Comfortably numb

I pretty much lied. Even though my last trip to London was planned to be a solo-trip, one of my best friends  -who happens to study in the UK- joined me and we actually spent most of the weekend together.

On the first part of my trip, where I strolled by foot around 35km from my cheap-dirty-fun hostel in Borough to the Tower Bridge, then Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, up to the British Museum, down to Westminster Abbey, beautiful Southbank and the Queen´s walk back to Borough, I had more than the time to sink into my thoughts about the place, stop by street artists, imagining la vie quotidienne in London. Thus, when I picked up the south-american energy-tornado I call one of my best friends at St. Pancras Train Station, I was more than happy to spend some time with her and continue strolling to Museums and the city together, seeing things through her eyes too and letting myself be inspired by it. (More than inspired by her, you get totally overwhelmed by the tsunami caused by her colourful soul and ideas, but “inspired” somehow sounded more diplomatic in this context.)

Anyway, in every tornado´s eye, there is a moment and place of doldrums and when sitting in a cafe I heard her picking a topic of conversation from behind her giant matcha that has always been really close to me since forever. I guess in everyone´s life there are some friends you are exclusively social with, e.g. with whom you have nights out, party, go for vacation… basically have fun. Then there is this other half, normally the friends you make at school or university, with whom you study, talk about deep crap and just seldomly meet outside the scope of being productive. If you are lucky there are some, few but precious friends you can do both things with. I would call her definitely one of the latter type.

Sitting there she told me about a very specific topic concerning her two sides: the social tornado side and her deep-crap side, which is the topic of her studies at university. It´s really hard to combine the two sides of one´s personality. I believe it´s mainly because there is no occasion to talk to your party-friends about pressing environmental issues and your mission to let everyone be more aware of their footprints on the ecosystem while holding a drink on the dance floor.

On the other side, there is no occasion to talk to your study buddies about the problems of making your subjects and the present issues -which are subject of your study- sexy and appealing enough to a broader audience, because honestly most of one´s study-buddies are not interested in that part of their field of inquisition. Let´s say they are “narrow-minded” in this perspective (because probably they are interested in other issues rather than in the ones more pressing for yourself and they might see you as narrow-minded because you are not interested in their field) or you personally do not have that kind of intimacy with them, in order to pick up those topics.

As I have exactly the same problems with my friends, we asked ourselves: how do you make your field of interest, your pressing issues, yours missions appealing and “cool” to others? I had to laugh internally at the thought of explaining Logic to my mom in terms of ethics or arts or anything linked to feelings so she could relate to my words. And somehow, I had to laugh at myself for bowing out of the discussion as soon as some of my family members refers to some crazy economic values, the stock market or the latest dumb policy…

(BTW, I later had an even bigger crisis when thinking about a paper I wrote for Uni about whether the Intellect is propositional in Plotinus´ philosophy of spirit: who cares about this anachronistic crap, but most importantly: why do I even care? I quickly had one of my existential crisis thinking about the committment I put in it and the time spent working on such a useless argumentation. But then I remembered that I do it for passion and the scope of it is my inner development and the nurturing of thoughts -so it doesn´t have to be useful-…ect. luckily I decided to step out of this thought before it was too late and I would feel like squandering other´s -useful people´s- oxygen.)

Anyway, the first question to my mind was which quantitative methods one could use in order to assess why people do not find some subjects -say environment-related issues- as appealing as the stock market values. Would a survey exhaust this scope? Probably not. Why? Well, probably because surveys are not that appealing either and people just do not commit to a question if they do not see a point to their benefit. The funny thing is: a healthy environment would be a pretty great point to their benefit. Which method should then be applied? If the common person is mainly motivated by short-time benefit, how can we solve political, environmental, health related topics anyway?

Generally, I see the diversity of interests, study, thoughts as one of the greatest values of humankind. But a question let me puzzle on the 6am plane to Munich straight from the funniest night out: should there be some principal topics forming the basis of everyone´s interest? If yes, wouldn´t it be borderline to dogmatism saying everyone should care for their environment? On the other hand, is it better to be dogmatic or to let persons be indifferent towards their own and their own kids´ future? In short: should we want governments and institutions to be educative, if there is a chance to thereby form a basis of awareness and respect? If yes, we are in charge for it and it should be our mission for life.

Morpheus dragging me into his realm made me stop this thought right at this point: I am proud of my tornado-friend and her mission. Our interests often make us feel, as Roger Waters would have written: comfortably numb. And I know, the next to start this mission will have to be me.

One thought on “Comfortably numb

  1. Attitudes are the result of the perception of the environment. Short-sightedness and the subsequent lack of vision, both space- and time-related, can be a defensive reaction to the perception of threats. Short-term threats cause immediate reactions, that can counter virtuous long terms behaviours. Disentanglement from existential threats (death, age, change – environmental and in lifestyle) is needed to preserve a clear self-consciousness over time.

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