He asked a few times, if I'm not mistaken, as I was unable to answer as I walked slowly toward the couch. This part is the most clear and distinct memory of that miserable experience: I reached down for a hug, and he hugged me back, all the while I was only able to say, "What about the past?"

Decoding the Message

What had my mind reeling that day still troubles me deeply, and my analysis is as bitter as it is sweet. Debunking the symptom alone would merit a simple explanation: Chronophobia. Chronophobia is the fear of time. Sometimes, this is a fear of the future and what it will bring. To others, it is a fear of vague time-related vernacular such as 'early' and 'later.' Then, you have those who are terrified by the past. The latter of those is most likely a difficult one to comprehend by those who haven't experienced it in some way, resulting in questions like, "How can you fear the past when it is done? It can no longer hurt you!"

Let me explain how Chronophobia affected me in my childhood and teenage years. Like the story above, I couldn't think about the past without getting a sickening knot in my stomach. Thinking of happy things would usually be a pleasant experience to people, or at the most, make them melancholy. Instead, these thoughts would cripple me to such a degree that I would lose all focus and awareness of what was going on around me. I would feel alone in my observations, tormented by a ghoul that only I could see. I had a happy moment, and it was wonderful when it happened, but now it's dead. It can never be experienced again in exactly that way.

It's hard to live in a world where fate has not only made you prone to nostalgia, but has permitted nostalgia an arsenal of weaponry and the right to tear your world apart for sport, but the past was not my only foe. I found myself fretting heavily if I set my gaze to the future, too. I would be playing an innocent child's video game that brought me joy, but suddenly, I would find a song among the others in its soundtrack that struck an agonizing chord of sadness in me. Suddenly, I would dwell on the far future, how everyone I loved was going to die, and that myself and everything that existed must die or deteriorate to dust at some point in its existence.  

These deep observations of the darker end of philosophy should  not occur in the head of a young child, but Chronophobia was only a manifest symptom of a deeper issue, and treating Chronophobia alone would have been of no more use than filling a cavity in a tooth that is, in fact, in need of complete extraction/root canal.  

The Phobia's Mistress

Lying under the surface of my troubled mind was and is a tragic flaw that coexists as a massive blessing: an acute, intuitive awareness. Coupled with a curious, questioning mind, this has did wonders for nourishing my mind, my talents, and my potential. However, it lead me to discovering some of the sad truths of the universe well before I should have, when I was still a timid, emotional child in a backwater town where no one could have given me the answers I desperately needed.

One of those tragic observations was that everything has an opposite to balance it and a state of non-existence. To put this into layman's terms without going into much detail, the world in my eyes was seen in three possible states. Just like matter could exist in three basic forms (solid, liquid, gas), existence itself existed in three forms: Yes, No, and Neither. 

Yes could not exist without No for an option, and the existence of the choice was impossible unless it was balanced with a possibility of having never existed at all. Why in the world is this philosophical nonsense important? Because 'Yes' and 'No' represent two opposites that cannot exist without one another. My mind obsessed over this to no end and, in everything I witnessed, I understood its immediate opposite at the same time.

When I looked at a child delightfully playing with his or her new puppy, I imagined how that child would eventually feel when that pet would die. That thought would, by relation, cause me to imagine how the child's mother would feel if her son or daughter died in that moment. I saw happiness as one great counterweight for misery, and I was haunted by the inability to see it in any other way at all.

This was one of the powerful notions that compounded within me and drew me to heavy thoughts of suicide in my teenage years. Thankfully, I came out of that years-long struggle on top and have since been able to find a way to exist in neutrality. Most people, if tasked to observe me, would more than likely find me detached and apathetic, and while I admit to being emotionally detached from things, apathy is far from the right word to apply to me. 

The Resolution

Equanimity (noun)| Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.
Example sentence: "She accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity." 
That is quoted from simply using Google to find the definition of equanimity, and the example sentence says it all. I could not live stably if I had not learned to accept things in both of its forms. When presented with a claim or presentation from a loved one, friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger, I immediately accept it as both true and not true. How? I acknowledge in my memory that this person said this thing, but it remains in my  mind  as unconfirmed until I find acceptable evidence or citation.

When looking into the past, I feel both happiness and nostalgia at once, learning to enjoy them both as the same two-faced entity. I can allow myself to get attached to people or things, as their eventual demise is worth every fraction of a second of enjoyment I get from their company. 

People call Aquarians walking bags of contradictions, and maybe they're right about most of them. Personally, though, I think it is just the inadequate cry of people who can't comprehend the seamless balance between two extremes within one person. I hold both extremes in knowing harmony, but I dedicate myself to neither. I understand pleasure and pain, but seek neither. I stand by facts as I admire theories and the unknown.

This eventual evolution, this 'coming into my own', has made the world a magnificent, beautiful place again, and it has revealed a balance and beauty all around me that I previously only saw in flights of fantasy, escapism. I lifted the sky and gave it back to the titan whose burden it is to carry it, and now I can clearly see its grace.

In other entries, I'll go over the other burdens that lead to my suicidal years and the coping mechanisms I had to employ to get through them. 

If you have any questions about me or anything I may have been through, or would like to relay a personal story to me to see if I can relate or give advice, feel free to comment here or email me at If it is a question to me, I may hit it up in a post of its own.

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