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If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll thank you for the things you did in my life

It’s always easier to advise strangers than it is to advise oneself, right? I’m not the only one who does this? Am I not the only one who’s stumped to act, to think?

I’m told that this has to do with the Halting Problem, the Entscheidungsproblem and all that: I cannot look into myself with perfect introspection, for it would require my consciousness to be larger than itself. My mind cannot think and observe itself thinking to decide on a second level what to do at the first level.

But brains aren’t computers. Or so we’d like to think.

Brains do reflect on themselves, regardless of whether that thinking is clear, purposeful, or even true. A mind high on legal or illegal drugs can think about thinking and come to realisations about itself. A brain suffering from any of a myriad of mental health issues can think of itself with no problem, even if it tends to tautologic arguments, falsehoods and self-fulfilling prophecies. A brain that’s eaten and slept well can appreciate the leftover actions, texts, art of its hungry, past self. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and so it’s easier to know about me when I’m in the future looking at the past. Sometimes, I wish I was there, in the future.

So there exists communication between the brain and itself, even though it’s plagued by faulty connections, faulty logic, faulty hardware or the arrow of time. But even by mere chance, there’s a possibility that communicating with myself can result in the truth.

If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll come back down and sit
beside your feet tonight

I’m more of an agnostic. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in a deity, or deities, just that I don’t think the question of their existence can be meaningfully and unambiguously asked to obtain a reasonable and actionable answer.

There are things that science cannot answer, and this is not a controversial thing to say. The scientific method alone cannot give moral truths, there’s no experiment that we could set to determine whether punching someone on the nose is «good or bad».

There are powers greater than us humans. A bear’s power—for instance—lies in its raw strength, which we could never match without external aid. Luck may not be a god or deity, but it certainly is real, and beyond our control. Same goes for the weather, and the rotation of Earth around the Sun.

In here, in this house, in these circumstances, I must censor myself: my words, my beliefs, my likes, my desires. It’s easier, moment-to-moment, to just surrender these. It avoids the lash-like questions. If I’m powerless, it’s proof that a greater power exists, right?

Wherever I am you’ll always be
More than just a memory
If I ever leave this world alive

I often wonder about this connection to ourselves. Probably more than I should.

I often wonder if I could sever the link. Probably more than I should.

If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll take on all the sadness that I left behind

High school: we were once discussing our roles withing our group of friends. Some comparisons were easier than others. When it came to me, someone said that the Cleric role fitted me well, and I was like a good scrubbing sponge for cleaning others of their impurities, for buffing them to shine.

When we saw each other again, five years later, I realized you cannot clean everything without soiling something. The sponge is useful for cleaning, but it gets dirty in the process. Buffing requires friction, and even the strongest whetstone will get worn down to dust.

If I ever leave this world alive
The madness that you feel
will soon subside

I also realized that I cannot just exist without getting some of my own dirt around me.

More and more I fear this dirt is invisible to me, and greater in quantity than I’d like to even consider.

More and more I realize that even I could leave something worse off than before, and that my efforts might be misguided. More and more I wonder really what’s my place here, and whether I’m offloading the responsibility of that question to a hypothetical greater power in which I may or may not believe because it’s an ill-formed question.

More and more I wonder about my place, and the order of things. More and more I wonder of my mental model of myself, and whether it’s well formed (it’s not). More and more I wonder about where in this introspection I was wrong, how I could correct it and even if I could.

More and more I think that I cannot and should not try.

More and more I wish to sever the link. Probably more than I should.

So, in a word, don’t shed a tear
I’ll be here when it all gets weird
If I ever leave this world alive

16 ubi sunt principes gentium et qui dominantur super bestias quae sunt super terram
17 qui in avibus caeli inludunt
18 qui argentum thesaurizant et aurum in quo confidebant homines et non est finis adquisitionis eorum qui argentum fabricant et solliciti sunt nec est inventio operum illorum
19 exterminati sunt et ad inferos descenderunt et alii loco eorum exsurrexerunt

Flogging Molly, «If I ever Leave This World Alive»

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