Memoir: Top Goal

 

“That’s it. There is no God. While I cannot be absolutely sure, I believe religion is something that humans made up. There is no meaning to life.”

These were the conclusions I silently came to on that fateful day—fishing together with my Dad under a bridge crossing Lake Houston on a hot and humid summer’s day in Texas.

On the way home, in back of my Dad’s yellow ‘67 El Camino (a car-truck hybrid), I started to cry. The conclusions I came to were undeniable. I cried the entire ride home. The deep meaning of my conclusions was too strong for my thirteen-year-old mind to bear.

Of course, when we got to my Dad’s house, I stopped my crying and wiped my tears away so that no one would see. I felt I could not approach either my stepmother or, worse, my father with these thoughts, which seemed much too abstract for such practically minded people. However, whenever I was alone, my thoughts would turn to my analysis and its conclusions, and my crying would continue.

After a month of this relentless crying, with no end in sight, I decided that I had to do something. My conclusions, no matted how hard I tried, I could not refute. Worse, they were inescapable; it seemed they were going to torture and ruin the rest of my life. I came upon a plan to not think about my conclusions—to force them from my mind. Whenever they approached, I would rush my mind to something else, anything else, with an intensity so strong as to make me forget whatever I was just thinking of. I had a great desire to not return to those mental doldrums from which I had found only one escape. Through the pain associated with my conclusions, I learned this trick well. And I became its master.

My strategy appeared to work; I went on being the generally happy kid that I was before. Little did I know that this event was the turning point that would eventually lead me to my life’s ultimate project—a project that I would have never had the audacity to attempt until it became clear to me what I was doing, halfway through its draft.

It was only when I was twenty-two, two years after my brother’s suicide, that I became curious enough about that time I cried for a month straight to really concentrate on it, to try to remember what it was all about. I could remember the crying, the pain, the method I found to rid myself of that pain. But, I could not at all remember what I was crying about. The mystery struck me. Over the next two weeks, I intermittently concentrated on that event, trying to remember. Finally, almost like a phantom, my old conclusions slowly and subtly revealed themselves to me.

I thought, “No, it couldn’t be just that.” Those conclusions had since become part of my core belief system. Apparently, the conclusions that had so overwhelmed me when I was thirteen came back to me, slowly, at a pace I could reasonably handle during my adolescence. In fact, by this time, I had gone much farther in my life philosophies. I went beyond being able to answer my old questions: Where did I come from? What is the meaning behind religion? Why am I here? What is my purpose?

And now I felt I could satisfactorily (at least for myself) answer the following questions as well: Why do I have the feelings and drives that I do? Will my consciousness live on after I die? Why do humans think so differently from one another? Can I trust my apparent reality? Does destiny exist?

However, later that year, I felt that the development of my life philosophies had stagnated. Trying to answer the big questions in life had only seemed to consume a huge portion of my life’s energy without obviously making everyday living any better. Further, no one in history appeared to have satisfactorily found the answers to the big questions in life. If so, I surmised, everybody would probably know them; there would be a book everybody could read. What chance would I have to answer such questions if so many people, many of them absolute geniuses, had previously failed? With these thoughts in hand, I was now building up to reuse an old pattern: I would most likely—by far—never find such answers either; I should stop wasting my time thinking about life and just concentrate on living it. And I did just that.

However, as is also apparently a pattern of mine, my time off was not sincere—my analysis of life and reality subtly continued. My theories broadened and refined, but just more slowly and moderately paced than were my long periods of concentration that I would have previously employed. Perhaps with such big questions and how potentially meaningful the answers can be, my mind refused to not occasionally drift into their analysis.

Many years later, at age thirty, while talking to somebody about my life’s philosophies, I realized how far I had come. I actually felt kind of close to satisfactorily answering most of my big questions. As strange as it might sound, I felt I had mainly figured out life. However, there were still some big questions that I could not satisfactorily answer. The most critical of which was the question of how I got into my head. The analysis of this question seemed strange because I could understand other humans and their consciousness, even myself and mine from an outside perspective. However, from my own perspective, how in the world could I have possibly been so lucky as to actually be, not my hand, not my body, but my actual consciousness? This question baffled me.

Less than a year later, I found myself in what seemed like an unrecoverable spot in my career. Although I had just landed my best job ever, I saw no practical way of getting back on track for my very ambitious career goals. I decided to check my core writings—my notes, analyses, conclusions, lists, et cetera—that I had been keeping and developing throughout my life. I came to a paper listing my ultimate goals (of course, with a nice little timeline that assumed everything worked out perfectly). I considered the perspective that people throughout most of human history would not live much past my current age. Using that perspective, I considered my life to be pretty much over: I was living on overtime. I looked at my life’s goals to my number one goal: writing a book on life and reality. Not being one to turn away from extreme goals, even in the face of what other people might think is impossible, I decided to go after this goal. “My life is over anyhow”, I thought. “I’m going for it.”

Hence began a nearly three-year effort that resulted in completing the most audacious project I had ever conceived. During this project’s research and development, I found that putting the book’s required elements into place formed an overall picture that greatly helped me to resolve some of my remaining big questions: What sets humans apart from other animals? What exactly is life? What exactly am I?

In fact, it was the answer to this last question (which required ten days of intermittent concentration), that finally led me to answer the question that had so baffled me only a couple of years before (how did I get so lucky to be my consciousness). About halfway through the draft of the book, its title finally and decidedly evinced its appropriateness over a hundred plus other title contenders that I had created. To my amazement and (to a degree) shock, it was: The Book of Wisdom (later changed to Wisdom in Perspective). Now, many people would think such a title to be preposterous. I would have thought so, before I started my book. However, many things in history would have sounded preposterous before their time: huge stone pyramids, internal combustion vehicles, computers, nuclear weapons, cloning, the Internet, etc.