Path № 0. Lamp № 0: Prologue.

Alex Smith
The Lamp Essays
Published in
6 min readJun 30, 2022


My OG design for the logo, was later updated by a good friend of mine who is an amazing graphic designer

Before I begin, I must begin.


I feel like there are a few things I need to get out of the way before I dive into my feelings, thoughts, and analysis of the world.

Hello! This is me as I am typing this up :)

First, as a white, middle-class, incredibly privileged, cis-het male I gotta first check my privilege (as all of those who identify as that should). I only know so much, and my knowledge and analysis is based on my limited experience living and operating in certain parts of California, in the United States which comes with all of the unconscious biases and lack of knowledge with it.

I try to check my limited knowledge base and my privilege as much as I can, but sometimes I can be wrong, I can misrepresent, and I can absolutely use faulty analysis at times.

That being said, I have one of the best. philosophical. incredibly logical. and what I believe to be one of the most unique takes on the state of the world as it exists and has existed. on philosophical ideas. and my own perception of the human experience.

This comes from (ironically) my upbringing in a divorced household since the age of 5 where my parents had incredibly differing ideologies (which led to insanely differing parenting styles {and the fact they were both insanely smart and both incredible lawyers didn’t help}). They would use me as a pawn to try and hurt the other parent and tell me that their view of the world was more valid, and the only thing I could turn to was logic.

Me at 10 years old (dammmnn I am a cute one)

I, as the insanely anxious, incredibly ADHD (which would go undiagnosed until 22 years old) and the wildly smart kid that I was, just wanted to be loved, have community, and not have my parents fighting all the time. So I grew to be a huge people pleaser(more on people-pleasing and how it actually is not all that bad in another lamp) and designed my personality and almost everything I was to please those around me (to the point where I am still working on the insecurities around that). From which I grew SIGNIFICANT charisma, and approachability that would have me meeting and learning so much about many many people about who they were, what they did, and their perception of the human experience.

Me at 7 years old (I think?) and I am even cuter in this picture

The people-pleasing without being significantly aware of it would continue till I was 22 (and it is something I still have to work on from time to time), but in order to not drive myself insane with living life under two insanely different ideologies (of my parents), I had to develop my own way of seeing the world, and the only way was through CONSTANT logic.

Because I have ADHD (and had), there is a constant stream of consciousness in my head that would have me constantly thinking about whatever was giving me dopamine at that present moment. This means that constantly thinking about the state of reality (and specifically my reality), was something that filled my head at almost every waking moment (and goddamn came with tremendous anxiety).

Given my tumultuous and conflict-filled childhood, that led to constantly justifying to myself my own existence from my own logical system. It was not all that difficult to extrapolate what I thought my existence should look like from what I could see logically work for humans in the world.

In my teenage years, I would have to battle my dad (who, again, lawyer) for hours before breaking down crying, because I could not find a way to justify my own thoughts and feelings about my life and how: it should be, to my constantly gaslighting at the time father (although to this day I have 0 idea if he even knew that that was what he was doing) and ultimately, because I had internalized much of what my father and cultural pressures said at the time, I found myself needing his approval (and therefore him to be okay with me being who I was), to be okay with and approve of myself.

Me at 18 (less cute, way more depressed {Very badly needs love})

This led to me developing further a logical system to justify my own existence as well as convince my dad (who I would worship at this point and who is an incredibly intelligent, and logical lawyer) that my thoughts and feelings were valid.

Because, deep down, I truly just wanted to be loved, for him to be proud of me, and to be okay with myself. And now, in my adulthood, I have come to the conclusion that many many many people struggle with similar (and yet paradoxically incredibly different) issues and feel the same way.

And the other conclusion I have come to is: everyone. deserves. to. be. loved. (especially the murderers, serial killers, etc.), just for existing in this wild, wacky, wonderful, and chaos-filled life.


This series of essays is my thoughts on the human experience that either justify the premise that humans are lovable just for their existence(which is a surprisingly unpopular opinion {and I believe doesn’t need to be justified, but more on that later}), or is a critique/questioning of how things currently are and operate in the world and especially in inherently hegemonic institutional systems.

This series of essays also bravely and ambitiously attempts to do all of the above ^^^ outside of societal influences (To the point one reasonably can because it is very hard for me to communicate without language).

As for the structure of the series, essays are each a “lamp” that is a part of a “path” kind of like chapters of a book. This represents the exploration and illumination of a concept to find the truth about, around, and within.

The name of the series being lamp-based has to do with the fact that when I was tripping quite hard on mushrooms for the first time in my life I was intensely afraid of the dark, but when I was in bed with pretty much every blanket in the house, holding onto the standing lamp next to my bed, I found the comfort enough to not be afraid of the dark. I realized at that moment that the dark represented uncertainty, that uncertainty was intensely and viscerally uncomfortable for all humans, and that light, truth, and seeing things for how they actually were, unclouded and unveiled made it so much less uncertain.


I will try my darndest to publish regularly, but life happens. I have a tumultuous life, in a tumultuous world where uncertainty is the only thing we can truly be sure of. All that being said, given I do have some serious ADHD and respond incredibly well to positive reinforcement (it really gives the dopamines).

What I am also a big fan of though, is feedback. I am going to claim some pretty damn radical things about the human experience, widely held beliefs, and the very society we live in. I of course believe at the time that I am correct, but I also recognize that I can forget or not take into account a piece of things. And that is where I. appreciate. feedback.

I do believe then that when we are in good faith (taking things at face value and always assuming the other has the best of intentions) with one another (that includes me to you :), and open ourselves up to the fact that truth is difficult, and oftentimes impossible to find I think we can better build each other up instead of what internet feedback is colloquially believed to always turn into.

So if you have feedback for me or an alternative analysis, please share it as it will get us closer to the truth.

Thank YOU for intentionally making time to read this. And even though I may not know you, met you, or even heard of you:

I. Love. You.

Just for being who you are.



Alex Smith
The Lamp Essays

Your not-so-average early twenties cishet white male activist with a huge heart and a penchant for dismantling societal institutions :)