It’s just there isn’t it.
Right in front of you, staring back at you. Constantly being. Looking like it’s knowing. Staying the same apart from movement. Actually changing. Slow but fast. Constantly manipulable, pliable and RIGHT THERE.
I’m talking, of course, about the what.
Not THE what. We’ve already trod that territory. I’m just talking about the what out there.
What’s out there? What’s out where?
Everything. All the world’s a what, and we’re stuck on it, in it, near it.
Apparently it’s all just wavy electrons. Energy vibrations at different frequencies somehow creating masses with properties that interact in ways.
Seems a little unlikely, but then, otherwise we’ve got a universe built of solid and unchanging stuffness. And that’s even weirder. Surely the one thing we can all agree on is that nothing stays the same. (In fact, we can’t, most religious theses seem to point to some kind of permanent underlying something, which is one thing that makes them so appealing and so counter-intuitive, depending on where you stand).
So there appears to be stuff out there. My blanket, my window, my amplifier, enough air to carry music to my ears, I can’t hear the chickens, but I’m fairly certain they are there. There is things.
And that is what we’ve got. Things.
We can spend our life shuffling those things around. In fact, that’s just about all we can do. Somehow we have this perspective through which we look, and these tools we are attached to, methods of thinking about the stuff outside, piling it up in different orders. Rearranging matter and electrons to create differences. We mark out some things as separate from others, we fill cups back and forth.
Conservation of matter.
My dad said that to me when I was mad once. I was pouring water between two cups, trying to clean it (I kept on seeing dirt that I wasn’t convinced was actually there, and had a sudden desire not to waste any water, so by filtering back and forth, maybe it would clarify, I have no idea what my dad thought was going on).
Conservation of matter, thanks to that famous equation, is the same thing (kind of) as conservation of energy.
And so we’re left with a kind of falling apart stasis. The universe is full of stuff. The stuff can change but it cannot end. We can rearrange and refilter and move from place to place, but we can’t make a difference.
Which is what I think I was trying to say with the cups. It was all as pointless as moving water back and forth between two cups.
And entropy says that things will all fall apart over time anyway.
But it’s okay, because for now we have sandcastles, and judging from the way they scrape up to the sky, we’re getting pretty good at it.
Maybe life’s like jenga, and we should just take pleasure in the ridiculousness.
Except I fucking hate that game.
Illustration by Emma.