This is an essay written long ago, one that gives you the either nostalgic or tranquil, but always eerie feeling of time traveling and meeting your old self. I tried not to edit anything, for the past and memories deserve that minimal respect, however awkwardly they fit in the present self – the tyrannous of all selves.
Whenever I have a moment to recall my childhood, memories of my favorite game flash through my eyes, vivid and colorful as though I was time traveling. There I was, a ten-year-old boy lying on the soft green grass and staring at the serene blue sky. My face steeped with such a pure content that could make any adult’s mind mingle with both adoration and envy. I swiftly closed each of my eyes, left, then right, then left, and excitedly I saw the continuous shift of the sky above me. I grinned helplessly at the curious thought that the whole world was being changed by the power of a blink. When I timidly opened both of my eyes, wide and amused, the two versions of the sky smoothly blended into one, a new, different one. High above was the same sky, with the same carefree clouds, the same jovial wind, yet now it seemed to bear a completely fresh appearance that never failed to amaze me.
At times, my dad caught me playing this game, and usually he construed the blissful smile written all over my face as I was dreaming about Superman like all other kids did. Immediately I obeyed his order to go finish my homework, even felt somewhat guilty, for I was myself convinced that I was playing a sheer game. I could not know by then that the instant I closed one eye, I opened the door to the vast possibility of relative thinking.
Relative thinking. Not until recently could I name my childhood experience, for to me it has always been so natural and intimate as birds always sing and the sun always shines. Yet to many people, picture of intellect is a solemn-looking man, his eyebrows furrowed, his face stricken, and surrounded by ominous silence. Thus, it took me quite a while to be confident that what I had always been doing was serious thinking. The concomitant joy was simply too pure and intense that to me, thinking seemed more like a festive game at first.
As I grow up, I even have more chances to play my “relativity” game. Whenever I approach a chemistry problem, a social controversy, or maybe just stand in front of the refrigerator wondering “Pepsi or Coke?” I close my eyes, my prejudices, and think relatively. I listen to one side, and then let the other argue, giving reasoning the freedom to push itself to the extreme. That is when thoughts rush through my mind, so fast and dense like thousands of headlights dashing back and forth, knitting the luminescent web on highways. Unexpected convergence of competing viewpoints and illumination of obscured ideas, all obediently line up as I open both of my eyes, wide and amused. Now, concerning the original conundrum, I have a completely fresh understanding that never fails to amaze me. I feel like I am ten again.
It does not take me a long while to realize that relative thinking has exceeded the academic area and has embedded in my everyday attitude. I do not have to read self-help books to know that everything changes when perspective changes; I experienced that millions-dollar-making philosophy years ago on the lawn of my home, when the entire objective world was changed by a single subjective blink. Therefore, I do not live along with successes and failures; I am always one level higher than all those hysteria and depression, looking down and calmly observing what happened to me with the eye I choose to use. I realize that there is nothing to be too upset about, for the shadow of defeat makes it easier to discern the light of motivation. Likewise, there is nothing to brag about, for a dazzling victory may cloak my eyes and cover a threat of complacence. It turns out that persistence and humility are the two vines that grow from the same seed of relative thinking.
Now and then, I feel that my life is a perpetual debate, in which each choice is a resolved. I play the judge, who weighs the argument of both I The Affirmative and I The Negative and decide which to follow. Occasionally, though, the debate becomes too heated that I am very ready to either scratch my ear or laugh triumphantly with excessive enthusiasm. Such behavior worries my parents sometimes: once, I overheard my dad assuring my mom that he would take care of me, “our little boy is just growing up.” And that night, I had a two-men’s talk about sex and life. “Dad”, I thought to myself, “I was wondering about outer space intelligence actually.”
Hm. Next time, I might have to play my “relativity” game more inconspicuously, yet never ever with any less joy.