Sometimes I wonder what damage those fairytales we were told as children left imprinted in our psyches. Forget the idealized yet ignorant gender norms portrayed in every romance. Forget the blind hopefulness of always waiting for a happy ending. Forget the unbridled belief in magic and myth and mystery.
Maybe there’s a deeper damage to all those Disney dreams.
I was once told all of calculus, and by extension all of mathematics, was built upon an assumption, and that should this assumption prove false, everything we know about mathematics, physics, the world as a whole would just crumble into nothingness and we would be left to flounder in a world of unknown possibilities and frightening realizations.
The truth is that was all before I became a math major and learned this is just a staple fact of axiomatic math: We make initial assumptions, build systems upon them, but acknowledge that they only hold when those foundational axioms are true. (That’s why there’s multiple geometries–such as Euclidean and hyperbolic, etc.) So the world won’t come crashing down in fire and brimstone. We just know the rules won’t always apply.
The point of any of this is not at all mathematical–but factual. Like Tolkien posited, a reader will only believe so long as the writer has sufficiently sowed a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader–the notion that, for a moment, we will ignore the rules we know in favor of the rules we wish to believe. For a brief few moments, dashing from word to word across the page, we forget that reality has bounds and for a moment become limitless.
I’ve lived my own life as both reader and writer: I’ve laid a foundation of beliefs upon basic axiomatic assumptions, and as I write these words, I fear I’m losing hold of my own willing suspension of disbelief.
I was talking with a friend the other night and lately she’s been going through some hard times. I often find I’m not much help at giving practical help, so I offer only that which I’m able to offer (an obvious tautology that’s somehow necessary to include): So I do what sometimes I do best–I listen and console and support.
As I typed out my last text, taking special care to ensure every letter appeared in the proper place and only once (I’ve dropped my phone a few times; the keyboard’s become a bit fickle), it occurred to me when I typed “See, you’re looking on the bright side already!” that simply saying there is a bright side acknowledges and presupposes the existence of a side in shadow–and when I realized that, let’s just say the world split in two.
Tonight begins Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, the commemoration of the rededication of the Temple hundreds of years ago. Normally I would light candles and celebrate with my family, but tonight that’s impossible: I’m still on campus, hung between finals, and candle-lighting isn’t exactly allowed in the dorms. (I’ve got a friend bringing me his lighter, and then I’ll at least light the candles outside.)
Since it’s been a long time since I’ve last lit any candles, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about the Pirkei Avot, I figured tonight would be the prime time to reprise both.
Life’s like a box of chocolate. Life’s like flying a kite. Life’s like a ladder. An adventure. A roller coaster. The metaphors are endless (and the metaphors are similes while we’re at it). Whether we don’t know what we’ve got till we take a bite, whether we’ve caught the wind or we’re falling from afar, whether we’re climbing over a precarious angle, forging forward to a new frontier, or simply riding the world through a series of ups and downs and one too many loops than any of us wants to go through, life’s got a lot to give us.
This post marks my two hundredth post as the Writingwolf.
My life through this point has encapsulated each of these ideas, but these last few days, they’ve been one of the wildest rides I’ve ever ridden on. Let’s just say I made it around the turn alright.
Once upon a time I met a man, a most spectacular specimen, with a mind as quicksilver and sharp as anybody’s, and we got to talking about philosophy, about truth and belief, what is real and what is merely perception. It was a provocative conversation to all extents of the imagination, and I must admit, perhaps foolishly in so public a forum as this, that the truest way to my heart is kindness and depth, and let me tell you, this man had both.
Then again, such sincerity is hard to feign, so perhaps it’s not so foolishly shared.
Regardless, such a deep conversation got me thinking, what is my personal philosophy? Do I even have one? And after some consideration, or years of consideration if you’d rather go back to when I first began to formulate the postulates of my intensities, I decided I do have a personal requiem of philosophies that I stand by. They are tenets and towers, facsimiles of faith and fiction, the philosophy of the wolf himself.
There’s a trick I’ve picked up that’s gotten me out of a few sticky situations. I’ve had a lot of leadership training, some media prep, and probably more math drills than most humans can suffice to think of let alone subject themselves to, but this trick, it’s none of the above. It’s a touch of psychology, an ounce or so of mythology, a few dashes of dreaming, and a whole lot of deceit.
But it’s not really deceit when you think about it. After all, what is the world past what we make of it? “If you build it, they will come.” If you make it, it’s yours to own. And when you own the world, there’s nothing you can’t do.
So where’s the lease, you ask? Right at your fingertips if you open your hand and reach for it.