The Greatest Unanswered Question of Science

Perhaps one of the greatest philosophical questions that has ever bugged me is “Why do we exist?” This question has been occasionally  hovering in my mind for about 10 years now (since I was in High School). Other kids were preoccupied with things that normally preoccupy a kid (LOL). By that I mean probably computer games, night outs, etc. And I was there deviated from the mainstream squeezing my little brain of something I would never figure out. I was still not acquainted with the internet back then and the library had limited philosophical materials (I presume). So every single time my weirdness as a kid struck me while I gaze into nothingness or every time I had that X-ray-vision stares that penetrated walls and everything, I was always left frustrated for not finding an answer. So anyway, getting back on the track, why is there something rather than nothing? What if there is no existence? Would it just all be black? Or white? Or none at all? How would I even visualize it (nothingness)? This whole idea of infinite nothingness, purposeless absence of everything makes me want to take my brain out of my head and burn it.

It was until I came to realize that not all ideas are “substantive”. Darkness is just the absence of light. And you cannot take out a hole from the ground, lift it up in the air and say “This is a hole”. Coldness is the absence of heat. And this idea of nothingness is just the absence of something. We cannot say there’s no apple in the box when there is an apple in the box. Nothing cannot co-exist with something. Darkness is impossible when there is light. This is because these things do not separately and independently exist in and of itself.

So now what? Does this mean that existence is an unchangeable reality after all? This hasn’t answered my question yet. So why? Why is there something rather than nothing?

It’s 5:28PM (58 minutes past official working hours) and my mind has drifted into oblivion. My brain hurts. I probably need to get up and go home. Til next time, weirdos!

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Sunsets and Silhouettes

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One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the glorious sunset. Twilight brings a distinctive atmosphere that ushers me into a trance. Spending sundown on the beach is such a wonderful way to contemplate about life in general. You could shut down from all of the worries, anxieties and fears and just savour the sublimity of the moment while the zephyr kisses your cheeks. These are the times that require no words at all. Just simply B E A U T Y.

On the other hand, it’s not all emo. There are endless possible fun things to do with the sunset. I have shared my shots for this week’s photo challenge. I am a lover of landscape photography (sky, clouds, sunrise, sunset, mountains and valleys, etc). You can check out my Instagram for more of my shots.

The Wretched Warrior

The hardness of the person’s shell represents the softness of his inside. Some people tend to be introvert to protect their vulnerable interior. This shell has been calcified through years of pain, ordeals and trauma. Scars, hardened and etched, bear each battle that he has painstakingly have fought and gone through. And like a clam, he instantly snaps his armor close as if the exposure of his inside means fighting for his life.

This shell is the only thing that separates the outside world and his fragile self. But this also disconnects him from inner joy that is ironically activated by an outer stimulus. Rigid and impenetrable, this is his defense mechanism. He rarely talks. He rarely mingles or makes friends. The world is cruel.

But when the blue moon lights up the sky, he peeks. Somewhere in his frail and lonely heart lies a hope to catch glimpses of joy outside that protective case. In very rare occasions, you may fortunately happen to witness this phenomenon, passing by him away from his armor.

There, for probably six years or so, he shakes his hand with happiness again. He lets you inside his mysterious shell. And there, you still see fresh scars, some muscles barely attached to his body, and a feeble heart that struggles to pump. Handed onto you is his key of trust. And you hear the tale of his armor. On the floor lay shattered pieces of himself that he gradually picks up each day. You see a havoc, an evidence of an unfortunate catastrophe. He is wrecked, you see.

Now he exposes himself. He expects you to help him heal. He wants you to harden him from the inside, break his shell and lead him outside. He is taking the risk. He is terrified because six years ago when the blue moon last lit up the sky, this warrior was sabotaged. He was inflicted with more wounds. His broken pieces were stepped on. After all, he still longs to mend. There is a flame of hope that never runs out. And he painfully takes each step towards that day when he will throw his shell away.

Twilight Trance

The soft and warm rays gave luster to her countenance, brightening up the smile of chapped lips it carried. A striking contrast of the backdrop of pristine waters and gentle waves made it a spectacle.

Eyes displayed the tangerine glimmer as she stared endlessly into the horizon. Wrinkles were brought to life, like I time-traveled for a score and beheld and pondered for the very first time.

These rays that bestowed this moment’s magnificence are the same rays that gave her hands’ chestnut-colored spots through the years.

Laid on her lap was her arm proudly decorated with scars of timeless service and lavish outpouring of love. To and fro, her foot tapped for its signature mannerism while her index finger wandered and doodled on the fine particles of quartz and minerals.

I wanted to witness the flash of memories that moment provoked inside the small world she was suddenly caught up to.

The sun displayed its mundane glorious dusk. Ironically, it was different during that time. Its upper-half was glistening, as if it would be its last, above the horizon that was slowly devouring. The last light seemed unwilling to pave way for the stars to twinkle, like summer leaves not wanting to fall.

My mother’s gaze finally lost the last beam. Please take care of your niece when I’m gone. Into the silence, we were stilled by her last remark. Like nothing happened, we all mindlessly stood and headed for the beach hut to spend the night.

Evanescent Existence and Midnight Solitude

You’re alone and you’re still up on the wee-hours – a perfectly conducive circumstance for your pre-sleep ritual. You lay down on your bed and you’re just there with eyes fixed on the ceiling or head covered with the cold side of the pillow. You start making up scenarios in your mind – your plans, your could’ve-beens. You direct a mini-movie with a loved one where you dictate the dialogue. You’re in control of all that’s happening. At times, you end up contemplating about life in general; varying every night within the wide spectrum of life’s more significant affairs.

My hands are itching to write about this bothersome reality that has been preying on our minds from time to time. Something beyond human control. Those times when we witness (or just avoided) an accident, when we comfort a friend who lost a loved one, when we’re too stressed out and we end up questioning what is it really all about that we scramble too much and chase after worldly stuffs when someday we’re gonna leave ’em all anyway, or when we’re enjoying the family time and suddenly we ask ourselves until when are we gonna enjoy the bliss of having them all around us. This thing sometimes veils itself behind our fears; Fear of getting infected with this new strain of virus, fear of being in the next to-be-hijacked plane, fear of the darkness, the depths of the oceans, wars and rumors of war, even fear of things that don’t exist and a whole other bunch of paranioa-induced imaginary things.

You start to be health-conscious. You take precautionary measures. You keep yourself vigilant and informed. You’re not alone. Science is in pursuit of immortality or at least pushing life expectancy higher – cryogenics, high-pressure oxygen chambers, advanced medical technologies, reinforced cave or underground dwellings – name it all. Eventually, everyone will be weary, and then you realize how fragile and vulnerable life is. Even in the absence of external determinants – accident-causing mechanical failures, terrorists, lightning bolts and super typhoons, among others – internally, you do not have any sort of assurance whatsoever that you’re gonna be around tomorrow or even in the next few seconds. You start to think about the things that you have done. You start thinking about your family, the remaining days of your parents and how are you gonna compensate the time unspent together. You start to think about all the people close to your heart. What if they suddenly stop existing? or what if you suddenly stop existing? You start to think of where are you really sailing your ship, what kind of footprint are you gonna leave, what are you really after for and what happens when everything comes to pass. All of these stuffs point to a common bottomline – Death.

We are not really afraid of getting sick, we’re afraid of dying because of the sickness. We’re not afraid of getting into a flight headed for a dive in the ocean, we’re afraid that we’re bound for a 0.0002%-chance plane crash death. We’re not really afraid of the ocean deep, but of what’s in it and what is it gonna do to take away our lives. We’re not afraid of the dark, but of someone or something in there that’s gonna drag our feet and devour us. We’re not afraid of war, but of dying from a stray bullet or a grenade thrown at our very own front yard. All of these things have the same salient point – our fear of dying. From a typical mindset, this is kinda terrifying reality that we all have to face. Picturing either ourselves or a loved one in that situation, it’s a terrifying thought for us. Death is just lurking around the corner. It’s scythe is only a few millimeters above our necks while we’re asleep. Nobody stays. This is one of those absolute rules where there is no exemption. Whether we die and decay or taken by a chariot of fire straight to the heavens, we don’t get an eternal residence permit on this planet.

The 24th of March, 2014, marked the presumption of death of the 239 people on-board the ill-fated MH370 flight. Along with them, around 150,000 other people from the rest of the planet faced the sting of physical death on that same day. This statistics includes the English author John Rowe Townsend, a Ukrainian activist, a Brazilian guitarist, an American illustrator, and probably a few ordinary and historically insignificant people from my and your hometown. All lived different lives and gave varied contributions. All died in an ordinary day. This is an everyday truth. It’s just that only the unusual and personal tragedies have more significance to us. Hence, we react differently. The famous and the ordinary eventually pass away – in published and unpublished manners. Everyone is as ephemeral as a wave tossed in the ocean.

What are we doing, by the way? Establishing our security from our soaring career and high-paid jobs, strong foundation and walls of our three-storey residence, bank accounts, what else? We resolve into these reasons to give solace to ourselves by obscuring away the fact that life is indeed fragile and that certain things are beyond our control.

When all is said and done, these aren’t the things that will matter. When my whole family was watching a sunset on the beach during my birthday, I remember my mother seeing herself as the setting sun and her whole life suddenly flashing before her eyes. She realized she’d be gone soon and told me to take care of Ishi. On the opposite face of the planet, probably some rich man on his death bed had also been making sure his family is in good situation before he leaves this world. One day, at the twilight of our lives when we are too weak to engage ourselves with the things that temporarily steal our minds from the opportunities to contemplate, we will be left to face the question of what things should have been prioritized, who do we want to have been remembered as, or what purpose should have been fulfilled by our existence.