096: Ysonge

Verb: ysonge – (obsolete) Past participle of sing

TODAY on flaglock: Julian waxes nostalgic and gripes a great deal about life and existence.

I stopped to watch the leaves blow in the wind. Today I cocked an eye at the water bubbling its way downstream.

When you take the time, after your many homogeneous years of tedium, to actually stop and smell the flowers, you smell them again as a newborn. Sword Art Online gave me this food for thought – when will our computers be powerful enough to duplicate our world down to this level of detail? When will we touch a digital leaf and find ourselves unable to distinguish its artificial nature?

People will judge obsessive gamers (this is a twenty-first century phenomenon) for channeling their lives into a world that is not real. What these critics miss is that while the gaming world is unreal, it has a level of detail and possibility that ours does not. You can shine in that digital realm with little overhead and little effort. It’s not a daily rat race. You jump in and you have fun. Can you easily say the same of this reality? How often have you stopped in your tracks and taken the time to inhale deeply, and affirmed to yourself that this world is so much more than what any manufacture could produce?

If you have not done so, you forfeit your right to judge. What makes your world so special to make you look down on others who want to escape it?

There’s very little that can’t be tiled into a virtual reality that won’t fool me. To put it simply: I’ve low standards. Not much tethers me to this world besides the mentality that holds Facebook together and Google+ down: “everyone else is here. I’d be lonely if I moved.” If you trapped me in Sword Art Online with my family, I’d first lament my separation from the music of Rafał Blechacz.

For a spell, I adopted that policy: I stopped here and there and appreciated the world around me. People talked, the wind blew, and the sun shined. I did not think of Sagan. I did not think about how itty-bitty I was, nor how trapped I was on the surface of our tiny pale blue dot. And for a few blinks I was happy – happy to be here, happy to be alive.

Taking in the world and embracing it raw is an interesting experience. It doesn’t quite feel real. Once upon a time, when I was young and new to the world, everything felt genuine – there was novelty in almost everything, every day. Some of my clearest memories involve either lolling around the carpet or watching fog and rain on cloudy days.

“People are always setting conditions for happiness … I love life without condition.”

— Arthur Rubinstein (Life Magazine, 5 April 1948 – taken from Wikipedia)

I think that life is predictable, to an extent. But it’s not predictable to the extent that you can game it like mental math. Nor is it anything as formulaic as mental math – life is the biggest gamble you’ll ever make, from the moment you make your way into the maternity ward. Rubinstein was right: if you keep trying to play life like a game – or if you treat it like a contract – you’ll be sorely disappointed. Life is the dirtiest, most lawless, and the most unfair game to have ever been set up.

“You know how the saying goes – you lose some … don’t you?”

— Douglas Richardson, Cabin Pressure Series 2 Episode 2 (Gdansk)

Things will hurt, and they’ll hurt a lot. Maybe not skyscraper-jump-tier hurt, but a lot of hurt nonetheless.

“Ah, Springtime – the only season whereby any organism can ejaculate with abandon all over the faces of hapless humans in the relevant hemisphere.”

— Julian 39 Mazurka, 6B32H

To sum things up: stop being so expectant. Your house will burn down. Your wife will leave you. You will die cold and miserable. So what? Who judges you? Do you float into purgatory to face a panel of judges who mutely hold up little signboards? “Your score, Mister Smith, is six point five. Not very good, is it?”

Is my opinion escapist? Of course it is. But that lands it firmly in the same faction as that of any organized religion. And, like most other worldviews, I think that mine should doubly encourage everyone to make the most of this life.

I’ve been home two days now. I’ve finished The God Delusion, re-read Tartuffe, and had a gander at Wicked (which I’m enjoying immensely). For all I know I’m going to be Shanghai’d to Taiwan shortly for some work experience. My lanyard feels awfully lonely to be without keys, and my room is chock-full of my personal effects yapping at each other happily, glad to be back in close quarters in familiar territory. I find myself with six working pairs of earbuds and not the foggiest idea what to do with them all. (Use them slowly, I guess). It feels wonderful, though, to be home with the speaker set in my room: I can finally listen to Rafał Blechacz through something besides my tinny $1.50 headphones or my (acceptable) laptop speakers. I’ve been so careless as to be reprimanded verbally by my aunt for blasting the music too loudly in the living room today.

Oh, but it’s wonderful to be home.



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