Or are we?
Why did the philosopher cross the road?
IT’S A QUESTION I’VE OFTEN ASKED MYSELF.Lee Serpa Azeva-who?
The other day my friend Karl – who reckons himself a deep-thinker – was talking to me about philosophy.
“All the great Greek philosophers died as they lived,” said Karl.
“What, a long time ago, and probably in Greece?” said I.
“You’re an idiot,” said Karl.
“I’m not an idiot thank you very much, I’ll have you know that I have a Spanish philosopher living in my kitchen, he’s called Plato.”
Karl sighed and then carried on talking, “I view life as being on a spectrum.”
“Yeah, I remember them, they’re them computers from the 80s,” said I. As you can see it doesn’t take much effort on my part to come across as smart.
For some reason, Karl was shaking his head as he spoke, “at one end of this spectrum are abstract views and experiences, such as beauty, wonder, love and gratefulness…”
I remember thinking to myself, “Jeez, Karl, you’ve fucking lost me, but hey, I’ll just say something highbrow, nothing stupid, just to give you the impression I know what I’m talking, something that won’t make me look like an idiot.”
“How many philosophers does it take to change a lightbulb?” I proudly asked.
“Well it depends on what you mean by change,” said Karl, “anyway, where was I? So at the other end of this spectrum are things such as despair, loneliness and adversity.”
“And arseholes,” said I.
Karl rolled his eyes and carried on talking. “Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, we have little say, as to where we find ourselves, at any given time, on the spectrum of life,” said Karl.
I was getting bored, “what did the philosopher from Alabama say when asked about his love life?” I asked Karl.
“What the bloody hell are you talking about Lee?”
“It’s all relative,” I answered.
For reasons known only to Karl, he ran his right palm down his face, before carrying on with the conversation, “being at the positive end of the spectrum provides an array of opportunities not available to those at the opposite end of the spectrum.”
“My grandfather,” said I, “used to say, ‘when one door closes, another opens,’ he was a decent enough philosopher, but a lousy cabinet maker,” said I.
Karl looked irritable for some reason, “at the other end of the spectrum, there are few opportunities, some spend their lives fighting to get the hell out of there, some have no fight left, some get out alive, others do not, this is the extreme nature of life,” said Karl.
“What’s the name of that uninspiring Greek philosopher?” I asked.
“Lee, are you even listening to me?”
“Mediocrates,” I said.
Karl shook his head again and then continued, “we would all love to only ever live at the positive end of the spectrum, but we know this isn’t how life works. It is the lived experience of adversity that teaches us to be grateful, adversity pushes us to our limits, this is an innate part of being human,” said Karl.
Karl was finally beginning to make sense to me.
“Life is beautiful, even in the darkness. Never take your own personal existence for granted,” said Karl.
Did you hear about the philosopher who was trampled?
A tragic example of putting Descartes before the horse.
Originally published in Medium publication The Partnered Pen, 18th November 2019.