The search is for the meaning of your being. You decided that you cannot except that you exist simply due to evolution and procreation, and exist to help the human race continue to evolve and procreate. You must exist for more than this. You spend hours immersed in religious teachings. This makes you hateful of the world, and often makes you hateful of God, too. Why on earth can’t Jesus or the Buddha speak plainly to their disciples about what is what and what isn’t? Why all this insistence on paradoxes, double-meanings, deeper meanings, parables, etc.? You spend hours immersed in pictures of art and architecture and writings about such things. This leaves you feeling cold, as if you yourself had become a two-dimensional, static object on a wall in a museum. Then, there are human beings. At their best, they would seem to exemplify what you are looking for, at their worst, they are what you are trying your hardest to get away from.
And really, humans seem for the most part to be more like animals. They are content with their lot, and do not want to spend every waking hour (and ideally every sleeping hour) in search for the meaning of their being. Emphasis on the fact that they seem that way–for everyone is likely discontent to some degree deep inside about these matters.
Life must be more about working the jobs that make the most money to bring joy to replicants of your DNA so that they too may pass on whatever of quality happened to be inside your father and mother and you. Life must be more about the food, entertainment, experiences and information you consume. Life must contain the key, but not the key to happiness. Happiness is overrated. The search is for the meaning of your being, and the quest to make your being be something better than it was when it arrived on this earth. So far, you’ve done your best to simply make yourself worse than where you were when you started, then return to who you were when you first started to go bad. As souls go, you’re about as good as you might have been around the age of sixteen, which is to say you aren’t that great, yet.
There’s still so much work to do, and forty is approaching you fast, mercilessly.
The face you see inside the mirror is not your own. The times you live in don’t belong to you. The way you are around others is not the way you really want to be. But, it’s a hard lesson, a constantly repeated lesson to learn that you have to be so much more proactive than you ever thought was necessary–you can’t be like some chosen wizard boy along for the ride, getting all the breaks and having everyone exclaim your name with delight when they see you.
The world has become a digital world, and people’s brains and identities are shifting and changing, though they may not know it. The mechanical man, a man who knew how various machine parts fit together to make everything in his house work, the man who wrought ideas on paper by way of pen or typewriter–he’s a dead man walking in this world–you kind of know him but you mostly only access him through the ways of your father and the faces shown in movies. A man like Bullitt vs. a man like Bourne–each is encoded differently, wired differently inside his brain for how he will interface with the world. Even the supposedly rougher, flawed current Bond seems to be a digital man–a man made for a world of cyberwarfare and guns that go off at the command of a remote entity.
And, it’s only bound to get worse. Soon, the massive amount of knowledge and computing power you carry around in your pocket will be affixed to faces, attached to ears, and finally, embedded in skulls. Scientists will replicate everything that takes place on your iPhone onto a single strand of DNA that is now available for a quick affixing to the preforontal lobe.
Are you ready for it? You are being taken down this path, seemingly against your will. You woke up thirty-seven years ago inside a womb where complete freedom seemed to be the path your life would take. You came into this world a child highly irregular, incapable of cutting a true straight line with your little child’s coping saw you used to try to make the same wooden boxes your dad and brothers made. Theirs were straight and true, cut to fine measurement, crafted by individuals cast completely in the mold of the mechanical man. Then, your dad discovered computers, brought one home, took it up as his life re-boot at the age of forty, and you were indoctrinated into becoming a digital youth, a digital man long before many of your peers.
You arrived at college in 1994 more comfortable inside the computer lab than hanging out in clubs, flirting with girls around campus at the student center or the gym. You fought with all your might the way life seemed to be forcing you to become a digital man, but you ended up with a shoddy compromise–you chose a major of words instead of bytes or equations or DNA. And, how on earth did you think you could become a man of words unless you prostituted yourself for years at ad agencies, or sacrificed yourself upon the altar of some MFA Creative Writing factory?
You fought and fought in spite of the way reality was sucking you into its Satanic, digital mode.
You refused to own a cell phone until 2005, and even then opted for the cheapest, pay-as-you-go Walmart special. But, the path became more calcified, as employers hired you to fix and maintain their websites, not write their marketing copy.
In some strange way, you’ve become a lot like the greasy cliche of a mechanic, a jack-of-all-trades webmonkey, often working in environments surrounded by mostly males, while the females handle all of the customer-facing, strategic responsibilities. You try as hard as you can to get those around you to perceive you as an ideas man, a creative man, a strategic man, but at the end of the day, you are back under the hood, getting your hands dirty with code, fixing the broken pieces of the world wide web.
Some part of you yearns to join those men on garage reality shows, working on old cars, shooting the shit about guns and girls and football, having your brain reset to be as completely analog as possible in a world where even the lowliest grease monkey has to learn a thing or two about computers to know anything about cars.
You dream for that day of retirement where you can follow the footsteps of your father, who once seemed to have a monomania for computers. He uses them now for email and saving photographs he takes, and that’s about it. The man who once brought home the latest model of computer every year, and talked about computer programming all evening from the dinner table until bedtime–he now uses them as much as anyone who bothers to stay in touch with the outside world. Your retired computer programmer father would prefer to spend his time woodworking, making ceramic objects, tinkering with old motors, cutting up trees with his chainsaw, playing with his dogs. Something about the manic, digital universe seems well-qualified to line up perfectly with a young man’s world, a man who loves speed–things that will race about as fast as his thoughts, things that obey his commands and things he can control. Old men don’t want to die inside a digital world–at least none of the ones you know. Old men are too fully aware of the place they came from, and to which they shall soon return.
Ironic, then, that one in the prime of his life should love the digital world, the artificial universe humans have created to be most like the spirits of the air. Are the air spirits all completely false, and one who adheres to them even unto death will find himself inside an eternal furnace? Perhaps the urge is one born of knowing that if you die in love with the earth, you will be reborn on this earth–and at the end of the day, most of us would prefer to inhabit bodies we’ve known and are so familiar with, than try to explore an alien universe that exhibits physics completely unlike our own.