What makes people people?
Being privileged could sometimes be a matter of perspective. Some argue it’s always. Counting your blessings and curses and seeing that the good stuff outweighs the bad could make one feel privileged somehow. And yet do we really count our blessings or is it just advice we give to comfort people who are on the brink of tying their nooses?
More often than not, I find myself questioning everything, and the meaning behind anything at all. Are there aliens? What happens to you after you get sucked by a black hole? How big could an anus get? Is there a life after death or do I just get reincarnated into a microbe? Don’t you tell me I’m alone in using such questions for self-interrogation. Anyway, I asked the first question in this post because of one true experience.
Days ago, I braved myself to see the world. Yes, I actually went out of the house. And not only that, I went to the busiest portion of the city where the majority of the people you’d see are the dirt poor.
I thought at first it’s only the lack of financial prosperity, but when I looked closer I saw that the saddest thing is not how shabbily they dress, not even how they work in a space where you can literally smell the scent of shit wafting constantly, not even when I never saw these people give out a genuine smile to another person, no. I’m okay with a non-smiling person most times–I do that a lot myself. It’s the way they look at nothing, the nothingness of space, with eyes that reflect exactly that.
I thought I was not seeing people but their ghosts.
Not that I actually know how real ghosts look like. I still don’t know whether I’m lucky or not for that but I know seeing one would spook me out. So, determined to prove I was not in the ghost plane, I poked the watch repairman.
I actually touched something solid! But then he turned to me with those eyes. Nothing changed; it’s as hollow as ever.
That day, poverty stared at me. And I looked back.
What makes people people? I don’t know, but despair seems to be a part of it. At least if those creatures I saw are actually people. Heh, I know they are–despair had already been an acquaintance to me, too.
But what I saw was already an excess.
I never intended to count my blessings. Forcing myself to look at reality that day made me do it nonetheless. Money is already a part of humanity, but we shouldn’t let it get the best of us. I know I am more privileged than some of those people–that I could still eat three times and even have some spare time to blog–so it’s easier for me to say that. Maybe. But I won’t take it back.
If it’s any consolation, people who have lots of money never escape despair either. It’s part of not just humanity, but of life. The earth despaired when Michael Jackson died (it did!), mama turtle despaired when a heron ate her newly-hatched turtling (or she didn’t because she wasn’t even there).
What I’m saying is, it’s normal to feel despair. But we should not let it defeat us because as long as you’re still [technically] alive you’ve got a shot at changing things. Yes, even the whole miserable condition you are living now.
It just really pains me seeing people, even total strangers, look at the world with those empty eyes. Is life really such a dreary phenomenon for them? It’s all such a waste. We don’t have the certainty of another life except this one we currently have. You might believe in an all-powerful benefactor or not but you’ve got to admit that life is a gift–one that doesn’t last. So I don’t really see the point of living it like you’d rather be dead.
All of us–rich, poor, ugly, beautiful, black, white, yellow, red, straight, crooked–are vulnerable to despair. But it’s up to you to wallow in it. Or you could always choose to look at the lighter side and might actually be happy.
And then, it might only be my perspective…