Sunday, 21 December 2014

Oblivion, Irrelevance and Other Things You May or May Not Fear

“There will come a time” I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought will be forgotten and all of this” – I gestured encompassingly – “will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that is what everyone else does.”

The above is a passage from the book I cannot shut up about – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was the first thing Hazel-Grace (The MC) said to Augustus Waters (The other MC) (MC means Main Character.) It was at a cancer support group, and Augustus Waters was asked a question by Patrick (Patrick asks the questions.) The question, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most important questions in life: What are you fears?

Augustus Waters’ reply was that his fear was ‘Oblivion.’ To which Hazel-Grace gave him a piece of her mind which we saw in the first paragraph. Was she right? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
A whole lot of people fear oblivion, I am one of them but I do not fear oblivion as much as I fear irrelevance. I think what Augustus Waters meant by ‘Oblivion’ was dying without haven achieved anything, without leaving footprints on sand. Dying and not being missed except by one’s family and friends. It all hinges upon dying, as far as I know.
Irrelevance, however, is more or less the same thing but it does not hinge upon dying, it hinges upon living. Frankly, I don’t care what happens after I die, I don’t care if I am remembered or not. I care what happens while I live. I want to know that I have or I am touching a life, in one way or another. I fear irrelevance because irrelevance means you have wasted the time that God has given you here on earth; it means you have allowed yourself to flow like the waters in the river, uselessly. It means that at the end of the day, your whole existence was attached only to its immense pointlessness and nothing else. That the idea of your existence was only existent to you and your immediate family, nobody else was touched by your existence. We all need to fear irrelevance, to dread it even, if we do, perhaps the world will be a better place.

Hazel-Grace’s reply to Augustus was in some ways defeatist. Yes, we are all going to die, perhaps the sun will collapse eventually and its immense heat will seethe our skins and burn us all to our deaths. Maybe there will be no one left to remember Aristotle and Cleopatra, maybe all of this – gesturing encompassingly- will eventually be worth naught: all our buildings, all our writings, all our thoughts from all our beautifully designed minds. Perhaps there was time before organisms existed; perhaps there will be time after. But none of these mean that we should all fold our beautifully designed arms and wait for the sun to get bored of the sky and come to seethe us. We shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives because of the inevitability of doom. Is doom even inevitable? You want to be the judge of that? 

Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!

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