A beginning with no beginning, and an end with no end. ― Anonymous
Some people call it Apeirophobia. Others either do not know it exists or they do not understand what it is. It is a fear that makes so much sense until there is no way out. Not even turning religious.
I was four when it first started.
What happens before life? What happens after death? Why do I exist? Where did I come from? Where will I go when I die? If I have to be somewhere else, what is the point of being here right now? What is the point?
I remembered asking the grown-ups these questions. My Buddhist grandparents said that life is a circle. “You cannot find the end nor the beginning. Ignorance created the eternal circle.” Then who created ignorance? How could we “not understand” if we did not exist in the first place?
It did not help when I learned about Nirvana. It is the ultimate goal of a true Buddhist to find peace. Once one finds it, one no longer suffers. One becomes nothing for eternity. Why would you want to be nothing forever and ever?
I call my only fear the fear of infinity. Maybe I was never afraid of infinity. Maybe I was afraid of how little I have control over this immeasurable period of time. My head cannot wrap around the idea of me being nothing when the world keeps going on and on.
When the world dies, the universe keeps going on and on.
When the universe dies, who-knows-what keeps going on and on.
It is beyond words. There were wheels spinning back and forth in my brain when I could not sleep. There were infinite reflections. Optical illusions. There were just so much that I can and cannot see.
In television commercials back in 2006, AFC cracker package came with a tiny picture of the package itself printed on the package. I wondered if the tiny package also had a tinier package on it. I wondered if the tinier package also had an even tinier package. I wondered…
What if everything we were told is an unintentional lie? Why did people back then believe in a flat earth? What if tomorrow we find out it is a different shape? A giant bowl lifted by a space turtle…
Just like fire. When one flame dies, another comes up. We never know if the new one is the old one. We never know if the new one is made up of the old one. We never know where the old one goes if it does not come back.
Past, present, future.
You cannot change the past even if you knew the whole story. You cannot change the future because how would you even know what to change? You do not even know what you do not know right now.
Are we better than our past selves?
That is the question I have asked myself for more than 15 years. I found the answers in the book called Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It was when the character described a fictional city called Maurilia:
It is pointless to ask whether the new ones are better or worse than the old since there is no connection between them, just as the old postcards do not depict Maurilia as it was, but a different city which, by chance, was called Maurilia, like this one.
There may not be a connection between past, present, future.
If you have this fear like me, know that you are not alone. Know that there is nothing wrong with you. Know that you are wise for asking the questions for the secrets of the universe. Try not to be obsessed with the past. If you spend too much time looking into the rear-view mirror, you will crash what is in front of you.
Let your mind wander and your lips sing to the point where you do not remember where one song ends and another begins.
It is okay to “not understand”.
© VITAK CHEAV