Jean-Paul Sartre (um 1950) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
walking up some flights of stairs in the morning, taking one step at a time, my thoughts start drifting, and i continue walking, and i keep thinking, and my feet continue climbing up the first flight of stairs, one step at a time, one step at a time, and i continue dreaming pleasantly, and my feet continue walking until i grow aware that it is taking a rather long time to climb that one flight of stairs, 13 stairs at most, and while my feet are still climbing i see that i have reached the second to last step and still i climb and my feet continue to move obediently, my thoughts retracing my steps, until finally, and i can measure that time span of the last step, i have reached the first landing.
time perception of course, by its nature is subjective, but how long a dream can one dream climbing up one flight of stairs, i wonder. on the landing the grey light filtering through the milky hall way window does not admit to time passing and i almost dread climbing the next flight of stairs.
but, of course, i do, what else is there to do, but to continue. so i focus on the steps this time, 13 at most, and i am resolved not to allow my thoughts to drift.
i focus while i am walking, and i focus on my focus, and i see myself walking up that flight of stairs, 13 steps at most, while i am concentrating so hard on not dreaming, not drifting, on almost not thinking that my brain starts feeling cold.
and my feet keep moving, climbing up the steps, and i am carefully keeping my focus, and yet when i have mastered not even half the flight of stairs, i realize that once again the time it takes to climb these steps does not correspond to the number of steps i have been climbing and i freeze in the midst of climbing, one foot on the seventh step, one still on the sixth, and i have a hard look at that staircase but there is nothing out of the ordinary to be observed.
and yet i am sure of it, it takes too long to climb these stairs, and ideas start forming, offering themselves with deceptive playfulness, but i reject them because now all i want is to be done with climbing that staircase and so i continue.
trying to regain that coveted state of unconsciousness with with which one climbs a step of stairs, not observing the act of climbing, not synchronizing mind time with physical time, i pitifully fail.
again i step up and step up and step up as if climbing that staircase was a specific task to fulfill, as if i was not mastering some flights of stairs but was struggling up a mountain to reach a monastery carved out of the mountain side, as if i was following a pilgrim’s path to enlightening. i couldn’t be more aware of every single neuron firing to accomplish this complex daily task though all i crave is unawareness towards it. and i continue climbing.
on the next landing i hardly pause to contemplate what i must do as there is no alternative to walking, and i simply walk up the next flight of stairs, i walk and i walk, and by now i am not struggling against the perception of the walk that does not correspond to the space though i am not accepting it either.
on to the next. i know by now that this is and is not an ordinary staircase, that i will resume life once i reach the top but as of now my life is suspended and all that is asked of me is to walk up those steps, so i keep walking.
my unimaginative mind gets bored of this existential task, even slightly amused, rather than to be terrified, never mind that for all i know this stairway might be sartre’s huis clos and gabriel, ines and estelle might be right behind me, or i might be ines or estelle, but still my mind gets bored of this task of climbing some flights of stairs as if that was all there was to do for eternity.
when i am bored of being slightly amused by my own superior outlook on the terror of eternity i start swearing silently under my breath, but still i am climbing, and at some point i am done swearing, too, or rather i run out of entertaining curses.
so when i am done swearing , i start wondering who is going to study my briefs today, or tomorrow for that matter, who is going to review my documents, conduct my research, draft my pleadings. and after climbing another flight of stairs, i start feeling pity for myself and i sadly ask myself who is going to comfort my children and read my books and paint my paintings while i am climbing this endless staircase. and still i am climbing.
and this i do every morning. i tell you this just because you asked me whether i believe in eternity (or anything, really). sure i do.
every morning, rejecting the elevator, i do repent of my choices by climbing that eternal staircase and, for all i know, i never leave it, for all i know, i am forever walking up one flight of stairs after the other, because i do not remember ever reaching the top of it, i do not remember opening the door to exit the hallway and entering my office even though i won’t deny either that i am indeed sitting here, at my desk, drafting my briefs, conducting my research, writing my pleadings and trying to convince you if not myself that i am more than a speck of transient dust.