I live in my eyes. Looking forward, I see what is ahead. Looking backward, I
see what is behind. Looking to my left, and then to my right, I see that which is by
my side. I see a wall. It is a wall. I see a tree. It is a tree. I see a house. It is a house. I
see a dog. It is a dog. I see the sky. It never ends, but it is a sky. I see the ground. It
changes from dirt, to sand, to stone, but it will always be the ground.
One day I wake up. I open my eyes and get out of bed. I place my feet softly
on the ground; it is there. I rub my eyes with my fingers, peel away the crusty
substance and flick it to the side. I walk. Step by step, I travel. I see a door. I reach
out to its knob. I grasp it. It is cold. I turn it to the right and force the door open. I
reach for my toothbrush and line it with a helping of toothpaste as I place it in my
mouth and being brushing, I see a fly resting on the sink. I stare at it until it begins to
fly. My eyes are too tired to follow it. I close my eyes tightly and then open them
again. I spit, rinse my mouth, and glance in the mirror. My hair is not messy and my
teeth look white. With the rest of my day ahead of me, I see only this, and I leave.
What is a journey? Does it require one to move? Some would say a journey
requires a one-way ticket to nowhere and a packed bag. I disagree. All it takes to go
on a journey is the desire to leave something. I have always wanted to leave. I never
actually knew what I wanted to leave. From my family that I love and hate
simultaneously to the boring town I live in, there are plenty of reasons I would want
to leave. The only issue in taking a journey is that at the same time as there are
things you wish to leave, sometimes there are things you want to keep. This is why
many do not go on the journey they desire. The things they want to keep are more
important to them than the things they wish to leave.
This desire to keep held me from the physical journey I desired to take part
in. Buy a one-way train ticket to Boston, leave all of my troubles behind me and say
“fuck it.” What about my family, my college dreams, my friends, the support of those
around me? You know, all those things that give a sense of stability in life. So it was
quickly decided that my journey to Boston was not in my future.
Senior project entered my life at the perfect time. I was starting to feel lost. I
felt like I was losing something, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. I went
along with my life in a slightly drearier mood, never feeling completely satisfied or
When I first was given the assignment to chose a senior project, I
immediately began brainstorming projects having to do with my preferred college
major and future profession: marketing. I could think of nothing. This is when I
began to question my career choice. Maybe it was not right for me after all. Maybe I
did not have the mind for it.
Sometimes I forget that I’m real. I live in my eyes. I see that which surronds
me, but forget what is inside me. I lose who I am; if I ever even knew who I am.
Sometimes my identity confuses me. I forget my face. I lose something. Sometimes I
feel like if I don’t hold on, I can lose myself.
One night I was lying on my bed listening to music. This is a common activity
I frequently take part in, but this night would turn from a normal night listening to
music, to what I believe to be the turning point of my life.
My music library on shuffle, a song began playing that I had not listened to in
years, “Loose Yourself” by Eminem. I remembered that I used to know every word to
this song. I left it playing and went to the bathroom. Before I lifted the seat to pee, I
looked to my left and saw myself in the mirror. I heard the rap in the next room. The
lyrics captivated and possessed me. I began to rap. “Palms are sweaty, knees weak
arms are heavy, there’s vomit on her sweater already--” I looked into my own eyes
as I rapped. I stopped. I saw something in the mirror that I had never seen before. I
saw me. Not my hair, not my eyes, not my lips, not even my face. Me.
We both stopped. I looked deeply into my own eyes, but they were not mine.
I did not recognize this person I was looking at. I could not move. I stood completely
still trying to move my face, but the person I saw in the mirror would not let me. I
then forced my mouth to a smile. It happened. I closed my eyes. Eminem rapping in
the background, I began to cry. I slowly brought myself to lie on the cold tile floor.
Who was I? Who am I? What is I? I could not breathe. I was lost.
Two days passed. As I went along living, I remembered a lesson Shelby gave
us in English class. A lesson on a philosophy that sparked my interest:
existentialism. He explained the ideology that existence precedes essence, and the
notion that because of this we have the responsibility to create our own meaning of
the world. The philosophy seemed optimistic, so why was it that before this I had
heard the word existential used to describe a slew of depressing meaningless
I had forgotten about that lesson for about a month. When I finally
remembered it I thought, what am I doing? I don’t need to force myself to do a
project in my future career field. After all, it is in my future. I shouldn’t have to prove
to myself that I can do something I’m interested in. Interest is only the start;
knowledge and skill will follow. For now, I was going to enter a new field, cross a
new boundary and take up a challenge I had not once considered. This would be my
escape; this would be my journey.
What is a journey? Where does it take you? Does it matter? I ride rapidly
down a set of train tracks as I watch the trees fly past my window. I am moving. My
headphones are lodged deeply in my ears emitting sounds by “The Temper Trap.”
The song is “Sweet Disposition,” the perfect song to listen to while traveling. It can
take a train ride to visit the grandparents and transform it into what feels like a new
start, a new begging, a journey. I ride alone. The music possesses me. I am there, but
I am gone. I ride alone. Blissful solitude.
Suddenly, the train disappears? What is left? What remains? How do I go on
without this method of rapid transportation? Some turn back. Some give up, but not
I. I still have my legs. Sure they can’t travel at a hundred miles per hour, but I can
run, I can walk, I can leap, and a journey remains. Then it happens. My legs, they are
gone. What is left? No train to travel quickly, and no legs to travel slowly. Nothing is
left. The journey must end. For those who do not persevere, the journey does end,
but for me it has just begun. I reach out and grip the earth with my lanky fingers. I
pull on. Scrapes cover my torso. Dirt and dust fill my eyes, but I pull on. Then it
happens. My arms are gone. What is left? What remains?
Who am I? What makes me who I am? What if I’m a robot? In class I’m told
that everything we do, everything we are, comes from neurons, electricity,
chemicals, and matter. That is all we are, matter. Our mind, our self, our loves and
hates and fears are all not really ours. They belong to our brain. Our brain tricks us.
Tells us that we control ourselves; that we are ourselves. It gives us a sense of self,
sense of “I-ness.”
So what if this is all true? The facts say it is. If it is, what’s the point? If we
really have nothing to do with who we are, why don’t we just kill ourselves? And
there it is. What is there to chose to end me? My brain. So if I say I will end my own
life, and my brain is what decides that, my brain must be part of me. And I can
So if I forget the neurons and the chemicals and everything I learn in science,
I’m left with me. Is that ignorant? If I am hopeless robot, but I ignore it for my own
good, am I doing something wrong?
What is it to be right and to be wrong? Who chooses the definition of these
words? Some would say it is God who chooses. But if God is left out of the equation,
there really is no good and bad, and that would mean those who enforce goodness
based on some form of greater morality are playing God by preaching their own
moral decisions on others.
What I if I said forget it? There once was a man who loved to set things on
fire, and so he did. Even if others found it wrong, fire was this man’s connection with
the world around him, the only good he saw in his life. So he did what anyone would
do. He set things on fire. The consequences did not matter because he felt as if his
actions did not deserve consequences. He was then sent to jail for arson and the
murder of two families.
The man argued and argued that what he did was right; he set things on fire
and to him that is the right thing to do. Another man in the back of the courtroom
raises his hand to speak. The judge sees in this man’s eyes that he has something
worthwhile to tell. The judge allows him to speak. “Man, look at what you have done,
I do not wish to challenge your morality. I hate fire, and value life, but I see why you
committed your crime. But ask yourself this; if everyone decided to burn everything
around them, what would be left? Nothing. Lives lost, and all to be burnt would be
gone. This is how you must choose your morality. You live in a populated world.
There are others around you. We chose our morality not only because it is good for
us, but also because it works for all.”
Whether or not this man is right about morality, one can never be sure, but
he has taken a stance. He has made a decision. His lack of ignorance has benefited
the world. Whether that is the “right thing to do,” one will never know. That is the
beauty of subjectivity. Our society works the way it does because the individuals
make it work that way. Even if a community adapts them, all ideas, morals and
meanings always come from the individual.
I, lying on the hard dirt floor am an individual. My journey is gone. I will
never get to my destination. Without arms and legs, I can never travel to where I
desire to go. What remains? I close my eyes. I close them tightly. The blood rushes to
my head. I imagine something. Something beautiful. I imagine it and I am there.
Gone. No longer lost, I am there.
What is a journey? I picked up the first piece of existential literature I was
assigned in fear. No, not fear, it was more of a feeling of uncertainty. Though I could
have been uncertain of whether or not I would be able to understand the complex
literature I had been assigned, it was not this that made me feel uncertain. I felt
confident in my ability to comprehend anything I truly desired to comprehend. It
was rather that I was uncertain that I could attempt to understand and immerse
myself in a topic as deeply convoluted and abstruse as existence without feeling the
effects of that immersion. I knew this material would affect me, but I was uncertain
of how I would be affected. I feared that I would stumble upon some notion that
would change me in some negative way. Maybe I would come across a concept that
would strip me of my ability to enjoy life or maybe even my ability to feel any
emotions. It was a ridiculous uncertainty, but it was there.
My first journal entry in my process folio was a reaction to this uncertainty. I
wrote that in studying this material, I would in some way separate it from my life
and not be affected by it. This entry came purely from the fear and uncertainty I was
experiencing when I was about to begin the project. It was an uncertainty that I
could be ashamed of today, but I’m rather proud of it. I started there, and now I am
here. I look back at that uncertain feeling and I feel as if I have moved away from it. I
look to it, and I see that I have grown. I see that I’ve changed, that I have traveled
somewhere new. With no train, and no need for legs or arms I have ended up
Though Sartre may say that my sense of adventure comes from tendency to
tell my life as a story, and Kierkegaard may say that I am in despair because I am
stuck in possibility and will never experience actuality, the truth is that I really don’t
care. I took up this project thinking that these philosophers would change me. As if I
had no power in the situation. I felt as if I was giving myself up to them. As it turns
out, I’m still me. I think that’s all that really matters. No matter how many
explanations, in made-up philosophical terms one creates to define each part of the
world that surrounds us, the only thing that people really have to get through their
heads, is that we are ourselves, and that is the beauty of our consciousness. It’s what
makes us human. It’s us who makes us. No matter what God created us, or what
species of monkey we evolved from, we’re here, and the rest is up to us.
Though we are surrounded by exterior influences that range from people to
objects we glance at every day, we still have some form of control over who or what
we chose to be. Life is like a game. Each of us can control how we want our game to
turn out. Sure there are rules that can’t be broken, and sometimes you lose a round
and get upset, but what makes the game so fun is that we chose our process, and our
result. So play the game, be something. Be anything. Be your self, be the other, hell
for all I care, be me. But no matter what or who you chose to be, know that the
choice is yours, and if you ask me, that’s pretty damn cool.
Mathers, Marshal. "Lose Yourself." Eminem. Marshal Mathers & Luis Resto.
The Temper Trap. "Sweet Disposition." Sweet Disposition. Jim Abbiss, 2008.