I had my share of fears as a child. This was due to the relationship between two occurrences: one, my mother imbued me with an incredible amount of empathy, and two, I was introduced to scary movies and literature. My poor young mind. If I saw a movie where someone got poisoned, I’d think “this could happen to me!”. This would happen with all types of murder, robbery, poisonous insects, and the like. At first my only defense against these imaginary foes was to be the imaginary hero, just like in the movies and books. I was constantly on my guard, checking behind me for people sneaking up on me, always looking and the ceiling and floor for insects or other hidden enemies which could be lying in wait. I’d lie in bed, trying be on guard as I fell asleep in case anyone would break in through my window. I even passed through many phases when I couldn’t drink anything before my mom had taste-tested it for me from the same glass which I was to drink out of (sorry mom I totally valued your life too).
If that sounds bad, it was far from the worst. I actually spent many years fighting mental spies. This generally occurred in the bath or the shower, when my mind had the most time to wander. It actually happened every single day when I’d wash my hair in the bath for a span of about 2-3 years. I’d play the same game. There were evil people who could hear my thoughts, and if they correctly guessed when I’d do things, I’d die. Every day I had to trick them as to the exact moment when I’d put shampoo in my hair, the moment when I’d stop rubbing. I’d make them think I stopped, and then rub once more. Sometimes I’d have to hide my thoughts from them; essentially I’d try and not think about what I was doing. Every once and a while I’d trick them by telling them exactly what I was going to do. It was madness. I knew it was. I knew it was the dumbest thing ever as I was doing it. This isn’t to say that I was terrified of washing my hair. I knew that if I was diligent I would win every time, because I was of course the best and smartest at everything. As I got older, I started to tell the evil people in my head exactly what I’d do every day to prove to myself that nothing would happen and they didn’t exist. More on that later.
As I was exposed to more and more media, I read and saw many sci-fi works, including The Matrix, and stories where aliens were the ancient gods, and where wormholes and alternate dimensions existed, like Star Trek. One particular movie which struck me was one which we watched during one of the joke days at the end of a year (probably grade 9) in High School, “The Truman Show”, which was about a man who gradually finds out that his life is a reality show. Unfortunately, the other kids hated it so much that we switched to another movie, and I never saw the end, but the movie marked me. Every time I came across one of these stories, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why couldn’t this be true? Why couldn’t it be real?” And indeed to this day I can find no reason why we could not be living in the matrix, or my life couldn’t be a TV show. My paranoid mind of course got me thinking of other crazy ideas. Why couldn’t I be the only real person? Why couldn’t I be some lab rat and there were aliens testing my every reaction? I could write a blog just on my the ideas which I seriously considered, in-depth. I again grew paranoid – I didn’t want to be tricked about my existence! I imagined everyone in on the truth of life except for me, all laughing at me. I realized almost immediately that I knew NOTHING for a fact. It took me slightly longer to realize that there’s no point worrying about that. I’m limited by the senses and the knowledge given to me. It’s impossible for me to see or know anything beyond that. And even if it is possible, like in The Truman Show, looking for it and thinking about it would just ruin the enjoyment of the life that I have. And since these other possibilities of life are SO much less likely than the once which I can actually touch and feel and experience, I might as well accept it, and not worry myself with anything else. Of course this is impossible for me to do completely, and I often still think along this train of thought. But never seriously or for too long.
Then one day someone introduced to me the famous saying “I think therefore I am”. While I paid little attention to who said it or why, I decided immediately that It made perfect sense. I could not imagine a way in which I could think without existing, but I could imagine a way for everything else to be false, if I stretched my mind enough. But at the same time, I was sick of worrying about such things, and so my next theory of life was finalized: “Anything is possible. All I know for a fact is that I exist, but there’s no point worrying about that, because honestly, thats quite useless and dumb.” I have since used this theory/reprimand to yank my paranoia out of my skull. It is possible that there’s poison in my glass. For someone to kill me would be both so easy for them and so unlikely to occur that the only thing worrying about it could accomplish is to ruin my enjoyment of life. Yes I could be on some alien TV show, yes there could be people spying on my thoughts, but why bother? There’s no embarrassment living and enjoying life through the limited senses with which I was given.
It was two years ago when I finally came across Rene Descartes famous text in a class. I remember being completely shocked that someone else thought in the same way as me! I saw myself clearly in his reasoning for “I think, therefore I am”. However not all is similar. I reject his proof that God exists, since unfortunately Descartes had no concept of evolution. Nor do I agree that certain shapes, even triangles must exist, even in concept. I could imagine that my mind is so sick and uncoordinated that I could even misjudge the fact that all angles of a triangle must equal 180 degrees. I still greatly respect him and his ideas, however.
I feel as if what I have written makes me seem crazy, akin perhaps to some conspiracist or something. And yet it is these very thoughts which keep me sane, and give me the veil of normalcy. Anyways, what does normal even mean? Is it a state of being? Or more a collection of behaviors and ideas which people aren’t afraid to exhibit? Maybe everyone thinks like me, and just doesn’t share it. I cannot know, I do not know your minds like you now know mine. For you to decide.