The brain is only so powerful because it chose to put other parts first; because it gave up its voice that others may speak freely. It is what it is because it chose to be nothing for others to be worth something. It makes absolutely no sense. It violates the very logic upon which we were weaned. Can it be coincidence that we come into the world with clenched fists and leave with palms sprawled out? Could it be that the highest form of enlightenment is to seek a centre outside one’s self?
It took many years after that to understand how the brain works. It aggregates and processes everything from everywhere else, but shows itself no regards. It feels everyone else’s pain – everyone except itself. It didn’t make any sense; it still doesn’t. How could something so pivotal have such a fundamental blind-spot? How can an entity ignore itself? At first, it seemed like a design flaw. Then, I realized that that very ‘flaw’ is what makes the brain the body’s Czar. Other organs may fail; the heart may cease – but life goes on until the brain retires.
Growing up, I remember seeing a documentary of Joni Eareckson’s horror accident, paralysis and rehabilitation. Questions flooded my mind; it was quite a lot to take in at that age. One seemingly insignificant thing I recall from the movie is that she was wide awake during the brain surgery. I could never understand that.
Have you ever been asked how to put a giraffe in a freezer? I hope your first answer was a lot better than mine. Simple as the question is, it highlights the fact that we are inherently exaggerated; defaulting easily to grandeur! Why can’t we find peace in the simple? Why is it so hard to imagine that zero could be more powerful than a billion? What if logic as we have come to know it were flawed? Why do we read forward a script that runs backwards? Why do the dots of [a forward] life only connect backwards? Why did JamalMalik’s excruciating past only start to make sense when he got on the hot seat? Why do we, sometimes, learn more from failure than success?
They say nothing lasts forever. We take it to mean it’ll all end sooner or later. That our labours and triumphs – all we strive to become or achieve – will fade with our last breath. It’s true, but only because we see it so. What if reality were slightly different? What if the statement actually means “only as nothing can we last forever”? What if it’s a subtle reminder that in order to be anything of note, we must strive to be nothing? My English isn’t yet good enough to tell humility from meekness – but I remember a certain “blessed are the meek”. I recall, also that the one who said it gave up everything to become nothing and now lives forever. What if the world’s greatest number was actually ‘zero’? What if the way up is actually to stoop low? What if common sense were a farce? By what metrics do we even measure power?
What one number is powerful enough to make nothing of a trillion? What do we all overlook yet secretly crave more of? How much joy do we feel when our ten becomes a hundred, and our thousand a million? What number can turn everything on its head by merely showing up? What if all we seek is summed up in the spurious ineptitude of zero?
If you had to pick the most powerful number known to man, what would your answer be? What is that one number that all else should aspire to? Would you go the default route and pick as close to a billion trillion as possible? Would you follow instinct or defy logic?
I hope, by now, you’ve realized that the real story starts here and reads backwards? In the end, we find the beginning; we always do! Nothing may ever make sense until that moment. We’re not in a one-off dash. We’re in an unending mix of sprints and marathons, dovetailing one into another in a sequence too simple for our minds to follow. The end of one is only the beginning of another. The pain in one is the lesson for another. The outcast in one is the hero of another. Maybe the cipher would be easier to read if our eyes faced backwards. It’s an absolute marvel, the [hidden] logic of our lives; how the seed must first die before it can live. How we may never understand the paths we walk until we look back. How sometimes, to achieve more, we only need to do less. Nothing makes sense; but sense itself is little more than we make of it.
Specially dedicated to all who have devoted their lives to finding answers to impossible questions.