We are really funny creatures in the way we perceive our existence. We see things in sequences, in a marching line of time, but that is only part of the story. What we don’t often see is life itself. Life that is not linear at all. Life that has no up or down, no depth or width. Life that is so beautiful and vast that it is utterly incomprehensible.
And so we make it comprehensible and manageable by imprisoning life in time. We make life ours by seeing it the way we want to see it, but in the end we become fools because we have not changed the nature of our existence, we have only limited our own choices and perhaps stunted our own happiness.
We often say that life is a game but we imagine that game to be finite and the rules to be very particular. Like a chess match. We see ourselves as pieces on a chessboard, and we fall into the illusion of believing that the only way around is to properly move from one square to the next.
But what if we don’t have to? What if the object of the game isn’t to win but to play? Why can’t the pawn then move once to the front and four times to the left, or twice to the back and three times to the right? If we change the purpose and object of the game, how we move and why we move change as well.
We see our lives and our choices in black and white terms. You either pick this thing or you pick that thing. You do this or do that. You’re either going to be happy or unhappy. Rich or poor. Successful or unsuccessful. And so we put every single thing we ever do or believe in into a box and we make up very specific rules for that box. Rules that sometimes don’t have to exist. Rules about where the fork goes, and if you can drink soup out of your bowl, cause scooping out bits of it from the bottom of the bowl with your spoon seems like a stupid idea, although certainly proper if you’re dining in fine company.
We make up a lot of rules and we forget that we make them up. We follow them and we don’t know why we’re following them. We find jobs and then we get stuck in them. We find marriages and feel abandoned in them. We do this and that, go from here to there, follow what we think we need to do, and we spend our lives in monotonous automation.
And if this is how you see the world then you are playing a very finite game of ‘who can get to the top’. A ‘game of thrones’. A game you are most likely to lose because the top is cramped and the rules are even more stifling.
You want to play a different game. A game where your decision to do this or that, to move left or right has consequences but consequences that don’t pull you down, or put you at the back of the line, but can be overcome because the purpose of this game is to play again and again. To love again and again. To connect with people over and over and over again.
This or that is not the problem. It’s how we see the consequences of this or that decision that will ultimately decide our happiness and reveal the kind of game we are playing.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer AP x90.