I’ve always been interested in the concept of limbo, a place where all is abstract and nothing is certain, a place of no details and nothing firm or solid, a place where even the concept of solidity is unthinkable; instead, just an in-between, a transitory type of nothingness, a kind of featureless demilitarized zone that, unlike most, nobody seems to care about enough to fight over or protect, a place in which people unintentionally arrive – and, sometimes equally unintentionally – stay for their entire lives.
Limbo, by definition, is indefinable, indivisible, formless; the complete lack, the ultimate negative. We often describe ourselves in limbo when deciding what to do, or while waiting for a decision, or while making a life transition of sorts. But all of these processes, though themselves places in-between, are not negative; they are profoundly active processes of growth and self-discovery and struggle and challenge. Instead, limbo is the mindless continuation of one’s life, the apparently purposeless or meaningless drone-esque existences that make up the perpetual motion machine of the world.
I live in a city of limbo; a city of individuals seemingly unthinkingly tied to their daily routines, their jobs, their lives on high-speed eternal recurrence, day after day. Uninterestedly unfulfilled, they continue working and living and existing as they always have, without care or interest or excitement or human emotion to disturb productivity; overspecialized and undertested in reality, they care not whether they work for the betterment of society, of others, or of our planet. The industries of technology and finance and all the others provide the occasional perk – free food, gyms in the office, massages, trips to Hawaii – but to what end? People are lured deeper into the limbo of their existences, deeper into that profound apathy, that profound disinterest in the new or in change from which they will never be lured out.
And, working at my office each day, I can feel myself falling into a kind of limbo. It’s not unpleasant; my job is interesting and involves many things I love. It is only the fact that I work at a school that keeps me from reaching such somnolence. I interact with students, with other individuals learning, playing, changing; and I myself learn, play, change.
I have no clear idea what it is I wish for from life. I know that I’m interested in teaching, that I like working directly with people; I know that I want my job to have aspects connected to the environment and to Asia; I know that I want to help people less fortunate than myself; I know that I want a job that allows me to have a family and friends and do the things I love to do. But I also know that I want to ensure that I never fall into the unthinking limbo I see in the Metropolis-esque scenes around me. I see those who have chosen different paths, those who are unsatisfied, challenging, combative, or even fully outside society – and I gain hope. I think about my students in Rebgong and I gain hope. For as humans, we are apparently destined for greater things, for the ability to change ourselves, others, and our environment; for the ability to think over what we’re doing and who we are and consequently, to use a Calvin-and-Hobbes-ism, transmogrify ourselves out of limbo.
As such, I’d like to see some more transmogrification in America – it would do us all some good.