Still Life #18: Being, in the World

Here we are, me and my love, taking refuge in our screens. Me in existentialism, she in French. Our bunker, sheltering us from the world’s war on human ignorance.

We struggle to embrace what it means to be alive because there is a particular, yet hardly articulable, feeling of uncertainty that comes with such contemplation. And, nothing really seems to ever fully calm it. We try and escape this anxiety through making something solid or permanent out of the things we “have” and the things we “do”. We build an identity of who and what we are, using “stuff” as props. In the sea of time, we try build a life raft out of discardable things. But, objects, “out there” in the world, only prop us up temporarily because this angst we feel rests on the half-understood realisation that the only real certainty about our individual lives is that they will end.


As #Heidegger says “Anxiety is there. It is only sleeping. Its breath quivers perpetually through man’s being.” Covid19 is the rude awakening of this anxiety. It’s no longer just breathing. It’s screaming “enough with the having and the doing, they only bring temporary comfort, it is time for being”.

Even when we’re busy “having” and “doing” it never fully defends us against the whisper. This in itself becomes an anxiety of its own: the fear of losing. It gives rise to a chase for constantly taking from this world rather than a settling into “being in the world”. Right now, those that have the most might just be those that are panicking the most?

This may sound nihilistic. But beyond the initial panic lies a call to fully embrace what it means to be alive. To feel the sun on your back. The taste of the food you are lucky enough to have. The sound of the birds gathering in the trees. The awareness that we all depend on each other. And, appreciation for those you love and fear to lose.

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