Sorry Sartre (but not really)
He blinks and tries not to squint. Those lights, which seem so placid and unthreatening during the day, now glare. Breaths are short and it’s stupidcold inside this room packed with sweating people.
And so for the boy the hours and hours condensed into the half hour before his speech are unfortunate. They’re sweaty and clammy, shivery and cuticle-picky. Sitting in a chair on an auditorium floor in front of a collection of breathing mouths and blinking eyes is apparently an ordeal even for this little king of kingly things.
He berates himself intracranially like he does every time he agrees to do one of these silly little PR occasions. He knows the rabble up there doesn’t really care what he has to say. He knows he doesn’t really care what he has to say. He’s an adept bullshitter, a babysitter of the adult too captivated by crap to realize it. He knows what to say and when.
The people speaking before are in a different world. They grew up on a planet where college applications cost fifteen dollars and respect was given, not earned. And this was in a time when anyone could say anything on public access television.
‘It’s not their fault, it’s their world’ from his faux ivory tower on the auditorium floor. It’s really just plastic.
He shifts from right to left hip, teetering slightly from some short intestinal rumble. It happens. It’ll pass before he speaks. It’s the textbook excitatory response. Adrenaline rushes before, stopping peristalsis and leaving soda and garbage inert in his stomach. Then after is the comedown. Exhausted and solid-coloned. It’s like fighting a bear.
Faces, features in the crowd have glazed lids. They’re not here for the old’uns’ speeches. They’re not here for his cute little dance of raining, trite bullshit. It’s just part of the program for them. Where’s the stalecoffeeandcookies table?
The auditorium is thicky — with bodies and light and pretentions. This childish arena of childish games. He inwardly sighs a theatrical self-narrative sigh. God, such a tortured young artist. These little scuffmarks on the floor, those banners on the wall. They aren’t shit. Nothing done here is anything otherwise, not even his big shit. A theatrical self-narrative intracranial headshake.
He sits with affectedly tattered tennis shoes pointed straight ahead. Because he’s a classy, artsy fucker, because they definitely look and care and scrutinize the angle of his planted feet. It’s one of many self-gratifying dances of his: the idea that they care.
And so what, they don’t? Do they really not? Did they really drive here on a night this cold and this late just to hear this pontificated (haha he’s not using that word right in his head but that’s how these fucking plebes use it) nonsense about numbers and gods and books?
Well yeah. I think they did.
Because no matter what he thinks or wants to think and no matter how many of these people say ‘right away’ instead of ‘right of way’ or ‘could care less’ instead of ‘couldn’t care less,’ people fucking matter.
These little lives and actions and thoughts that we find so stupid in others— and ourselves — are part of whatitmeanstomean. The answer to the silly question Aristotle asked is equally as silly. It’s simple. But his pretense of pretension and his need to answer it keep him from seeing the answer. Asshole.
When we stop — when we breath — when we stop seeing the world as so blindingly, so pointlessly autocentric — the answer is right there:
The greatest gift and purpose we can ever glean from any experience — within or without our stupid cro-magnon skulls — is that the world is so much bigger than us, so much more relevant. That our matter so heavily does not matter that there is no greater purpose than to thinkbedoenjoylove.
It’s optimistic nihilism — this idea that nothing intrinsically matters and that alone gives us all the purpose we need. Love, passion, living — it’s all self-driven. One man makes the machine, the next operates it, and the third digs it up a thousand years later. All appreciate it.
Bad shit happens. But every beautiful wonderful thing that has ever happened to you happened to YOU. Even if not the conductor of good fortune, you were a member of your own cosmic orchestra.
So celebrate not your intellectual triumph over others. Celebrate not what you see as this generational or economic or social dissonance you see between yourself and others. Because this is a shared experience. We all breathe, we all eat, we all shit. We are all human —
and because of this we all have something to celebrate. I would not be here without my parents and their parents and their parents and the apes of old. Neither would you.
We owe it. To ourselves, to each other, to do something with this dance we’ve been given. There’s only seven billion, and only one. So take it take yours. Do what you love. Validate the hard work, the triumphs and terrors, the fears and loves of those before you. Because all these people who came before you — who contributed to you — live in more than just your genes.
Don’t let them dream and suffer in vain.
His name is called, introduced. Clapping and dry-mouthed gulping. The tower has been breached. The walking up, right knee a little stiff. Handshake, gapped-tooth handshaker.
A cleared throat.
An intercranial synapse. A shared experience. An infinite understanding sparked in the gas between breaths.
Eyes watch. Nothing blinks.
‘I’d like to thank you all for being here tonight.’