Flying in the air, over little houses set in trees and rivers, tall buildings stacked together in clumps, bridges sitting on still, silver water, with ripples creating visible orbular patterns, it’s easy to ponder the prospect of an intelligent design. We are curious and intriguing little specks moving around and molding the earth so greatly. We are beautiful from above, coming and going, making shapes and patterns out of the rough plain earth. We are like diamonds shimmering, bejeweling the monotonous land. We are the manifestation of the riches of this world.
There is something about the proximity of people on planes that makes you keenly aware of the fact that we are organic creatures, if not simply animals. Something in the way you smell others’ flesh; how you smell various real smells; smells we as humans are taught to find unsavory and suppress or sense with disdain; these smells bring one back to the reality that as much as the mind tries to mold and control the world, we cannot even control our own physical bodies. And, moreover, the thought of our bodily masses speeding together through time and space makes us one and yet dispersed. Does this flow of energy effect our bodies and minds, or is our accumulated matter so absolute that it is entirely unaffected?
Do you ever get the extreme impetus to help others but something stops you, whether it be the will to do something for yourself or the simple reasoning that doing so would run contrary to your own personal needs? People are made to feel guilty for not helping others, and yet we are also accustomed to ignoring the plight of others and diffusing responsibility.
Helping others can be constructive, because the functioning of the world relies on it. However, it can be harmful as well because it teaches people to subordinate their needs in the face of some vague sense of a greater good or an appearance of goodness; when, in fact, it is actually the conscience of the individual that is the true judge and condemner. It is not the stranger, who might notice the slight of kindness, grumble, and move on, thinking not another thought of it, or either they’d not notice at all, at this point expecting the cold treatment of others, having become accustomed to it in the present age.
Either way, I cannot determine whether it is better to suit an altruistic, guilty conscience or shrug the weight of guilt and live a purely self-centric, egoistic existence where the own will is valued supremely. If we all lived lives by our will, would the world be better because all would be reaching out and grabbing what he needs, fulfilling himself so that he can potentially give excess to others? Or would such an existence make the world a cold place, where one is confronted with only blank or grimacing faces, where everyone’s needs, desires, and worries are shared with no one, where, essentially everyone is, in fact, alone? Do we merely fool ourselves or repress this truth by attempting to believe in another reality? Or are we truly connected to one another at a psychic, cerebral, or even cellular level such that we are perpetually intertwined and affect the sum of the whole with even our small parts?
I understand the skeptic look of distrust from one who has been hurt by freely giving trust, or the the quick, cold diversion of eyes in passing from one who has been used by giving; but when a kindness is freely given to me, or I see one’s appreciative surprise when I give kindness freely to another, then those are the moments when I know that we are all connected and that one cannot love or shun another without doing the same to one’s own soul.
Yet curiously and on the other hand, when I was in the crowded, touristy Pike Place Market today in Seattle, with the menagerie of people, dirty streets, fish and cheese smells, and cacophony of raucous noises, it made me anything but want to be nice to others. After a while it was overbearing. I started to feel dirty, annoyed, and nauseous. It made me want to either start pushing people or just simply get away and be alone. So I supposed I am as lost and often miserable as everyone else.