The Gift of Consciousness

A story of how I interpret reality and my journey to decipher consciousness.

If I remember correctly, the first ever philosophical “moment” that I had since my birth was in senior kindergarten. It may sound silly to say that a five year old kid had an exquisite thought. Frankly, I wasn’t trying to be deep, I was merely expressing my true inner feelings. Because my family moved, the five year old me was forced to change kindergarten. I was quite sad as you can imagine without any people to play with me, at least for the first week. So I often run away from the crowd and look at them from a distance (preferably behind something like a tree) and say to myself:

“So this is what it looks like if I never existed” — 5 year old Mark

I was telling myself this possibly multiple times a day for like a solid month (or whenever I get sad). However, I never gave it much more thoughts until twelve years later (now). It gives me chills now whenever I think about or trying to formulate an image of myself back then. On the surface, it probably just sounds like an antisocial kid who doesn’t have friends. However, it really has a deeper meaning to it (at least that’s what I tell myself).

I was being super-conscious about my surroundings. I was able to clearly differentiate “one” from “another” or myself from “they”. In fact, I was so aware of this that I imagine what “they” would be like had I never came into existence. I had a thorough understanding of how insignificant or unimportant my existence was, solely based on my five years of experience (on life).

This — the gift of consciousness, just seems nothing but brilliant to me. Consciousness is the most common “thing” that we (or humanity) takes granted for. Quite a lot of people possibly never think about or be bothered to think about the complexity, the beauty, and the power of consciousness. It is something that we all have, yet only a few philosophers and scientists take time to think about it. Frankly, consciousness is what differentiates us from other living beings on planet Earth. It is what enabled us to dominate the entire planet, and terraforming it so that it fits our needs. Consciousness is what gives us our want, our non-instinctive desires, and our ability to question absolutely everything.

For example, you wanting the latest iPhone isn’t an instinctive or survival need. Yet, you might work very hard to purchase it. Why is that? If our goal as the human species is merely to survive, we might still be living like chimpanzees. Jumping around on trees to get our daily in taking of delicious bananas. Why don’t chimpanzees want to better their lives by building houses? Why don’t they create tools so that they can get their tasty bananas faster? It is because they are content with life as long as they meet their basic survival needs. They don’t have endless desires like us (homo sapiens) that drives us to develop new tools or methods that make our life better.

It really comes down to our ability to ask questions, in other words, our curiosity. Because we are conscious, we question things, we question what can we do to make our own life or our loved ones’ life easier, we question why things are the way it is, we even question why we question (like now).

Being conscious is to be able to realize that oneself is apart from others. If you really take the time to feel and contemplate the state of you being conscious, you will feel like you (as in your consciousness) are looking out from an eye and controlling a body. If you really think hard, you might even feel like you are playing a video game, and you are a character from “outside” that controls the body. As a better analogy, if you ever tried virtual reality, think of our world as a virtual reality game.

When you read this article and encounter the word “you”, do you feel like your physical body is being called out or is it just the “you” that somehow just exist within you? Personally, whenever I read the word “you”, I feel like the article is talking to the “me” that is in my body. In other words, it is referencing to my consciousness rather than my entire physical self. This sometimes haunts me, it sometimes makes me feel like I’m trapped inside this “character”.

Sometimes, I feel limited that my body is all that I have to express myself. Sometimes, I wish I am able to feel less restrained and be more in control. And just sometimes, I hope I can understand what I am.

Consciousness is a gift that evolution have given to mankind, it enables us to be the superior species on Earth. However, it is up to us to make use of this unique ability, it is up to us to be responsible with this brilliant power, and it is up to us to unravel the gift of consciousness.

And that’s it! I owe you a million thanks if you read all the way up until here (Frankly, I owe you a million minus one thanks if you even clicked in here).

This is my first ever Medium article, I still have a lot to learn, so please feel free to leave a comment so I can get some feedback. Thanks.

A software engineering student with some philosophical and musical thoughts.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store