Posted by: xeper | August 14, 2008

How Alive Are You?

Some time ago, I have come to the conclusion that most people are not really alive. So I only cared about the life of people I know are alive. But then I am now realizing even us are not really alive. Not dead, but not really alive. This reminds me of a verse in the Quran describing Hell (“Gohannam”). It says ‘they don’t die there nor live’.

We’re not really alive, are we?

I’m not alive. This seems to be the most recurrent theme on my mind these days.

There are many definitions of “alive”. I’d like to share mine: The more predictable you are the more dead you are. Think about it. What is dead? A pebble in the street is dead. It is quite predictable, isn’t it? You know why? Because it has no inner motive. Why do people get killed? Someone wants them to stop the change they are doing, or they can do. Someone wants to change them from unpredictable (alive) to very predictable (totally dead). The eternal fight between the predictable and unpredictable.

You know the story of Hor (Horus), son of Ozer (Osiris), fighting and eventually overcoming Set (Seth). Here’s one interpretation: The brothers Ozer and Set are Predictability (alternatively also called “Order”) and Change (also referred to as “Chaos”). According to many accounts, Hor eventually prevails, but Set lives on; for Hor pulls out the nerves of Set and uses them to make strings for a harp, which he plays harmoniously ever after. For Order has to use Change and Chaos to really live, or else it becomes simply Death.

It is funny that most of my life I’ve been brought up associating Order with Life, Chaos with Death. But this seems to have come from old high class blood in my family’s veins; for in general those are the associations of the better off. Of course, if things are “ordered” and predictable, the better off remain alive and better off. If “Chaos” was to take over, they couldn’t benefit; they will probably be pulled down to where the majority is. So as part of the withering middle class of Egypt, I guess I should start associating Order.. the current order of things.. with Death. Because this is what it is for me and my family and my like. If things went in the same order as they are now, we will disappear as a cultural (and maybe genetic) group very soon. The Last of the Mohicans. The Last of the Egyptians.

But let’s go back to Hor’s victory over Set. I only noticed now as I was defending the Life aspects of Chaos.. Hor is the son of Ozer, Ruler of the Dead. Indeed, Order as I expected, was the son of Death. Not exactly, but Order is the son of the Status Quo. And the Status Quo is lack of Change. And is that closer to Death or to Life??

Now that you so generously accompanied me through this little trip, I should return you where I took you: How alive are you? How alive is any of us?

I tell you: to the extent we can change. Go back to where you have grown up. If the street is unrecognizable, it might initially mean your memories died. But this is life, dear. Life is the continuous death and replacement of what is, was, and will be. You’re only dead when this stops. How many things you would have rather changed in your life? How many of these are you changing? How many bad habits have you killed over the past year? How many new people have you met and conversed with who were really new to you, not just more copies of the ones you know? How many new thoughts have passed your mind, germinated there and grew into new life? How able are you to change what you don’t like about yourself?

That is how alive you are.

More about this soon God willing. Until then, how do you see it? How do you know how alive you are?

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Responses

  1. جميله يا احمد….برغم ان ليه تحفظ على الفراعنه 🙂
    فى انتظار الاكثر قريبا ان شاء الله

    Beautiful, Ahmed, though I have some concerns about the Pharaohs.
    Looking forward to more of your writing God willing.
    (Translation by Xeper)

  2. Thank you Sal. More will come soon God willing.
    I am curious to know more about the issues you have with Pharaohs. I think their are many misconceptions about Ancient Egypt. So please share your ideas, if only to give me ideas for new posts.
    Thank you for the encouragement and your frankness.

  3. ((How many things you would have rather changed in your life? How many of these are you changing? How many bad habits have you killed over the past year? How many new people have you met and conversed with who were really new to you, not just more copies of the ones you know? How many new thoughts have passed your mind, germinated there and grew into new life? How able are you to change what you don’t like about yourself?
    That is how alive you are.))

    Ahmad that was really a very good one i really enjoyed reading it a lot.

    All the Best!
    Ghada

  4. Thank you Ghada for the nice comment. I am glad you liked it. For me, writing it helped me organize many of my thoughts. I hope it has good effects on everyone else too.

  5. @anton: Your comment was off topic, and it linked to a site that disrespects religions, logic, and good taste. I considered it spam and deleted it. I am leaving this message for the 1 in a millionth chance that it was not auto generated, so you may reply to me. Thank you.


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