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And What?

by Camille Delagrave-Ajduk


December 5, 2018 | Creative Writing


I clearly remember how some of my teachers would go on about the “and what?” our essays needed to tackle. By doing so, they incited us to push our thinking and writing further. This was meant to have it go beyond the superficiality and the surface of words. In brief, they wanted the substance and reason behind meaning, the further implications. This is rarely a problem I encounter, as my essays consistently ramble on and linger within the underlying layers of phenomena. They are rarely concise nor explicit enough about the actual topic. I spend too much time answering “and what?”.

When I think about the happenings and the fragments within my life, I can rarely conjure an answer to this “and what?” No, this is not the cliché “My life is boring, now what?” or grounded belief that I lead a lackluster life devoid of ultimate meaning. This is a smaller scale phenomenon that percolates through my brain ever so often. It is an objective feeling. I’ll be making plans with friends, but thinking about them in hindsight makes me wonder why bother, if it’s only to feel temporary belonging. I ponder upon the further implications of socializing and spending time with others a lot. I wonder what there is to everything I do. As you push your thinking, it is harder to come across answers as to why you place importance onto certain things. This brings upon the realization that nothing may be all there is.

In the end, I cannot conjure much meaning to life, therefore trying to attribute importance to actions feels like a waste of time. I only do things as a means of passing time, of distracting myself, which is fulfilling in its own individualistic way. 

Thinking about it, the greatest way these ideas have impacted me is in how I may never enjoy art the same way as before. Indeed, very few works can come close to answering the “and what?” I seek. When I read a book, I feel as if I know its content beforehand, and do not learn as much as I did during childhood. The same goes for movies and TV series. I enjoy foreign films, as they immerse me into something I could only partially envision and they provide a learning experience at the same time. I also enjoy highly visually stimulating works. These either soothe me or perturb me, which is very nice. Music, on the contrary, does give me a temporary sense of purpose. Then again, I enjoy music in languages I cannot comprehend, or without any vocals at all. These convey different experiences that offer me a glimpse of the greater picture, supposing there is one. Music is just enough to keep me satiated in the moment, since its illusion is benevolent. Once the sounds die out, however, I am left once again wondering, “and what?” 

There may never be any fulfilling answer to a question that calls for vague answers with much subjectivity. Despite this, it makes me seek varied experiences and incites me to go beyond what I’ve known. Although it may be fruitless, knowing that all there is, is nothing, is motivation to try and delve into all that the world has to offer. These thoughts make me feel lighter at times.

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