Perhaps it’s because I live in Geneva, a French speaking city in Switzerland bordering France on its three sides but the north, that most of its buildings have, wait for it—French windows. I take no issues with their mere existence, in fact one of my favorite pastimes is reading while facing my bedroom’s open French window. It makes one feel like a medieval noble Frenchman gazing into his front garden, only when in reality, this “Frenchman” is a handlebar beardless Chinese darting involuntary glances at the opposite apartment building and its Divorce Club au rez-de-chaussée, now featuring fine eligible men in tank tops and more cold beer. Now when I sit in my armchair while facing my open French window, my backside sweats because of the warm woolen chair and my frontside burns from what appears to be a window to hell.
I don’t like my huge French window now in the scorching summer heat because I can’t install AC. The last time I was this bothered by the heat was summer 2016, and I was in Boston. Most if not all windows in Boston were slider windows that can support window ACs; my apartment building included. One searing afternoon when my PlayStation shut itself down because of “overheating” and I realized I was not so much sweating as I was evaporating, I knew I had to make an extra-budgetary purchase. Electricity bill went through the roof that summer but at least I had been one happy room-dweller.
Even less fortunate were my college days. A combination of awkward test score and limited college choices had sent me to a tropical island in China: Hainan, also known as the Hawaii of China, if Hawaii had denser population and dirtier ocean. Taking a minimum of three showers a day was a divine commandment, and the legend goes that the first person to have ever taken 100 showers a day had attained divinity, thereafter worshiped by the local people. Those who only took one shower in the morning stank themselves to social exclusion, and were given the moniker of “human spice bomb” by their roommates. To prevent myself from sweating my bed in the exact fashion of wetting my bed, I drilled two holes directly above my bed and to each mounted a propeller fan. It worked like magic and I never liked the concept of bed more, or I would have if my dormitory building’s circuitry weren’t too old for air-conditioning.
Some people after spending a long duration of time in a specific climate become accustomed to it, not me. My body still reacts to high temperature like a cube of butter in a skillet; my brain still falters when it overheats, rendering my IQ equivalent to room temperature; my head still spins like a figure skater when I find myself in a confined environment in high heat. I remember after college I swore I’d never go to a city of hot summer, then I ended up in Boston and unfortunately in 2016 there was the “once-in-500-year heat wave”; after Boston I arrived to Geneva and now the weather isn’t treating me nicely as well.
Despite my predilection for cooler temperature, there has always been this inexorable connection between myself and different elements of high heat, which has led to some fairly interesting thoughts as of late.
I revisited the Matrix Trilogy over the last couple of days and was reminded of its philosophical quest into existence: would we be better off embracing essentialism or existentialism? No answers were given as no answers could be given; it has been a debate boggling even the greatest minds across centuries if not millenniums. However, as Neo progressed through his convictional maturation he finally concluded that monumental meanings are embedded in our choices; I would argue this also applies to the dichotomy of essentialism and existentialism, or should I say the false dichotomy?
Things happened, happened, and couldn’t have happened any other way. How should I interpret this adage? Essentially or existentially? Myself, a person so incompatible with high temperature keeps finding himself drawn to the polar opposite of his icy core, makes the case of a fusion interpretation: everything happened, happened for a reason as the result of choices; there aren’t good choices or bad choices, there are just choices and, more informed choices. And if history is of any indication, it seems like I have an inseparable bond with high heat; essentialism and existentialism aside, I can be more certain now that what matters is I choose to attach great reasons to that bond.