Metaphysics. I’d heard this word a few times before, just thrown out there, to the sea of conversation. Thrown out with or without meaning. Thrown out to impress, or just to say something that doesn’t sound so trivial, thrown out even because it goes well with physics, meta physics. It was a word that always popped up in my mind, slowly ricocheting. Randomly. Black letters in a white background, sometimes even on a black galactic background, the letters had a grey border. The word gave enough rounds through my head to lodge itself in it. It’s still there.
When I was about to finish High School, I knew it was a word for which I wanted to read books about. It seemed like such a big topic that would answer many of my infinite never-ending questions. Those that come one after the other, and when I’m hearing the answer to one of them, it brings me to a question that leads the discussion to a whole new world, and then Mae, my step-dad, asks, “do you really want to know the answer if you’ll jump to a whole other subject?” (yes, I do). I thought that when I understood the word metaphysics, things would change.
I remember I downloaded a book called metaphysics, but I never read it of course. I have this condition which makes me collect books, through downloads, through friends, through libraries, but never actually read them, leaving them on my important-to-do-in-my-lifetime pile. I guess this condition started for me in high school, when we had to read Gabriel García Márquez’ Cien años de soledad (CAS). I never finished it. I was doing the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Higher Level (HL) Literature in Spanish AND English, so I had many readings to do for these classes and five others, including HL Economics. Everyone read it everywhere. The hallways were full of bookworms, swallowing every page. All I saw was people reading it. My sister on the kitchen floor, sitting criss-crossed with the book in between her legs. Era mi condena. A lot of people managed. I didn’t. Not with CAS. God-Damned CAS. I got my first zero for a test thanks to CAS. Yes, literally a big fat zero, from Franco, my ancient god of a teacher. I had always been an A+ student, but there it was, my first zero. I hung it on my wall.
And still, the book was there to be read. It was the book everyone spoke about, even my mom who always says she just read 2 books for school, one of them CAS. How couldn’t I ever finish it? Even she had! The world’s laziest novel reader. And so I graduated from school and I decided to finally finish it. It was my project. It would be my Summer 2016 book.
Summer 2016, I was only able to reach page 250.
I gave it a shot the next summer, but had to start from page one, because I didn’t remember anything, and I need to know E V E R Y T H I N G that’s happening if I want to continue. That adds to my condition: I need to read every word of every page, otherwise I get desperate, OCD some would call it. That makes me a slow reader, which discourages me from reading. This time I made it to page 300! In between, it was the book I recommended to everyone, whenever I got the chance to show off my literacy. I moved to Berlin, and the book felt like an encyclopedia of South American society, the ways families work in the continent, and how my own family relates. It brought me back to my home, my roots, our collective roots, and helped me grasp some of the things I always knew were happening but could never put into words. Ursula, one of the main characters, reminded me of Mama, the grandma I adopted for myself. Ursula was old and blind and still managed to know where everything was physically and how every single person of her family looked and was doing. Mama is nearly deaf and sees blurry. She always tells me she’s afraid of dying, because she wants to look after us, her family, she wants to know what we are all up to and see us grow. The book is entirely fiction, magical realism, but everything is a hidden analogy of our history in South America. In this way, it is a useful fiction, like those we use in Economics to understand the world. Again, I stopped reading it, lo dejé, como el cigarro que lo he dejado 4 veces. I gave it one more shot Winter 2017. Page 350. That was as far as I could manage. I opened it up on this page four times during the next two years, but still, all I could do was 360. I realized I hadn’t read any books in between, I was stuck, thanks to my mentality of all in or all out. Thinking of opening the book one more time made my stomach tremble. I decided I couldn’t finish it, I was condemned to never finishing it, to 100 years of solitude. It wasn’t written on my life’s path.
I allowed myself to leave CAS, and with that permission came my responsibility of recommending it and talking about it to anyone with confidence. This decision opened a new world for me: I was finally able to read new books. I started with Just Kids, by Patti Smith, and devoured it, as it is a beautiful opportunity to get inside the world of art and read the story of two soul mates. The Unbearable Lightness of Being came next and helped me describe my feelings during a hangover, after a night of Piscola and Champagne. Champagne gives me a sad hangover. Mix it with Pisco and boom, the recipe for feeling the unbearable lightness of being. Then, Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s vocalist, a painful, accessible account of addiction and rock music. Now I’m reading Bukowski’s Ham on Rhye, and it has made me understand how everyone is shaped by their past. How can someone who’s never felt love give away love?
Anyways, Metaphysics. It still mingles in my subconscious. But two years ago, I was sitting at my kitchen in Lichtenberg. Owen, my dear flat mate and friend, had two friends of a friend visiting, and we had a spare room. One of them was Dane. We started talking about the coincidence of a certain happening, which happened to be related to everything as a whole, like everything, which brought us both to say Metaphysics, at the same time. Metaphysics was in every sentence, behind the actual meaning we wanted to give to our words. It was the structure and the essence. “It’s the meta, it’s all in the meta,” we kept saying to each other. I had never actually read the definition of Metaphysics, and wasn’t sure I knew its meaning, but sitting in the “crack den” as we called our Wohnung’s kitchen, filled with tobacco and ash, talking to this new Dane dude, it all made sense. It felt like I had always known the meaning, as if it was part of our collective conscience. It seemed like he did too. He knew it. We both knew it without having to explain. And so we vibed. Vibing can be explained through metaphysics. Sometimes you just feel it, you just understand without words, that’s metaphysics.
Today is the first time I look up the definition:
Wikipedia puts it as “Metaphysics… altogether is a theory of reality… the metaphysical idea that reality exists independently of one’s mind and yet can be known is called realism”. WOW, what I call collective conscience, and I explain through my thought that we all have inherited thoughts from our ancestors, actually has a name: Realism. Thoughts may be inherited through genetics, just as behavior and our brains are. And I knew it before I ever read this definition. All this year I’ve wondered if there are any universal truths: truths that are true independent of who or what you are. Is metaphysics the answer?
Don’t worry if you didn’t understand the last paragraph. Metaphysics is still here and there.
Metaphysics is what gives those thoughts I couldn’t piece together about South America an existence. It makes them real, independent of one’s mind. It is what Gabriel García Márquez is able to put into words through metaphors and analogies. It’s one of those things you just know. It’s the reason why I was never able to finish CAS.