An Existential Nihilist Guide to Tying Your Shoes

An Existential Nihilist Guide to Tying Your Shoes

1. Put on some shoes. These shoes should have laces, but there aren’t really any other necessary traits for the shoes to have in order for you to tie them. Try not to stop and ask yourself if the shoes actually existed before you opened the closet door and pulled them out. Is the shoe still a shoe when it’s on your foot? Can you conceive of it as having the same fundamental existence if its holistic characteristics have changed? Are you still you when you put a shoe on? Do you even really need to wear shoes? Take them off and put them back in the closet for a while; you can probably go without. Step on a Frosted Flake crumb in the kitchen and swear loudly as it pierces your heel. Curse the amorality of the world (If a rational God existed, you wouldn’t have janked up your foot), and begrudgingly put the shoes back on. Ask yourself why your shoes kind of suck, and have a minor panic attack spurred by the anxiety brought on by the realization that they only suck because you think they suck and have determined your own culturally-influenced definition of suckiness, so they wouldn’t suck anymore if you’d just stop being such a fucking downer.

2. Take a nap.

3. Remind yourself that if you didn’t tie your shoes, and instead just went out and did your daily things that have absolutely no bearing on the world or universe in general and essentially just make up your systematic and delusional need to prove to yourself that you serve a purpose, which you most definitely don’t, and then tripped on them and fell and bit your tongue really hard and contracted gangrene and died, people would care, sure. But what do they matter? Does an exploding star give a shit if you shuffle off this mortal coil? Does a black hole go, “Aw damn, that cool bro died!” while devouring light itself? Hell no. You are so insignificant, “insignificant” doesn’t quite give the right impression. “Utterly insignificant” doesn’t even cut it, because it implies there could be some question as to your level of significance. You are non. You are nothing. You are the un. So you’d better tie your shoes so you don’t have some tragic (I guess) accident and have to consider the fruitlessness of literally every lived second of your life thus far while you slowly slip into a coma and die. Resolve to most definitely tie your shoes.

4. Cry, but only a little.

5. Wipe your tears off your face and slowly lick the saltiness off the back of your hand. Consider the ocean. Consider what it means to consider the ocean. Consider what it would be like to be a fish considering you. Sigh because that’s stupid; not even a fish would bother considering you. Fishy fishy fish fish…”Fish” sounds funny, right? What does that even mean? The essence of fish is a complex multicellular organism with a brain, and desires, and hopes, and probably little fishie dreams. And “fish” just…sounds…fisssshhhhh…sounds like…you can’t even think of the right metaphor for what a disservice that signifier does to its signified. Poor undignified fish-called creatures. Why do you taste salt? Oh right, because you were crying.

6. Accidentally get a vision in your head of you popping the cap off a bottle of beer in your mouth and all your teeth crumbling, leaving exposed nerves and searing white hot pain. Shudder. Look at your untied shoes. Poke them to see if touching them makes them more real because you can feel them, or less real because you felt the need to test their realness. Tell yourself you’re going to start knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that shoes are actually fish and fish are actually shoes because all meaning is subjective for the individual. Then picture what a grotesque monstrosity of a scene you would create at the beach, sticking your feet in a bunch of flopping horrified fish while small children looked on in abject terror. Wonder if subjectivity has a cosmological boundary, but then remember entropy. Raise an eyebrow and shrug your shoulders, because shoes are shoes, man. They’ll never be anything but.

7. Worry whether having bought a pair of shoes defines you as a consumer, because consumers are the worst. Realize that being anti-consumer is just as obnoxious. Take the shoes off and microwave them for a while, just to see what happens.

8. Stick your hands inside your warm shoes and pretend they’re fish. Gnaw absentmindedly on the laces.

Katie Sisneros