My philosopher’s stone
10th of November 1988 in Abu Dhabi. I lay in bed, my right ear cushioned in the pillow with my left ear quietly absorbing the echoes of the wall. I listened as the wall informed me of a distant car honking, probably on an unaware pedestrian. It whistled the state of the A.C. to me as it translated the sound of the cold dry air being pushed through the vents, and took me to the privacy of an upstairs neighbor as I heard the distant toilet flush and the sound of the “undrinkable ”water come rushing down the pipes hidden behind it. The wall failed however to introduce me to the sound of my own breathing.
The soft heaving of this 6 year old child fell to a rhythm as it fed the mind that sat there thinking. I thought about time and space, not with any scientific intention, but with the disapproving expectation of the sun to rise in a couple of hours (time) bringing my mum to my bed side to get me ready to go to that dreaded piece of real estate (space) called school.
I would think and think and think. If I wanted to escape, how far can I go, can I fly upwards to the sky forever? Like Mighty Mouse, I’d just bolt out of the window and keep going. But where does it all end? Will I have the time? I definitely would, since it takes ages for a school year to end. If I go fast enough, I might as well get to that “red brick wall” that defines the end of space and just lie down next to it and wait for them to find me. Will they miss me?
And so like that my thoughts would go on and on until I realize that the sun did rise and mama was standing by my side begging me to get up. I remember not remembering my thoughts back then, just stretching my tiny muscles and heeding my tiny stomachs call for the cooked pancakes prepared on the pantry… unaware of the future, or rather uncaring.
That was my reality. Simple, Sweet, and unburdened with expectations. No richness of feelings towards any woman but my mother, no Machiavellian scheming against competing people but my six siblings, no bouts with anxiety, and no hurried expectations of possible tragedies. No political affiliations and no responsibilities, no bank accounts and no payrolls.
At the age of 34 a lot has changed.
Life is not a school that follows a schedule, preparing you before hand with an agenda, or introducing you to the main players. Life comes at you with a diversity of situations that makes you question all purpose. As the poet Robert Frost said: “the afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
However, just like the recipe of a philosopher’s stone, God’s gift of the brain, is meant to absorb all those chaotic, quintessential experiences and treat them as “prima materia” as it plays the alchemists role of bringing their aggregate value to a boiling primeval soup of experiences. As the neurons spark within the brain they break those experiences into specific components that relate to your mind, body, soul, relationships and social role. They commence to form patterns that become more and more recognizable. Some give in to similarity, breaking under our pressure to continuously search for patterns, that they start forming our biases and habits as our life becomes more and more mono-tone, and as the value of a year becomes less and less impactful.
Maybe, that was my child form’s prophecy of a “red brick wall” laying at the end of time and at the end of space. My unknowing escape towards mediocrity.
In a whim of fear as I realized this, a few hours before starting to write this blog, I had a serendipitous remembrance and actual meet-up with a version of myself. I met him through a crowd of personalities as they all crowded around me in a Shibuya like crossing, trying to get my attention. But there he lay in simple clothing, with a beard and un-brushed hair, he pushed his way through the many forms of me and said quickly: I was not brought here to be an inactive agent but an active one. A beacon that embodies God’s creative genius that never stops gaining knowledge, sharing it and putting it to work in a natural progress bringing a virtuous circle to hymn with time capturing all space — it made sense to me that morning. Simply, I needed to avoid what I was currently heading towards; Nassim’s Taleb’s “most harmful addictions of cigarettes, carbs and a monthly salary.”
He was quickly pushed back in the crowd at 7:38 am, as the crossing quickly morphed into my room and I was held by the hand of me the employee, rushing me to jump in the shower. Behind the shower curtain, as I washed off the old spice shampoo, he came back. Like an unfaithful partner, I embraced the new comer and asked him to lead the way. First words: Write a blog and capture your thoughts. Share.
An “ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” he reminded me, and advised me to link to the anima mundi of experiences, listed in divine literature, science book, biographies, my personal experiences and in the romanticized dialogues of poets and story tellers to bring you this blog which discusses one thought at a time, there by empowering the philosopher’s stones between my ears, making the only person that matters proud and hopefully adding more color and serendipity to many of our lives.