My son brought home a plastic puzzle toy from the dentist last year. It was kind of in the tradition of the Rubick’s Cube, in that you had to reassemble the pieces just so, or at least one of the pieces woul be left out, and the sphere would be incomplete. I broke the damn thing trying to jam one last piece in after I swore I was close enough that I didn’t deserve to have to go through taking apart the entire thing again for the umpteenth time to try to get it right.
Sometimes, I think that this is how humanity is supposed to work on Earth, with the particular talents each of us are given, and the ultimate goal being to discover the right combination of technologies and then work together to build them correctly in order to make it out of the solar system and begin successfully exploring and populating the rest of the universe. Right now, we are in a stage where we have most of the pieces assembled correctly, but as long as we have men like Trump, Putin and Kim Jong Un in charge, and as long as we have widespread poverty, disease and conflict, we aren’t going to make it off of this rock intact. Eventually, almost all of us will go instinct, and our DNA will embed itself in some hibernating life form that will rise up again from the deep after the earth has replenished itself, or a meteor strikes to reboot everything.
Or, we will simply fail, and that’s it. We are like the team of coworkers you were with when you went and tried to make it out of the Escape Room–you almost made it out, but you did not. And, that’s it. On some other planet, somewhere else in the universe, a group of humanlike creatures are doing a better job of it than we are–or perhaps in a slightly altered parallel universe.
This might seem like a grim prognosis, and the truth of it all is probably not nearly as simplified as this. It could be that the humans who have actually figured out how to make it out of this dimension and off of this planet have figured it out, and they are not coming back again.
Every time I try to run toward a perfect way of being, I get sidelined, sidetracked, or readjusted. I try to become a saint, reading my Bible all the time, praying all the time, trying to turn the other cheek all the time, praying for others instead of wishing bad things against them when they mistreat me–the whole shebang. I even volunteer. Heck, I even went to seminary for an entire year of my life. But it doesn’t take long before I start to realize how unsaintlike I really am, still. I would argue that I even become less saintlike in my responses to others over time, the more that I try my damnedest to be an exceptionally virtuous and really nice person.
The same goes for anything else, be it a health plan or a plan to just eat and drink myself silly. Once I start going too far and too hard in one particular direction with something, I feel like something or someone starts to pull me back–or the Universe just begins creating equal and opposite reactions to my actions. For every good deed I do, I must commit some kind of bad deed. For every smart person book I read, I must go read some trashy gossip website or watch some dumbass reality show. The process doesn’t cease by having me simply seek moderation in everything I do, either. Seeking moderation is it’s own kind of extreme–extreme moderation–and this causes me to swing wildly away from it toward extreme immoderation of just about anything.
I can’t think of two ways of being that are generally considered opposites of each other that I haven’t in some way tried to embrace (more or less, within reason and civilized/moral decency, of course)–the feminine and masculine, the intellectual and the anti-intellectual, the spiritual and the scientific, the workout man and the couch potato, etc. The important thing to note is that something inside of me pulls me away from embracing any one particular extreme, even the extreme of being quite Christian and loving of Jesus and God and my neighbor.
Sometimes, I’ve declared that it is merely the devil, or bad, old habits that won’t die, which are keeping me from pushing past the pendulum of having an opposite force pull me back in the opposite direction. However, I am old enough now to wonder if it isn’t God himself, working precise universal laws inside of me, and the ultimate purpose is to prevent me from descending into a deluded state of idol worship that I only think is true worship of God.
In spite of my supposedly more mature approach to my internal pendulum, I am still not too old to want to give it the old college try–and find some random stupid thing that I try to push hard enough on that I push past whatever forces are trying to pull me back–and keep pushing until I end up someplace other than a middling, nowhere sort of state in life, which does seem to be my lot more often than not.