Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scenario 5: Life As An Ant (The Terrarium Theory)

Setting: A hidden park, a very wide ocean’s distance from here. It is a very beautiful and breezy summer afternoon, with clear skies and rich, natural aromas in the air... lost somewhere in time.

There is a forest far away from here. It is thick and dark and unwelcoming to the neighboring human population, with darkness that seems, to them, to creep out from its depths at times. But not a mile deep into this forest is a clearing where a beautiful little park is hidden away. Today, old men sit and play games of whit and strategy for fun among the park's wooden tables and benches. Their voices stay relatively low due to the civil nature of the games, as well as a calming presence which is a gift of seniority. After a bit of rustling, a young man emerges from the dense wood, apparently lost. The old men pay it no mind and the young lad walks cautiously over to them. He seems to be in disbelief that such a place could exist and that such an amount of old men could be found here.

YOUNG MAN: E-... Excuse me. I’m sorry to interrupt, but it seems I’ve gotten lost and would be obliged to carry on my way if I could once again find it. Would any of you gentlemen happen to know exactly where I am? Or… where this is?

No answer. The old men continue to chat and mumble disapprovingly at each other, wrapped fully in the competition of their games.

YOUNG MAN: Excuse me… sirs…

An Old Man sitting nearby shouts in victory as his fists are thrown straight up above his head. His competitor, unaffectedly, gets up and moves away, accepting his defeat.

OLD MAN: Ah, hello my boy! Happens to be I didn’t see you standing there!

YOUNG MAN: Yes, that’s fine. I was just wondering if you could help me-

The Old Man interrupts.

OLD MAN: Help you?! Why of course I can help you! Come sit here my boy and I’ll help you just about right whatever’s wrong with ya!

The Young Man, weary from his wanderings gladly accepts the invitation to sit down, although he’d rather leave this strange place and be on his way. He begins…

YOUNG MAN: Well, you see…

The Old Man interrupts again.

OLD MAN: Yes, I see fine! Care for a game of Chess?!

A look of dumbfounded shock takes hold of the Young Man’s face.

YOUNG MAN: Chess?

OLD MAN: Yes, Chess! Ha, ha! A man’s game. Just play one short game with me and I’ll help you be on your way to wherever it is you’re aiming to go.

YOUNG MAN: I’m sorry, I haven’t the time. I’d like to be on my way before the afternoon passes. All I want to know…

Seeing the look on the Old Man’s face the Young Man pauses. The Old Man seems to be pleading without words or listening to anything that the Young Man is trying to say. It is hopeless, he realizes. He won't get answer until he plays, and since he has no plans that can be fulfilled at this juncture...

Fine. One short game.

The strange pair play one short game. The Young Man’s defeat is so swift and abrupt that he becomes embarrassed and explains that it has been since he was a boy that he had played Chess. He accepts another game’s challenge and loses just as swiftly. This continues for an hour, with no sign of the Young Man being able to hold his ground for any longer than two or three minutes at a time before being lured into some masterfully executed checkmate that he didn’t at all see coming.

YOUNG MAN: Alright, enough of this. I can’t understand how you’ve managed to beat me so! I’ve analyzed every possible move, every set of plays, every step of a pawn or slide of a Queen and just when I’m sure it’s safe to move…

OLD MAN: Ah, yes, there is much to learn from a game of Chess. Ha, ha! But also, there is much around you that you may learn and that relates to Chess. Let me explain something to you my boy…

In everything there is an order. It is a balance that is one and the same in all things. Our attempts to escape it are futile, for it encompasses and includes us and our nature. It is the great equalizer. For certain, just as you can not have a day without night, you cannot have life without death or upward without downward. Down to the smallest particle of the smallest thing is this law embedded into the very fabric of existence. Now, this rule applies to Chess. Chess is about balance. For every pawn you take, I take a rook of yours. For every bishop I let you steal, your Queen becomes ensnared. Give and take.

YOUNG MAN: Well, I can understand such a premise on the board, but I don’t see how anything apart from what’s in front of us now relates to this game we’re playing.

OLD MAN: Hmm. I see. Well, are you familiar with politics?

YOUNG MAN: …It is a subject too often argued about and not often kept quiet about. I don’t care for your or anyone else’s politics. I’m sorry sir, I’d rather not speak of politics.

OLD MAN: Ha, ha, ha! A good answer! As well as being one I happen to sympathize with. However, in my old age I find it altogether foolhardy to ignore the most pertinent issues which shape the parameters in which we are allowed to exist. Eh? Ha, ha! Tell the truth kind sir, is it not true that there are men who rule over you and your dominion? Is it not so? Has it not always been so? Will it always be so? So why then shun the contemplation and discussion of what set of rules and guidelines you and your fellow man must live under today? Perhaps you may uncover something that had not been seen before... Surely you don’t purport to inform me of how you can choose to live anyway you want. For if you wanted, could you go aloft and crawl back to your mansion and your maids and peasants and rich foods and beds?

YOUNG MAN: But good sir, I have not a mansion or maid, nor could I go back to them if I had, because I am completely lost!

OLD MAN: The point is, son, that most of us desire to live in a manner or custom that will never be provided. In youth, we wish many things and aspire to much, but eventually we aquiesce and relinquish our dreams to the hands of those that crafted them in order to keep us pleased with our little lives and diluted by such aspirations. We accept the brutal "truth" that we cannot rise any further, so now we must make good with that which we have. Whether its lavishly, slovenly, adventurously or rebelliously, we all wonder at the thought of living out our dreams at one point or another. How often do we meet those goals? Not because of the rules our rulers of men have set forth… but because of our lack of awareness to what is TRULY going on. Why were those the dreams that inhabited our minds in the first place?...

Look here...

These pawns, they are you and I. The proletarian; the working man. For even nature has its workers- are not the bees that feed their nest the slave of their master? Or is their work their highest nature and the Queen their slave because she not a place to fly away to? Are we not disposable to those that would seek to use us as shields or to coax us into believing that we are the descendants of Alexander’s warriors? For what? To lead us all to die so that they may live, and richly at that. They lead us to death not only by having us comprise the majority of their armies; they lead us to death every day that we "accept" our "roles" in life and shy away from our higher desires.

These rooks, knights and bishops, are they not the lower law? The local enforcement set to keep the pawns in order, marching forward to their deaths as slaves to their to master’s bidding?

This Queen, is she not the highest law? Can she not level you with one swift sweep, without any appeal or plea? Is she not more flexible and deadly than her servants? When she strikes, it is quick and it is fatal. You cannot get around her and while she is one who is thought to protect you, it seems it is you that sustain her ability to kill.

Our Kings in this little game, surely, they must be the fat and rich and wealthy. The elite who move not unless need be moved from harm’s way? And all the while we shed blood and they sit still, comfortable and surrounded by this wonderful system of protection that has been constructed.

Yes, it all seems dismal, but what’s worse is the hand that moves the pieces, mistaking this all for a game.

So now, tell me, lost traveler, is it you who is of sure foot among the unfamiliar forest or would you like to sit and offer some opposition?

To even his own surprise, the Young Man is absolutely intruiged.

YOUNG MAN: I-… I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d like to do… at all...

OLD MAN: And what a wonderful state of mind to be in, my good traveler. Ah, Imagine that! If all these bourgeois leaders and delegates didn’t know that theirs was the best way our country, or even, the world should be run! If religious leaders didn’t know that their rules were the only ones trustworthy of guiding the human populace into the Heavens! Imagine if others didn’t know what was best for us!

YOUNG MAN: Well, I don’t know how I’d feel about no one knowing anything.

OLD MAN: Ah, but imagine the limitless possibilities in a world not of knowing, but of understanding! Empathy my boy, empathy! Hate is created from a distortion! It’s purely a misunderstanding; an inability to empathize!

YOUNG MAN: E-Empathy?...

The young man seemed very curious upon hearing the word. He decided to pronounce it for himself, as a very strange feeling came over him only hearing it. The Young Man noticed that the chirruping of the birds hopping to and fro from the beautiful ripened trees seemed to have faded out a long while ago in the conversation. Fixated on what the Old Man was so desperately attempting to convey, he mouthed the word again. The Young Man wasn’t sure if the word had ever left his mouth before, let alone been given enough time to be isolated as a particular thought. Just then, the Old Man’s eyes went wide. He seemed to whisper…

OLD MAN: Yes, my boy. Empathy is the key. Total perspective. You must obtain the bird’s eye if you are ever to be at peace and not let these single, minute events rule you. Do not be governed by your inabilities, rather strengthen your abilities to encompass fully those vices in yourself and smooth them out. Iron them so that your higher self may pass, unobstructed.

YOUNG MAN: I see…

OLD MAN: But this process does not occur over night, good sir. No, not nearly! However, you should not feign its realization. But, then how could I explain it to you?...

Stumbling over his own words for a brief moment, the Old Man seemed to be cluttered by thoughts and in his excitement was attempting to pull some simple allegory from his head. Finally, he had grasped hold of something. At that moment the Old Man exclaimed…

Ah, yes! Now picture this, if you will…

Say, just for the sake of argument, that you are no bigger amongst regular men than the size of an ant. You were born this way. You still see as a full grow man sees and hears as he hears, etcetera, etcetera, however, you have been born miniaturized.

Unsure of the direction in which the Old Man was heading with this, the Young Man nodded for him to continue.

Now, say, for argument’s sake, that since your birth I had kept you in a small artificial ecosystem which I had constructed of a flower pot and the top half of liter-sized bottle; something I believe most would consider a terrarium of sorts. Imagine I had filled the base with a bed of grass and leaves and dirt, and decorated it with a few flowers. For air, I had left the rim, so high above, uncapped.

You would live your life in this artificial ecosystem I had constructed and would come to understand the happenings around you of your own accord and in your own rite. Imagine if you would regard the blades of grass as stationary and to be used for bedding. Think of how effortlessly you might be able to dig to the center of your earth! Ha, ha! Or perhaps you might think the flowers to be some sort of shelter, which smelled nice and were soft to the touch. The fog would cloud your view of what you perceived to be ‘sky’ in the morning, when the dew fell and condensed on the glass. Only think of it and you will understand! Law would be completely different for you than for me, a larger being on the outside of your tiny, little, constructed world. Occasionally it might rain bits of food from the open circular top so high above and you might begin to sing and dance in praise and summons of it; all the while creating ideas and fantasies of from whence and what source your sustenance came.

The Young Man’s gaze was broken finally by his perplexed frustration and he shook his head wildly.

YOUNG MAN: I haven’t the faintest idea of what you’re talking about! What has all this bug nonsense got to do with-

The Old Man interrupts him, arms flailing wildly and bouncing up and down in excitement.

OLD MAN: Don’t you see, my boy?! What I’m merely saying is that since birth you had been so accustomed to your confines; my trickery had prevailed and I could have you all for my own! I could keep or kill you whenever I fancied to! And all the while you would be grateful! Not only grateful, but totally oblivious of the vast oceans and rainforests beyond your hollow, plastic, existence! You’d never know of the fantastic journeys and marvelous possibilities outside of what I’ve only shown you! Ha, ha, ha, aha!

His arms opened wide now, demonstrating his surprisingly impressive wingspan, the Old Man, mouth pointing upwards, shouted his creed to the sky and laughed heartily.

THIS IS THE REALIZATION YOU MUST COME TO! THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST SEE! Search for what is not seen, my boy! Know that there IS more out there and it is all for you to find! You have only to begin to look! Don’t accept anything as law that isn’t right in your heart! And never, ever, ever put an ounce of faith in that devilish word ‘can’t!’ HA, HA, HA! For Napoleon knew it not! Nor did the Buddha Siddhartha! And what of this man Mohandas Ghandi?! Knows he anything of the sort, this Mahatma or "Great Soul?!" And Plato and Aristotle, did they know of "can't?!" The more faith you put in that horrible invention, the more a disservice you do to your fellow men that stand beside you now and who once stood in your place. They knew nothing of the word so that you may have the choice to believe it or not today!

Upon catching his breath from the laughter, the Old Man returned to reality in order to address his company, who were presently staring at him with awe and confusion. But the Young Man’s eyes grew wide. In an instant, bright greens and orange tints that had never before revealed themselves in his eyes shown brightly and madly. It was as if those eyes had been opened up to view the world, and life itself for the first time. An ecstatic smile crept across the Young Man’s face, stretching muscles that had not since been stretched so far.

YOUNG MAN: Thank you sir. I’ve learned much here today, truly, but I must go now. There are many important things I should see to. Thank you.

With that, the young man shot up from his seat at the old, rickety park table and began his flight across the clearing back to the woods and his home. It was only after a few strides he did stop and turn back to see the old man with a thankful glance. But he was gone.

The Young Man searched for a long while in the forest, but eventually found his way. When he returned home, he told no one of the afternoon’s occurrences and never visited the park again. He resolved from that day forward to follow his heart and nature. That night, he sat beneath an oak tree, and wrote beneath the same light that Da Vinci, Hugo, Newton and Milton had written under- the light of a candle- and wrote these words:


‘Never consign yourself to any one set group of ideals or beliefs. It is then that we put restrictions on what we can understand. It would be a shame to deny your heart its nature and your nature its heart. When we cosign ourselves to pessimism and disbelief, we deny ourselves an essential right- the right to live. For me, that is not life, but a waking death… and certainly not a good strategy at chess.”



Leave the cave.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always amazing

2:03 PM  
Blogger SwatOrUrNot4040 said...

Some people are afraid to leave the cave in fear that they might discover something that they don't want to see. For some people ignorance is bliss. Also, don't you think people also grow to hate somebody not because they can't empathize but that they can empathize with people and they see themselves as that person. If they hate themselves then they hate that person as well. Maybe I'm just talking shit but I don't know. Write me back what you think.

7:31 PM  
Blogger SwatOrUrNot4040 said...

Would you cosider the knight that forces the pawns to their death since I want to be a cop? Sometimes its very hard to leave the cave and ignorance is bliss for some people

7:34 PM  
Blogger SwatOrUrNot4040 said...

Some people are afraid to leave the cave because people are terrified of the unknown.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I do believe that everyone is in fear of leaving their cave because they don't know what to expect. I find myself frightened at the discoveries and revelations constantly being stumbled upon and even the thought of such things stirs me. The truth is, I believe that it is for the best to view things from an outside view, and much larger picture. People hate what they do not understand. Also, people hate seeing a fault in someone else that they are aware of in themselves. This may be on a varying number of levels (subconsciously, consciously). We as a people are in denial of a great number of things. I find that throughout the works of ancients and intellectuals before us there are a few constant themes and messages that people have attempted to preserve. One of them is not accepting the status quo. BE DIFFERENT, because all it takes is being yourself. QUESTION EVERYTHING, because people who have more power than you will LIE to you. Let's not be naive. Let us not perpetuate the seemingly endless denial our nation seems to be in. Re-think everything. Think, period. It's already something most people catch flack for in our society, so let's continue to carry on the tradition before it's outlawed all together.

2:07 AM  

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