We, The In-Betweens

James Prashant Fonseka
3 min readFeb 25


For much of my life I have considered myself an end in the long and perfectly continuous but finite chain from the first life to myself. One single break anywhere in that chain going back 3.5 billion years or more, and I simply would not exist. It’s quite extraordinary to consider the entirety of the causal chain that led to my creation, and the creation of every single living being on our planet that has, does, and will live. It’s from the latter group, those that will live in the future, that I have been reconsidering my role in this cycle. I am not an end, but an in-between, and am shifting in realizing that I am less important and those who will come future are more important.

Perhaps its the ego, or simply youth, that spurred the feeling that I was an end. Maybe some people never feel this way, but it seems that most for at least a time in their life see themselves as a final product. Many societies and groups see themselves as the final or ultimate states. I suspect this is part of the natural appeal of eschatology and the particular draw of eschatological cults. Thinking we are the last, maybe best, can make us feel important. For those who are longing and lacking in connection, meaning, or self-esteem, such aggrandizing can lift a flailing soul. But such conceptions are fallacious. One day all in our nature’s grasp will collapse into nothingness, and that must be our certain end. But that day is very far away and until then, it is upon us to destroy ourselves.

History suggests that there are plenty of human who would destroy the world to make themselves and their groups feel important. The concept of total war, which has been applied continuously through human history by different groups from Byzantines to members of the Axis in the 20th century, could lead to just that given the kinetic power of weapons today. We’d be foolish to assume no one would dare unleash such destructive might, as what honor could be greater to the truest of megalomaniacs than to be the last; the end? To avoid such devastation, it is essential that we see the truth: we are not ends, but in-betweens.

I am an in-between man. I am the man who came after my parents, and precedes the generations that will come after me, whether I have my own children or not. As I deepen into this feeling of in-betweenness, I find not that my ego is hurt, but that my comfort increases. Actually, I am realizing that being an end is quite a burden, who really wants to be the last leg in a relay race? Is it worth the glory of winning? The truth is, for humanity there is no winning of that sort, but continuing. Knowing that I am not the last leg takes a lot of pressure of my existence.

I am not the one left after the party to clean up the mess. I am a part of a team, and my role is to just do the best I can, knowing that neither I, nor any of us will solve all the world’s problems. Growing up in a society that values our individuality so greatly, which is conceptually related to the idea of being an end, the feeling of in-betweenness takes some time to marinate. I’m sure this comes more easily and nearly universally to those who become parents. But even childless, the truth is none of us ends; we are all in-betweens. The only situation in which that wouldn’t be the case is exactly that which must seek to avoid.