Your days are made up of those moments when you build Lego houses, pillow castles in your room, and those magical beliefs that turn your life into a perpetual adventure of exciting discoveries.
These beliefs, they turn your town or village into an exhilarating obstacle course (if you jump over three pieces of pavement at the same time, then you’ll get a dog). They make things you love happen in your daily life (if you catch a ball being thrown four times, then sure enough, there will be pancakes for dessert). They make room for whatever wacky thing your imagination can come up with (if you choose not to pick that leaf, then the little imaginary people who must live there will make sure to create the most fantastic poppy bed for you).
Your mind is a bit like your random Youtube video suggestions: surprising, logical in its own illogic, and above all… limitless. Inside, there are a whole bunch of existential questions that get jostled around:
- What is the ideal consistency of cereals (NB: I am one of those people who had a devouring passion for Weetabix, commonly referred to by my peers at the time as « lousy cereals ». There is nothing more beautiful than this little cluster of cereals that sums up the absurdity of human existence: sailing on an infinite sea of milk to break up into a shapeless universal mush )
- Is the heart of the salad the residence of an imaginary kingdom (N.B.: Biting into a slug at the dawn of my twenties because I was too lazy to wash a lettuce was a form of response)?
- Is your dog Caramel happy in this Disneyland farm for animals that your parents brought him to (N.B.: You already felt a vague scent of fraud at the time, because Caramel hid under the sofa at the mere sight of his own shadow)?
And then one day, you wonder if that magic has run away on its little legs somewhere in the Bahamas, without you. Like when you find yourself making your 18th Excel pie chart of the day while the weather is nice outside.
Or that you learn what really happened to your dog Caramel (Spoiler: He didn’t end his days scratching his belly on a bed of chicken nuggets served on a gold leaf, but rather in « highway pancake mode »).
Or when you realize that, contrary to what your parents have always insisted on, kindness will not help you get through everything (they forgot to mention that one day, some people might take a piece of your heart while enjoying the warm corpse of your kindness).
Or when you wake up one morning in a world where touching a human being, dancing and laughing in the middle of a crowd of other sweaty people, enjoying the discovery of an unknown country, or a simple drink on a terrace, is science fiction….
So, where has this magic gone, for God’s sake? Are we all condemned to roll around in the mire of existence, in the middle of the corpses of our fantasies, our dreams and our wildest hopes? Do we have to forget all those wonderful things that used to fill us with joy and put on this adult skin, somewhat dull and worn out by life, for ever?
I haven’t found the magic formula that will turn your existence into an ocean of constant bliss (if it did, I’d be the first to roll around in a soft field of clouds, contemplating my wonderful trees whose fruits would be books and lemon cakes).
Since, as for cakes, it is always good to share what tends to make you feel good, the following lines, if they don’t turn your lives upside down, can at best make you spend a little time reading that you won’t use to think about yet another strange theory (no, the duck god definitely didn’t decide to take over our minds by air), or even make you smile. And if, by the way, some of the things mentioned have some resonance with your experience, well, I would enjoy in thought with you one of these existential profiteroles (It is elsewhere in the world one of the things of the world before that I miss terribly, the profiteroles…).
1. Spoiler 1: You’re going to die one day. Here goes.
Can you feel the elation that emanates from the beginning of this post (we are kings of the crazy atmosphere around here)?
No need to draw you a picture: like Elon Musk, like the nice grocer who always gives you a cheese, like Marie-Thérèse Duboudin who used to traumatize you in the first grade, like the king of oil, like the spider on the corner of your ceiling.
Unless you turn into a tardigrade (certainly immortal, but closer to the mutant grape), there is little chance of escaping the fate that awaits most living beings.
Faced with this very unenjoyable fact (at least, much less than the prospect of a trip to New Zealand or the tasting of cashew nuts), there is the option to flagellate oneself by thinking about the profound absurdity of human destiny, while gorging oneself with Cioran’s quotations, each one more full of glitter than the other (N. B: I always liked the paradox that a Cioran reputed to have a joyful nature is the one who wrote: « Whoever did not die young deserves to die »). Having experienced this in my adolescence, accompanied by the charms of an appropriate soundtrack (when I tell you that we have a deep sense of celebration here), it has the merit of plunging you into the heart of the matter.
There is also that of the hyperconsciousness of this state of affairs, inciting you to live your life like a hamster discovering a big wheel: fast, a lot, intensely, refusing nothing, as if each second was the last. If this philosophy has the advantage of letting you drink, drink, try everything, or want everything, it came up against two obstacles for me: my passion for sleeping (sleeping is like the door to heaven within reach of your comforter) and my mental health (wanting everything is good, only doing things halfway because you have time for nothing in the end is already less nice). My conclusion was that existence is full of enough roller coasters to add 100 000 per second (I like roller coasters, but I tend to throw up my cotton candy quite easily in them).
And then I came to the thought: the most important thing, at the end of the day, is to be sincere with yourself (something and words I deeply share with one of my fantastic personal anti-heroes). I won’t be able to fly around the world 118 times on a magic flying duck, nor will I be able to become an expert in the quintuple trampoline jump (I’d love to, but my clumsiness has to be accommodated). I won’t be able to read all the books in the world, nor to see all the movies in creation, if I intend to have any kind of social life (I have this deep-seated flaw of loving people). Nor will I be able to do 100,000 fundraising projects that I care about, and have a perfectly rested rosy complexion (I’ve learned my lesson in recent weeks by contemplating my heart, which is certainly full of joy, but my dark circles worthy of the Grand Canyon, matching my body at the end of its life).
The only responsibility I can have in this apparent slump is to define what will make me say, when I’m about to breathe my last breath (perhaps surrounded by my army of magical ducks, and my lemon cake tree): « I couldn’t do it all, but I sincerely immersed myself in what was important. ARG ».
2. Spoiler 2: Being nice is good. Knowing how to clearly say « fuck it », or « I’ll pass », is good too.
It’s not for lack of having had models of people who didn’t try to smooth things over at all costs, like that lady, or that gentleman, or examples of parents who always valued the importance of never being locked into the voice of general opinion, I had always had in my mind the unblemished image of absolute kindness, upright in the storm, stoic even in the most profound disappointment.
For me, the adage of always giving your left cheek as a supplement to your right buttock, in case of an existential slap, was the most natural thing in the world, because inevitably, kindness would eventually triumph over all.
And then I realized that there were people in this world who were kind and positive in all circumstances, but in whom a new appendage had begun to grow: a huge sting of bitterness, quite purulent from giving without half measures.
There were also those who were perfectly honest in their concern for benevolence, but absolutely insincere with themselves (these strange beings called « the nicest people on the planet », who turn into nightmares as soon as an obstacle comes to upset their framework of the world of kindness: « You rejected that pea ???? YOU DON’T LIKE PEAS? Oh, you’re so bad! »).
Kindness is a virtue without equal, it goes without saying. But unless you’re perfection incarnate, there are bound to be episodes where you’ll find it hard to turn your right cheek after you’ve had a piece of your kidney taken away.
The premise that changed everything for me? The one that changed everything for me? The one that there are so many great people to love in this world, and so little time to do it. So you might as well focus on the ones who make you feel good, while clearly displaying your core values: natural trust in human beings, but also your ability to say loud and clear « I’ll pass » if someone uses yours as a doormat.
3. Spoiler 3: Know how to invoke the best aspects of your inner child when necessary
In my house, there is always the child who can marvel without tiring at a column of ants carrying huge pieces of cake. There is the one who considers the magic of books, the friendly shape of a pebble, and having the time to indulge in them as something essential.
There are also the ones and only fears inherited from childhood, those things that make the world a little terrifying, that make her/him feel like a stranger.
It is a very paradoxical thing that this inner child is able to make you sensitive to the best of the universe, while being able to throw you all the shovelfuls of insecurities he/she may have been confronted with.
Mine, it took us a little time to live in perfect harmony, to know sometimes what was coming from her still sensitive points, or from my adult voice. But as we have enough to get along (I still supply her with chocolate, tales and legends, and hairy dogs to scratch while squealing with joy), as I learned to listen to her and to reason with her without having to smother her under a cushion (she is still faster than me in any case), she and I have formed a rather nice partnership.
When my mind is too deep in essential adult problems, she comes and taps me on the shoulder, telling me that there are a billion dogs to scratch and little dreams to chase that need my attention. When I run out of steam chasing said dreams, she is the one who makes me laugh again, telling me to take the time to savor the epic, that the race itself, the landscapes crossed are just as exciting as the goal.
As usual, I don’t know how to conclude this post, so I’ll give you the choice to get lost in this video about a squirrel adoption, to watch a very intriguing animated short film about the serial killer Ramirez and his groupies, or to listen to the last episode of The art of Asking Everything of Amanda Palmer with a fascinating insight about our relation with technologies, You can also check out the latest episode of my podcast (all in English).