“What is inside there?” I asked my 6 years old son, gently knocking on his head.
“There’s a brain in there Dad.” He replied.
“How do you know?”
He rolled his eyes up until his pupils disappeared and only the white showed. ”Can you do that?” He asked me.
“No.” I responded.
“Oh well. Then you’ll never see there’s a brain in there!”
This simple conversation with my son crystallized my suspicion that we are lost in what was supposed to be a game. Most of us are so absorbed by it that we have completely forgotten that it is all a game.
Mind you, let’s play a little game while we’re at it…
Describe a fire to a toddler who has never seen it before and has a very limited vocabulary. If you’re really into playing games you’d probably start making strange “wooshes” and “swishes”, hop and dance around to mimic a flame in order to hopefully convey the message. The toddler would probably join in and start hopping around with you, probably more out of amusement than at attempting to understand the underlying message.
To make things more interesting, suppose I aim a revolver at your head with one bullet in the chamber and promise to pull the trigger once every 10 seconds. Because you think I’m joking you do nothing about it. Much to your surprise and shock, the first 10 seconds makes itself known with a “click” of the trigger, signalling that you have another 10 seconds, perhaps your last. Suddenly we’re not playing a game anymore it seems. What do you do?
Many of us wake up every morning, at a certain time, get ready for work, withstand the wrath of an angry boss, get stressed up, maybe tweet about it, go back home, watch a box of flashing lights and music ( in the name of relaxation ) or maybe bounce around in different places (in the name of jogging), have sex (in the name of whatever), sleep and wake up again. Many of us put ourselves through this because we want to “live” a meaningful life and we want to give our children a better life and stuff like that!
As time goes on things become serious; suddenly one has to pass tests, be the fastest in a race, score goals and win debates. Before we know it we’re no longer playing. Deadlines, debit orders and debts aim at us like that revolvers I pulled at your earlier, loaded with one bullet in the chamber. Every month, “click”, the sound of a debit order. Every week, “click”, the sound of a deadline; “click”, the sounds of a job opportunity. We put ourselves through all this because we want to “live” a meaningful life and we want to give our children a better life and stuff like that!
When did we stop playing and start being so serious? In a way have no idea when my name, Vusi, became meaningful to me. Was it when my father gave it to me shortly after I was born, when I started responding to it or when I had to prove myself to people. I have no idea; all I know now is that I wear it like a garment which cannot be taken off. Conventional thinking pushes me to believe that there is no difference between my name and I.
It has dawned on me however that things are perhaps different:
Firstly, like implicitly adopting one’s own name, we have adopted this game of life which we have forgotten how to exit without killing ourselves. Like Hansel and Gretel who left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way back home, we too have lost our ability to be aware that this thing we call life is simply a game formulated by philosophers and influential people. Its rules change all the time to suite the interests of the winners.
Secondly we have attached all sorts of meanings to things which are otherwise completely meaningless. For example we have attached meaning to our names when in fact they are just noises generated in people’s throats. Just say your name out loud, repetitively and you’ll get my point. This obsession with meaning has driven us even further into a dark jungle of ideology where people do things because of what they mean rather than the actual effect they have.
I began this series by wondering if we can become more than what we already are. My view is that we are already everything we could possibly be. The reason why we may believe otherwise is because we have placed too much faith in time . Secondly we are lost in a jungle and cannot find a way home. As a result we have taken many things and elevated them with our minds and eloquent speech to mean much more than what they actually are. Perhaps this entertains us or gives us something to do.
Be that as it may, we have simple questions to contend with. How did we learn how to laugh or cry? Better yet, how do we laugh or cry? Scholars would probably spin a lecture about our brains and chemicals and nerves and muscles and contractions and stuff; but how did we know how to do this? How did we know how to swallow? The simple things…
Is it not therefore plausible to assume that we are naturally drinking from a well of incredible knowledge and wisdom as it. In many instances we don’t know how but we just do things; we don’t know how we love but we love anyway; we don’t know how we care, but we care anyway. All this from a very young age, before anyone could explain anything.
By trying to define everything we end up creating a problem where we have to define the definition, which creates the problem of defining definition itself. So we end up asking, if the definition is the definition then what is the definition?
Why can’t we just live without being bothered by defining life?
As a flame burns without the need for defining burning,
So we should live without the need for defining life.
For it is true, the flame will have to burn itself in order to know what burning is.
We would have to outlive ourselves to see what life is.
This is my final installment in this series, a Great Seduction. Thank you for joining me on this journey of thought. I hope you don’t take any of this seriously. After all it’s just flashy lights on your screen or if you decided to print this, yet another piece of paper with ink on it. Let me leave you with another short story…
About a year and a half ago I was teaching a young boy how to play chess. I explained the board, the pieces and that the whole point of the game is to take the opponent’s king. After a few weeks of explaining I finally setup the board with all the pieces to start playing. He reached for my king, plucked it off the board and said, “I win,” and started laughing!
Coming to think of it he understood the game so intimately that he rose above the rules I created to trap him…