A tumble, a twist and a trip.

I stare up at the circular opening of light above my prison. The walls are dark, odourless, void of anything my senses can comprehend. I can recall the fall. A tumble, a twist and it all began with a trip over some silly little pebble in my mind.

Thats correct, I’m stuck in my own brain. What was once lined with fleshy neurons firing blissfully away, is now, as I perceive it, a catacomb.

And so, like all tales that begin with woe, I return to my original thought, before things descended into darkness, before the ominous clouds rumbled into view, before the lull in the dramatic music that formed the soundtrack to my life.

No, no, no. Look we are rewinding on the ominous cloud. Its too late. No I dont have my receipt. Ok fine just leave them there.

Exeunt [Introductory Narrator & creatures of the catacomb]

Enter [U.Mirza’s Mind]                                                                                       Act 1: Scene 2

Scepticism is great. A healthy human will employ sceptical thought on a daily basis.

Why is this strange short male on the bus staring incessantly at my wallet?

I am sceptical about his intentions. Maybe he is a thief. Even worse, maybe he’s homeless. Oh dear god, I hate public transport.

And while the seated bus driver looks inquisitively at the middle class city worker, waiting for his fare on a busy tube strike day, the healthy human is already making a break for the automatic doors. Doomed to walk the quarter mile to work, mumbling sweet nothings to himself (mainly about the degradation of London society and the need for dramatic reforms, followed by a fleeting thought, the opening line of his letter to the mayor). The hydraulics of the bus hiss in dismay as it pulls away from the kerb, rejoining the blood flow of the city, one platelet in a crimson river.

But I digress, as usual. I really should remind myself to write an apology post about my lack of commitment to the subject at hand.

I pull on the cold metallic lever controlling my train of thought, bringing it juddering back on track.

This everyday type of scepticism is fine, natural, innate. Thats the whole point, you cant philosophise without scepticism, its the only way to pick apart a concept to see its merits and failings. Without challenging a view, you can in no discernible way, appreciate and understand it. But like I have expressed in the past, it is a slippery slope. In fact it is the same slippery slope I believe I have just falled down.

The pebble that tripped me, was, as expected this concept of charity. After my last post, I have been deep in thought as well as conversation about the concept of charity. The people who I have talked to, seem to be in one of two groups.

You have the romanticised, ‘we do charity to help people’ group…..(blank stare) and the realistic, ‘ok you got me, we do charity for personal gain’ group…..(Smile of relief). I am currently firmly beset in the second group. My fellow sceptics. My proverbial ‘peoples’. But unlike my peers my mind begins to wonder. Sceptical thoughts spread through my conscience like black tar over a snow globe, blanketing the intricate maze of experiences and beliefs. Consuming the unpredictable yet wondrous processes of a working human mind. I begin to skip thoughts, missing out logical links.

Are we all destined to live selfish lives? Is there no altruistic motive?

If the human condition cannot express its willingness to help others without the expectation of a return, then surely there is no point in its attempt.

Why bother?

And so it is as I knew it would be. I tumble, contorting my thoughts. Alice personified into a metaphor of my mind.

The view from the bottom is bleak. I pick myself up and dust myself off, my hands finally rest on my hips as I stare into oblivion. This can’t be right, I think to myself. And so I must employ a priori thinking to get me out of this mess. Looking at what has occurred, making my judgments about it and eventually, hopefully, resulting on a conclusion.

I am obviously sceptical that we perform acts of charity in a purely altruistic manner. Agreed. I also believe we do perform acts of charity to get some sort of warm fuzzy feeling or expect something back through the concept of karma. Agreed. But then why do we get a warm fuzzy feeling from doing charity? I would associate a warm fuzzy feeling with good. So In essence, charity is good. Charity in itself, might not be charity. But I am beginning to think it is good. For what ever reason. Which I seem to believe is some innate feeling I get when I think I am helping someone.

The sceptical cloud begins to evaporate. The twist.

Charity in itself, might not be charity indeed. But if I perceive it to be good, then why complain? Someone is getting help, it is by your hands. That is a good thing. Of course the intentions are important. The people who are charitable due to their own gain are surely better than those who are not charitable at all. Just because they have a selfish motive, it doesn’t necessary show a flaw in human behaviour and void our need for existence. It is a normal everyday thought. A cashier kindly gives a customer change for a note. They want the customer to come back due to their kindness. A motorist stops to allow a child to cross the road, hoping his interview that afternoon is somehow positively effected. These are everyday examples of selfish, charitable, actions.

These make us human.

"To conquer fear, is the beginning of wisdom" - Bertrand Russell

I stare up at the circular opening of light above my prison.

I clamber up. One arm outstretched, reaching for the light, as a leg directs my foot in what is now returning to its previous fleshy form.

I have a headache. It will probably take weeks of non-sensical thinking to iron out the shoe prints in my lateral ventricle.

Now I rest upon a view that keeps me out of the pit that is pure scepticism. So what if our intentions are not purely altruistic? Charity results in someone being helped. Helping someone is a good thing. And it is by finally identifying these popular views that I hold in my mind, I can effectively stabilise my thought process and begin a journey to discover how to go about it.

I am afraid I cannot apologise for the delivery of this post, as it is a retrospective account of a series of thoughts, emotions, conversations and musings, all bundled into my attempt at a comprehensive semi-fictional account.

Onward.

-U.Mirza

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