Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ex Nihilo

The constant receding borders of the limits of possibility sweep the proverbial rug from beneath my feet. Possibility engulfs me. It is not the quality of possibility I have been acquainted with from time to time that I now speak, those welcomed, short bursts which catapult into transcendent vision from my everydayness, a bodily ripple of charge, a fierce exciting vitality and empowerment of personal control, but an endless dark vastness which swallows me entirely, the blackness and disorientation of the expanding universe.

It comes from an environment I have praised and continue to praise, one it took years to generate the courage and resources to enter: one with very little imposed, external structure. The structures of my current life evolve from the inside out. I create my work opportunities, my play opportunities, my projects and my pursuits. I create the time at which I wake, I create the physical and interpersonal spaces I inhabit. I even create the challenges and resistances I intend to work through and overcome. I create my days, thus I create a life, my life. Weeks no longer churn in repetitive motions. Mondays are no longer Mondays, each forward-marching return of the sun holds within it its own signature texture. Welcome to 365 flavors.

I have never been with, or operated out of, this sort of monumental blankness, which requires me to draft the structural and decorative lines and construct the mosaic. Over a half-decade ago I began studying existential claims; some years back, I self-identified as an existentialist; only in very recent months have I begun to live existentially. I once thought about existentialism, caught as I now realize in excessive cognition and bloodless argumentation. Now I care only to embody. I do not intend to mislead that my special new context has allowed me a freedom I was once denied by external force and obligation. No, au contraire: All along I have been and am and will be this free, I am now only beginning to feel it, to acknowledge it, to embrace it as the case. My current environment has functioned as a prism of my basic reality that has always already been operating, beneath serious illusions I had adopted as over and against me: the requirements that I needed to live by. I embark on a lived study of un-programming, suitably at the culmination of my formal studies (a large part of the grand withdrawal of external structure).

Others who have exploded the constructs of obligated living in their lived commitments have provided the pathway to my own avowal of the full creativity of a life, of radical choice. To them I am indebted (but as we know, not in a way that would constrict the abundance of my freedom). When people, in their defense of limitation, caught in the sweet ease of bad faith, smirk and demand from me, “Certainly you are restricted in the fact that you need money to survive,” I simply can give them those who have outgrown humanity into the √úbermensch. McCandless and those who live out his spirit today, e.g. Daniel Suelo. Their particular path I may not personally uptake. Freedom demands I carve out my own rather than follow footsteps, however few. Their centrality to my heart lies in the fact that their lives are the exceptions to necessity. They are the (Lived) Statues of Liberty. Maybe I am not cool enough for others to know me in this way yet, but I feel the sweeping power of a name change, a movement from the given designation of my birth name, a marker and example par excellenece of facticity, to a chosen appelation.

I think I’ll choose Supertonin.

This all may seem a bit grandiose and over the top, which is what possibility tends to do to the spirit, I’ll admit. Yet I do not declare it from an untouchable, holier-than-thou perch. I am learning that in every choice, even a choice to choose from the ground up, ex nihilo, there is a building and a demolition. Advantages and downsides. New openings which close down old avenues. For in freedom I have discovered the dark side of the wide blank canvas, the startling paralysis of emptiness, the burden of every action and every decision as my own, my own alone: I have discovered angst. I continue to act, as I must, but action comes with a crippling doubt and commentary: If nothing holds me to this act, if it must be solely me who affirms, upholds, and does this, should I? What good is it? What will this amount to? Is this really mattering? Is this what I want to do? To be known for? To enjoy? To spend my time developing? In possibility, ironically, I can no longer simply do.

What I am left with is a somewhat disorganized assortment of activity, a distracted flittering of attentions, a drowning sea of choice. I find myself in lecture halls with the definitive world expert on rare mosses, I find myself collecting household supplies with which to repurpose and convert into homemade candles, I find myself in meditation circles, I find myself composting, I find myself trying to refine my palette to discriminate wine fermented in oak-barrels v. stainless steel. I find myself reading 100 different topics at once and when asked what books I’ve recently read, have to confess, well, none really. Where do I find myself?
In the recognition that a) I can never again be told what it is that I should be doing (should this occur again, that I cannot take the necessity of it seriously anymore) and b) that there is no path for me to discover, only those I affirm, I am left with whatever. And whatever is both and at once maximally liberating and maximally daunting, the twin pillars of freedom and responsibility, the silent and boundless human experience that I must, by the sheer fact of existence, fill with sound and form.