There is very little that I have to say that is important. While I had planned to mass-produce another article detailling something silly or slightly stupid, like I’ve done recently, in light of the recent acts of terrorism, nothing seems worth discussing. How can I plaintively discuss my disastrous attempts at attending a frat party or impulse buying a guzheng — a classical Chinese zither — when people’s lives have been irrevocably changed, or altogether destroyed and the pretense of safety in the world has once again slipped from society’s grasp? Trying to search for meaning in this world that is plagued with commonplace atrocities is exhausting.
I am certainly no stranger to existential crises and I am by no means an emotional person. So this is me, trying to be emotional. And yet, it is so much easier to think about these events only as news titles about detached and foreign events affecting people hundreds of thousands of miles away, where their pain cannot reach you. But sometimes that is the only way to survive a day without your body aching, suffocating under the knowledge that pain is inherent in the world. Often it seems like the only options are to remain aloof or to force ourselves to experience pain; neither is a particularly pleasant option.
However, I am not writing about what occurred in Paris, Beruit and elsewhere. To do so would be a disservice to the monumentality of the events, as the feelings of a semi-informed college student can do little more than repeat the same feelings already expressed. Pain is not unique. It is a universality, a senseless guarantee in this world that leaves none unscathed.
Where does the root of sadness lie? The answer to that is something I have puzzled over in conversations with close friends and on my own to no avail. More importantly, how can we allow ourselves to become blind so as to not be destroyed by the gravity of current events, and the undocumented horrors that occur every day?
In trying to dissect my own forms of sadness, I often fail. Generally, it is through the lens of poetry that I discuss the feelings of absence and erasure that often overwhelm me in my own life, things I cannot even begin to consider without using art as a pretense of defense against the truth. In my writing, it is possible to undergo realizations about myself that I would not be able to confront otherwise. Or sometimes I ignore it. Turning my thoughts to the small pleasures, like running on the canal or eating M&M’s, allows for momentary escape.
I cannot help but assume that everyone must think like this at some point during the day, when the monotony of suffering through yet another international relations course followed by work followed by a barrage of club activities forces nihilist beliefs out of whatever crevice they normally work in. For me, it is unfathomable that a person can happily coexist with his own consciousness and not be brutally aware of the inevitability of death, or the fact that as we live our own privileged lives, we remain ignorant of the plights of others, even those surrounding us.
Knowing that all of this sadness is possible in the world, how do we go on? How do we shrug away the burden of the guilt that comes from trying to be happy, for not knowing the true extent of pain? I apologize that this article wasn’t “zany” or “quirky” or “outlandish” like my normal work and that the prompt of this article is a discussion that I can truly add nothing to. But in all honesty, it was either this or K-pop, and somehow discussing my burgeoning love for boy bands did not seem very appropriate in light of everything that has happened.
There is no end to this article, just like there is no end to the events that will undoubtedly occur in the world and make us question all that we understand about happiness. As long as the world orbits, I am aware of the possibility of my death at all times, and although disconcerting, it reminds me to be content with the everyday experiences and accomplishments, and to focus on only impressing myself. To live is to struggle, but it is also the greatest — and the only — thing we will do.
Taylor Bond is a sophomore in the College. This is the last appearance of TAYLOR TRIES THINGS this semester.