Being serious can be a lonely experience. I will not lie, at times I wish I could be less serious in order to feel less alone.
But there is no time for me to be less serious.
When we realize there is so much that we can do and should do in this world, coupled with the fragility of life itself, the understanding that 50 years of human life is not short and not yet that long, there is really no time to be less serious.
I have no idea when my mental faculties or physical abilities will be taken away from me. I live with a conscious awareness that they can be taken away from me anytime. I have been there before. Not too long ago, I lost the ability to function, to think, to appreciate beauty.
I was given a gift, a gift of life, made possible by the gift of an artificial death.
Death itself does not scare me. It is the idea of being physically alive but feeling no sense of life in any cell of my body, that scares me. I am serious about my sleeping patterns, because I was not able to sleep for a long, long time before. I am serious about what I eat, because messing up my diet could mean unwanted implications on my physical energy. I am serious about what I think, because I understand that mental energy is finite, so why waste it on meaningless thoughts? I am serious about protecting my alone time, because I have experienced what happens when I am over-exposed to people.
So to many people, I may seem like a kill-joy, awkwardly excusing myself out of parties and social gatherings. I need to be home before 9pm because I need to sleep at 10pm. There’s no room for negotiation because you have no idea how terrifying can insomnia be to someone who has coped with it for all her life.
I am scared and I have anxiety like anyone else. The curse that comes with being serious with relentless idealism, is the feeling of being misunderstood all the time. I am serious, but I am not cynical. I am brimming with an incurable passion for how humanity can be. I cannot be cynical, because it was the love given to me by humanity which lifted me out of my artificial death. I am only alive because I am convinced that we can be better. I understand one simple thing:
How the world functions is very disconnected from what the world truly wants.
I don’t buy into cynicism. I believe we can continue to make history and not repeat it. I believe in order to solve the world’s problems we need to have faith in the basic premise of humanity. It is not that the problems are difficult to solve, it is that we are just too jaded to believe human beings are capable of living up to their promise.
I feel out of place, because I believe in the promise of humanity. Isn’t that ridiculous? Because I am not as jaded, cynical, negative, numb? Because I believe that we all have a responsibility to contribute to the greater good, that I have strong opinions towards time-wasters like social gaming, that I believe in the idea of a good government to forward human progress, that I truly believe that all of us think we want mass approval but what we truly need are authentic connections?
I keep telling people morbid stories like the one about the two AI pioneers who killed themselves because they believe nobody would ever understand their ideas enough in their lifetimes in order for them to work on them. What good is a life when you are unable to work on the ideas you believe in?
In order to keep working on ideas I believe in so that I can keep myself alive, I have to find the strength within myself to be able to be truly authentic. I have to stand fearlessly with both my feet planted on the ground even if the world thinks I am naive. If being naive means having the courage and faith to believe in the promise of humanity, so be it.
There needs to be a discernment between being swayed because someone is making a convincing argument and being swayed because we don’t want to upset the status quo.
I check and re-check my personal motivations when I act on something. Am I doing it because I really believe in it, or because I am doing it for the fear of losing status quo?
Will I have the strength to push something forward knowing it is the right thing to do, even if it means I may risk losing everything that is important to me?
For having that strength is the difference between the person I am now, and the person I want to become.
I have no time to be less serious, because I am doing a disservice to the gift of life if I take it less seriously.