As many of you will know from previous posts, I consider myself to be an Existential Philosopher. Indeed the act of Gender Transition can be seen, as a very solid example of Existentialism in action, but perhaps more on that another time…
One of the key facets of Existentialism is the acceptance of the fact, that we have a remarkable freedom to choose our own path. At any time, we can act in any manner we decide. This is an intoxicating concept, that leads to some interesting challenges.
Many years ago, whilst I lived in Bristol, I would occasionally take late night walks across the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Brunel. This superb structure spans the Avon River Gorge, and is around 80 metres above the water. Every single time I reached the Mid Point of that bridge, the compulsion to gingerly peer over the barrier at the dizzying drop beneath my feet became too great to ignore. Despite the fact that I knew I would be crippled by fear, I just had to stop and look. The height didn’t bother me, I was quite happy tearing around the sky in a two seater aircraft. This was another fear, an altogether more brutal terror. There were just two things separating me from a long fall, and a large splash, a waist high railing, and my freedom of choice. I was experiencing what the architect of modern Existentialism, John Paul Sartre, termed as the “The Vertigo of Possibility”
What Sartre recognised was that the desire to survive, to live, and continue existing, becomes challenged by the possibility that we may choose to die, simply because we can. The resulting fear and anxiety is a very tangible reminder that we really are free to act as we wish. Continue the walk, or step over the barrier.
Why is this relevant ?
This weekend, I am living with a constant sensation of Vertigo of Possibility. Circumstances present me with a choice. However, unlike a late night stroll across a beautiful bridge on a clear moonlit night, neither option is particularly appealing….