Isn’t it so interesting, that of the people we are kind to; often ourselves is not one of them?
How often, would you say that you can look at the accomplishments of others, and revere in astonishment, and yet upon self-reflection, you appear to see nothing to remark on the path behind you?
Even when others praise your accomplishments – or perhaps even simply your character – still there is a fog of doubt which seems to rarely clear. And so although you have done so many things, and many things right, it would appear to you that you have done nothing at all.
Perhaps next time you look at the person staring at you behind the glass, you should see them as others do; without the filter of you.
Suppose that in ten million years, humanity has been long wiped off the face of the planet. Some life still remains, but it has regressed to a more primitive state, due to some cataclysmic event, caused by our own iniquity, or some element of chance.
No animal that could understand the basics of calculus has existed on the rock called Earth for a very long time.
When one day, entirely by chance, our no longer blue planet is discovered, by some nomadic civilisation, who managed to achieve travel into the stars without using that same technology to blow each themselves up. In the ruins alone, under the assumption that concrete has eroded into mere particles that blew in the wind, and pages from books lost their ink; this civilisation would be able to piece together very little of what we were. Even if somehow some homestead had managed to endure the withering of time – if it had been cocooned in a blanket of ice, for instance; where would you even begin to understand what objects were?
A slab of metal and glass filled with silicon lines, in the corner of a room, where every piece of furniture is pointed at it. Knives and forks on the dinner table, for fighting no doubt. Window frames on the second floor, because we could jump so high, and often used that for quick access. Cloth in wooden containers, powdered energy in glass jars, animal carcasses in large white frozen boxes. It would be a frightening world of guesswork without a basis by which to guess. Everyone has had that experience of trying to tell a story, that was funny at the time, but after telling it out loud you find the other person does not find it so. Think of this, except not only do you not speak the same language, but you share no history, no culture, no prospects, no allegiances, and perhaps not even the same galaxy.
Now let’s suggest that humanity as a collective decides that the idea of a future civilisation discovering our remains and not being able to fabricate who we were is just too harsh a thought to bare. So they decide to devise a solution to this, or at least to devise a means in which to help these future nomads. And as a collective, they have decided to accept applications from anyone on the planet, and accept any ideas anyone on the planet may have on how best to communicate with the future visitors.
The problem then becomes the focus of this article: How do you communicate with these visitors? How do you construct a language, without barometer? In our own world, translations of works are inherently different to the language in which they were originally written, mainly because there is no word which translates over 100% – but at least we have something by which we can vaguely relate it to. But with an alien visitor -you don’t even have a set of words, objects, animals, or plants, by which you could guarantee you share. Not only this, but you cannot even predict the senses this alien might use to perceive the world around them. It is not enough to suggest you could communicate in a language that is a concatenation of a number of languages that are most frequently used or most expressive; because you cannot guarantee this creature has ears. Or perhaps they do but do not hear in the same frequency as we do. Perhaps you wish to communicate in symbols? – Well it has taken us thousands of years to build up semiotics to the point we can look at something and register to which category it belongs to at a glance, and even now most humans struggle with all of them, they differ in time and they differ from culture to culture. Equally, as before, the visiting nomads may not have eyes. Or if they do, maybe they do not see colour in the same range that we do. Lets say that they do have eyes – well what do they even register as a note? Say they looked at English at a glance, they could interpret the white space between the letters as the symbols rather than the letters themselves.
The possibilities are near endless for interpretation. This would be fair to say of something that came from our planet, or even our galaxy. But this could be a visitor that we may not even recognise as intelligent life, and yet regardless, it is. So much so that it had travelled through the stars to find us.
Furthermore then, we have an obligation to protect intelligent life as best as we can. To avoid any kind of pain and anguish where we can. If something can intelligent understand the universe and perceive its own consciousness, it must be our responsibility to ensure it.
It is important then to have this discussion – say we are aware of what brought about our destruction. It is our obligation then, to warn these visitors of the dangers we could not avoid. Perhaps areas of contamination, physical or otherwise, should be left in the past and certain technologies either avoided or proceeded with caution. The question being, how do we do this?
How would you communicate to something that may not even perceive the world in the same way that you do? And on a more personal note… Would you? Would you personally make an application to share your thoughts on how best to do this?
Arguably our only efforts to communicate without language thus far, is music. For thousands of years, we have communicated celebration, happiness, fear and war to others through music. No lyrics required to communicate exactly how we feel. Perhaps this would be our best bet to begin. Perhaps the sound of children laughing, the rain forest, or the ocean reaching the shoreline. The times at which we as a species were most at peace.
But then, while this may provide an example of our environment – it doesn’t necessarily define who we were or are. When we were good or bad. When we loved, and when we hated.
If we continue on a scientific trend – would we leave behind a hologram of a child as an ark of information, to provide context to who we were? Would this be the most realistic option, to convey our messages of peace in as many images and as many words as we possibly could? Could this child hold out a hand, with the bumps on his hand spelling in braille, and his words echoed in every other language, and Morse code? Would what the child spoke even resonate on any parallel? Should we literally throw sounds and light in some form of pattern, and hope that something sticks? Data dump our history and languages in as many different patterns as possible? Perhaps an AI, that can use everything that we are currently to determine what COULD be encountered in the future? Statistically, this is probably necessary. As much as they would like to earn us, we may need to learn it first, in the form of some machine learning. To discuss topics not only do we not understand yet, but we may never even have encountered in our cosmically short lifespan.
What if we decided that we wanted to communicate, only that which we wanted to communicate. I.e. perhaps we would wish to leave out the horrid parts of our history, or tell much more embellished versions of it in myth, legend, and art rather than the much more hard to swallow science and objectivity. If we were to do that, how could we separate semantics from pragmatism? To say very clearly what is, and not what we meant to say. This applies to our language, and also our visualisation of our culture. Say we built, or painted, or sculpted a grand cathedral, and hid it in some frozen ark – we may try to convey how complex and grandiose we were in our architectural choice – only to find that our visitor friends interpret the use of space as inefficient. They may regard our distinct lack of compactness instead, as a sign we were not intelligent whatsoever. That we were too wasteful. Perhaps then, they would be right.
The questions are endless, and arguably you could discuss for the millions of years we are hypothetically wiped out discussing what we could and should do – if and when we should – why and where we should. In fact, this question, which its infinite possibilities seems to grand a task to bestow upon us, and too great a burden to endure.
But if something is important enough, you must always try. Even if the expected outcome, is failure.
However; the question remains: Would you? And if so, how? How would you begin to construct a language to speak beyond the stars, without barometer?
It is irritatingly easy to focus on that which you did not accomplish, rather than that which you did. While you may not feel you need a round of applause for getting out of bed in the morning, relatively if you were experiencing a severe period of depression – getting out of bed actually does merit fanfare.
But obviously – you normally do this every single day, and so much more, regarding it simply as second nature. You don’t ever appreciate all that you do, because you expect yourself to do it.
It is important then to remember, that you – are incredible. Every single day you bring yourself to get up – and try. There is nothing to suggest you HAVE to try. You could simply not. There is genuinely nothing stopping you. Barriers you have placed there yourself may lead you to believe you cannot stop and give up, but you obviously could.
Say you mention to yourself, “I cannot give up today, because I have to get the kids ready for school.” or “I cannot give up today, because there is so much work to do.” or even, “I cannot give up today, because I need to support my partner.”
Of course you COULD give up. You’re just not going to. You’re going to get up, and be incredible, without even realising how amazing you are. You, are a champion, because every single day, no matter what happens – you keep going. The river does not shape the landscape because of its power, but its persistence. You can shape the land. You determine the future. You persist, for one reason alone – because you are a champion. Life has yet to beat you, even once.
Sometimes the day beats you, and that’s not good. Sometimes many days gang up on you, countless days even, and bring you to new depths. But regardless, unique you, keeps on going. You shake off your muscles, and your mind, and you keep climbing upwards.
Even if it doesn’t feel like you do this, you do. A bit like the family smell that has lingered around you for so long you no longer know its there – you too have been so fantastic for so long, that you have forgotten that you are. So take a moment. Breathe. Appreciate you, for all that you’re worth. Give yourself a break.
And remember, you; are a champion.
The first thing you should do in the morning, is make your bed.
By making your bed, you have ensured that regardless of what happens for the rest of the day to come, you have achieved something. It matters not the size of the task; only that you completed it.
It starts your day off with momentum to complete other tasks, and if the day decides to overwhelm you, you can guarantee that you can return home to a soft comfortable bed.
Begin to apply this to everything.
Make a reservation. Not because you require planning to control or to run your life; but because planning begat spontaneity. If you make a reservation in six days time, you are under no obligation to keep it. But what it does provide you with is an option, to make yourself or someone else very happy. It allows you to be free and easy, and have one extra back up option in your pocket. It provides a fail-safe, a winter contingency, that should all else fair, you have a net.
Write your reports, file your documents. Not because you enjoy doing these monotonous things, but because they apply weight on your mind. They take up ANY amount of physical space in your brain, which could be put to much better use.
Clean your living spaces. Not because the smell of ammonia stirs something within you, but because if anything were to happen in the day that provides excitement and a potential for a good memory, you should be able to focus all attention to that at the drop of a hat, and have nothing providing an obstacle to it. If you need assistance in making this particular one a habit, invite your crush or significant other over regularly. Nothing compels you to clean more, than the thought of the embarrassment of someone you’re in love with seeing your messy space.
But if all of these fail; if in fact you did not do that which you had planned, you let the day best you, and the majority of your tasks went untouched or unfinished. Do not worry.
You can return home, and go to bed. It will be ready, made, waiting for you.
In the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The small details, are by far the most important.”
The wrinkle at the edges of someone’s smile. The dimples on their cheeks, or the softness of their skin. Perhaps you like how you can trace the edges of your finger around their body, and imagine a perfect silhouette left behind on a canvas. Maybe you enjoy hearing them sigh, just because they are happy to be lying against your chest.
Maybe you enjoy watching steam roll off of a fresh cup of coffee, or how your fingers feel as you drag them against glass with condensation on one side. The squeaky sound that makes, and how your fingers jump a little. Perhaps its the other side of the pillow, on a warm night in July.
Whatever it is that you enjoy, no matter how trivial you imagine it to be – celebrate it. Hold it in reverence. Dance about it in your living room, when no one is about. These are little victories. Little times when the universe conspired to brighten your day, in some way that maybe only you find appealing.
The big victories do not come often. While you will have spells of doing well and achieving great things seemingly all at once; you must equally understand that a great portion of your time will also be spent where nothing big is particularly going right at all. But this does not mean for this length of time, you should not sing and cheer, and kick puddles in the street. Instead – learn to understand that a collection of small is worth just as much as the grand.
If you’re looking for something bigger – consider looking a little closer at what makes it whole.
Love someone, not for what they are, but what makes them what they are.
Treasure something, for the intricacies that make it, rather than some arbitrary value assigned to the fact of possessing it.
Most importantly; appreciate, and value that it is happening now; rather than missing it when it is no longer there. Adore them for what they are, and be grateful for their presence, when they could decide for whatever reason to be absent from your life. If you don’t, what you’ll find (and this can be guaranteed with confidence) is that when something goes away, or someone leaves your life; you will not miss them – you will miss the small details that made them.
For it is the small details, that are by far the most important.
Your memory is the rationality, by which your reason is based upon.
Everything that you are; is a result of that which you have experienced up to this point in your life. Perhaps you are not a trusting person, because at no point have you ever been provided with a reason to trust someone. Perhaps that trust always been broken in heart-aching ways; unfaithful partners, unloving parents, gossiping friends – and so as a result, you have no reasonable discourse for attempting to form a bond of trust with anyone.
Equally, perhaps you are a very trusting person because of these things happening to you, and so you understand how important trust is to you in your life, and will only surround yourself with people whom you feel will share a similar passion for loyalty and integrity.
To say which of these you would become if similar things happened to you is trying; because these decisions too are based on some rationality from all your previous decisions and experiences, and so on.
No one, just is. There is no whole without the sum of the parts which form it.
You can use this as a way to empathise with others, whom you believe harbour difficult to understand or difficult to agree with opinions. Perhaps someone maintains particularly racist, or homophobic views – it may be because their entire childhood consisted of expression of opinions of an old generation, whom had opinions that were based on misconceptions, fear, ignorance, or a lack of education. Perhaps, instead, they wrongfully correlated a problem in society to a particular niche of people, just by simple human error, rather than maliciousness. Perhaps a misinterpretation of data, or a personal experience which skewed their thinking.
It does not necessarily mean the person who believes these things is bad, or wishes bad upon people who fall under one of these scopes, but just that they lack an education on why those thoughts and feelings are either objectively incorrect, or subjectively harmful to a larger, peace-driven society.
Perhaps if you take time to educate people, you will remove the aforementioned ignorance – rather than getting yourself hot and bothered and into a shouting match with someone, normally behind a keyboard. If someone shouts “Fatty!” to someone from a car, it has never convinced them to lose weight, it has only darkened their day. So don’t be that kind of person.
Remember, everything that has ever happened, has happened as a result of the events that came before it. The spark began the fire, the rock begat the mountain. Just do not assume that every rock you find, means that one day a mountain will form in its stead. Equally do not decide that it could not. memories can be difficult; keep them. Somewhere. In the back of your mind. From time to time revisit them. While there are memories that sometimes you may wish could disappear, they won’t. They did happen, and they brought about you that you are today. They will be in the you that you are tomorrow. So instead, think what effect a time passed might have had on you.
Maybe you snap too quickly at people, and you can find why that may be, and begin to deal with it. Perhaps you’re not as romantic to your partner as you once were, so remind yourself of why you fell in love with them, and reunite with romance.
Most importantly, begin making new memories. Positive ones. Experiences that help you to grow, to learn, to be passionate, and to love; so that in time, when you look reflectively at yourself, this will be your point of rationale. If we are what we do habitually, make it so. If you’re lucky, at some point on an idle Sunday, you will reflect on yourself and see that you have become that person you tried so hard to be, by doing.
That everything you did, in what will then be called your past, was positive – because you made a conscious effort to take the baby steps that would form you into the person you become.
Because if you’re trying to unlock who you really are; memory is the key.
No matter what you’re doing in your life at the minute, no matter how busy your day appears to be, or how much furrows your brow each day – take sixty guilt free minutes; for yourself.
You, are as important as anything else on your plate at the minute. To handle all the things you consider important, you must first maintain that which allows any of it to be dealt with. Or even thought about and decisions considered.
Don’t feed the negativity, and the burden of the world. By feeding it, it only grows stronger, more confident, and more ferocious. It will visit more often, Pavlovian. Instead, feed creativity. Intelligence. Feed passion, love, and kindness. Feed selflessness, motivation, and self improvement. If nothing else, feed relaxation.
You deserve a warm bath. A hot chocolate. Your feet resting up against the table, with something wrapped around your body to keep your heat. You deserve your favourite song playing over the hot of a candle at night.
You deserve kind words from friends and loved ones. You deserve hobby which drives you, regardless of what end becomes of it or its futility.
It’s very easy to get caught up in it all; to wholeheartedly believe you should receive the full weight of burden that taxes you every day, and yet require no rejuvenation. And while that sounds convenient, and very noble; It isn’t. It isn’t brave to struggle, for the sake of it, to endure hardship without reward. It’s just sadism. Or masochism depending on your inclination.
It’s mental flagellation – and your mind deserves better than that, because it allows everything you are, and how beautifully unique you are, to even take place and be perceived. Even if you get mad with yourself, disappointed, or even just a little disillusioned, remember you are absolutely astonishing.
Talk to a friend, or even better someone who will listen. They can remind you of that fact. They can remind you that life has been continuing outside of all that hinders you from sleep at night, and make larger objects in the mirror appear smaller than you might have thought. They can remind you that life will be okay, and whatever obstacles you considered large, are now long forgotten. So you can relax knowing that whatever stresses you out now, too will pass. In fact, you can take that as the one certainty in a world of anxiety. It will pass.
There is no once else like you, for every nuance of yourself. For small details you do not even notice in yourself, but that a poet would spot in a heartbeat, and write a sonnet without your knowing.
Relax. Be you.
Take sixty minutes. And between us, we’ll call it maintenance.