Faith, Religion, and Critical Reason

It seems as though traveling chronologically would make sense when it comes to belief. Seeing as it takes time to form thoughts, first typically adopted, then slowly edited. I always wonder if an original thought is even possible, or if our thoughts are simply a combination of what we’ve taken in. Is it possible to formulate something truly original? In my opinion that directly correlates to one’s perception of knowledge, how it is acquired, and whether one can transcend knowledge. After a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that transcended thought is very similar to imagination. Affected by prior information, yes, but original in some ways. It is imagination that creates progress and change in the human world. Some imagination does not work. In fact, I’d say that most imagination does not work, which is why we need erasers on pencils, 10 years of clinical trials, and skydiving equipment when testing new jets. Nevertheless, it is when imagination passes empirical tests of validity that progress occurs. But just like in quantum physics, chance is a very real concept.

My thoughts about faith, religion, and critical reason began as a child. My father is a born German Jew, and my mother was raised Catholic, but converted to Judaism before I was born. My father never really cared too much for synagogue, but he went on high holidays because it’s the thing to do. My mother very much enjoyed the Jewish community and was heavily involved. Ironic how that goes; the converts are often better members. Growing up, I was the only Jewish kid at Saint Francis Elementary School, so it became almost a challenge to maintain my religious identity; I was “different.” I had to be at chapel 3 days a week (it was mandatory for all students), but I didn’t have to believe what they were saying because I was Jewish – that is what I was told; “You have to go to chapel, but you’re Jewish so you believe different things.” I was never really sure what that all meant at the time, but I remember sitting in the pews thinking, “This all sounds nice, but it’s ‘a bunch of bull’ according to my father.” Naturally I became a skeptic, but my skepticism didn’t stop with Christianity; it continued into my Jewish beliefs. If what the priest was saying was “BS,” why couldn’t what the Rabbi was saying be “BS” as well? Anyways, I continued my journey through Hebrew school, Bar Mitzvah, and Confirmation all with a subtle and growing skepticism. I adopted the title of an “Agnostic Reform Jew,” basically meaning I was liberal, not sure about God, but I wanted to retain my Jewish Identity. I found myself often wavering between atheism and a strong belief in God. The oscillation was entirely correlated to my mental state as I moved between normality and depression. I grappled with the idea of God; on the one hand it’s ridiculous to conceive of such a being, on the other hand, what if he/she does exist and my not believing puts me in a terrible light. Superstition was instilled by my mother, so I definitely didn’t want to generate any sort of bad luck. If God did exist, I wanted him/her on my side.

As I developed into a young man my thoughts pertaining to God shifted. However, right when I began to think critically I hit some rough patches in life, and God became my saving grace. I took the responsibility out of life, made my existence God’s problem, and put all my faith into him/her. I couldn’t muster up the power to think because my mind went into survival mode seeking a concept that would let me live. My faith saved me, so I understand the need. Nevertheless, this period of my life ended, and a new era of cognitive development occurred. I stopped my superstitious fears and began to critically reason with the idea of God and faith. I put every concept on an even playing field. Yes the idea of God is ridiculous, but what if our conception is just wrong. Maybe God is some unquantifiable power without form that gives us consciousness, or maybe God is simply the prime mover but is now gone. I started studying Cosmology (very broad science, includes physics) and Psychology with two primary objectives: how do we think and what is all of this? Psychology seemed to be easy because people are all around us giving off cues into the depth of human cognition, and Cosmology left most of the concepts up to theories and models – all seemingly based off imagination, but empirically validated. Both topics are very ambiguous in their own nature, so I continued down my path of objective skepticism.

Atheism is too easy. It’s just another heuristic to make our lives easier. People love to classify. They have a favorite song, artist, director, country, color, etc. They put themselves in a box because it’s like checking off a to-do list. Accomplishment and closure are great feelings, but I stopped doing that. I opened up the flood gates of thought and allowed myself to really think about topics while removing my greatest fear: “That if I didn’t come to a conclusion I was stupid.” It’s ironic when I say that I did find a conclusion, and that it’s similar to my fear but applied to all of humanity: I do not believe the human mind has the capacity to understand any reality in totality. God is a concept that cannot be determined, but faith is both objective and subjective.

It seems odd to think of faith as objective and subjective, but it is indeed both. Faith is subjective in the sense that there is not a lot of data backing it, and people usually have faith where critical reason falls off. It is almost just a “gut feeling” for some people. One cannot prove that God exists or that miracles have happened, but one can have faith that it is the truth. This faith likely has a positive outcome on the person; it makes them feel good and whole – a feeling that I believe is wrong, but I admire. I think it says a lot about a person’s psychological profile when they say something like: “I wish I could believe in God; it would make my life so much easier.” Not to say that people who have faith don’t take responsibility for their own lives, but I have experienced and can say that putting one’s faith in God does take a load off. Now, how can faith be viewed as objective? Well, it all depends on how one views truth. Humans do not even know what gravity is, but people talk about it like it’s a well-known fact. The same goes with God and religion, but people are more skeptical because there is no empirical evidence. Well, if a person feels God’s presence and is convinced of his/her existence through various mental exercises either imposed or more innate, God can be just as real and factual as gravity.

The objective view of faith is critically reasoned. Following my belief that the human mind is incapable of truly processing and understanding any reality in totality, it makes sense that faith and critical reasoning are intertwined. Nevertheless, pure critical reasoning is more based off of psychology and cosmology, whereas faith is more concrete imagination. The typical view of critical reasoning is logical in nature, where there is typically a cosmological and psychological test. Why people do things falls under psychology, and why/how matter and all its interactions occur falls under cosmology. Every topic starts off with imagination, and that’s why I’ve been stressing these specific sciences and thoughts. Specifically put, I believe critical reasoning with regard to religion involves taking apart imagination and testing it with either psychology or cosmology. I use the term imagination very broadly, for example, the bible is considered imagination. It becomes valid through the use of critical reason, and if the imagination doesn’t pass muster with critical reasoning, faith is the bottom line. If it passes through faith, the concept is considered false in the mind of the analyst (any person).

Now we will try to put all the pieces together in a way that can be more easily understood. Imagination is where one begins. This imagination is tested with critical reasoning. In most cases, and in the case of religion, this means some sort of logical test. This can be done using mathematics, experiment, observation, etc. all essentially tied to either psychology or cosmology. If the thought passes the logical test, then it is considered a truth/fact. If this thought does not pass a logic test, but is still held to be true for a reason that extends further than logic, it is considered faith. Religion attempts to prove faith through critical reason. If one declares stories and ideas to be fact, and convinces others of the validity using faith, it is faith that is being created through critical reasoning. An interesting thought indeed. Create faith to critically reason something, and once the critical reasoning is done the faith remains. If one adds culture and community, then one has a full-fledged religion.

To finish off I will add my emotional opinions on each topic. In the case of faith and critical reasoning I think they are heavily intertwined and both valid and truthful in their own right. I tend to lean more toward atheism, but like I said, I don’t believe the human mind has the capacity to comprehend any reality in totality. I think critical reasoning will achieve a conclusion that will be more testable and correct, but I do not dismiss the possible truthfulness of faith. Faith and critical reasoning are emotionally neutral in my mind. When it comes to religion I like the idea of community and ideals. I think a sense of community is always important, but the ideals must be positive: charity, etc. – absolutely no prejudices. I cannot stand religions negatively affecting people’s happiness (ex. anti-gay marriage). In addition, I do not like formalized thought at all, let people think, so with all this in mind I would say I’m neutral/negative. I think religion brings a lot of good into people’s lives, but it also has some distinct downsides. For me, the most important capacity we have is to be and promote the happiness of all.

True Love – Script

Lights up shows the set – a psychologist’s office with a chair and a couch across from each other at a slight angle toward the crowd. The room can be set up however, but there needs to be a door so actors can enter the set. Also, the lamp must have a pull-chain to turn on/off since the psychologist “operates” the scene change – should be made somewhat obvious to the audience.

 

Characters:

W = Dr. Chambee – psychologist (older man)

L = Lilly – patient (20’s)

R = Rob – patient (20’s)

H = Henry – patient (20’s)

 

(Front and center)

W: Good morning, afternoon, and evening. I hope everyone is doing well and has left their emotions and preconceived notions at the door, you won’t be needing them. Also, this story is between you and I, so mum’s the word – keep it to yourself. You see, before my writing career I was a psychologist, so naturally I have stories upon stories that I cannot repeat. But there is one, a story of a couple kids who changed my life forever. It never occurred to me until laid down my first dot of ink that it was about love, true love.

The play starts out with Dr. Chambee sitting in his chair reviewing notes mumbling. There is a knock on the door. Dr. Chambee looks at his watch and smiles.

 

W: Come in

W: Hi Lilly

L: Hi (looking exhausted and uncomfortable)

W: Please sit

(They sit and stare at each other for a while – dr. with a small blank smile, L just confused)

L: Listen, I’ve never done this before – I’m not crazy or anything don’t worry (nervous laugh)

(W still says nothing – still a slight grin and blank look)

(Pause)

L: I mean, I’m fairly popular at school, my dad drives a Porsche, you know. So I’m not like your other patients

(W just sits there staring intently)

L: I don’t see things, hear voices, sometimes I think I’m fat, but that’s normal for a girl my age, you know, right?

(W seems like he’s about to say something then doesn’t)

L: Why aren’t you saying anything? Aren’t you supposed to fix me?

W: What’s broken?

L: I’m not broken?

(Stares exchanged for another 5 seconds)

L: Listen, I come from a great family; I’ve been raised well in all regards. I had a great childhood, and college has been great…

W: Sounds like you don’t need me

(Stares exchanged for another 5 seconds)

L: I was raped

(Lights down and Lilly exits) (Lights up – Dr. in the same spot reviewing notes mumbling. Once again, knock at the door, looks at watch and smiles)

W: Come in

H: Hello Dr. Chambee

W: How was your week?

H: Excellent sir

W: Glad to hear it

(H sits)

W: how is it going with that girl?

H: Amazing! She’s so great – I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about her

W: Why try?

H: You know what I mean (laugh)

W: So how is your other relationship, still broken up?

H: Yes, yes completely I promise

W: Don’t promise me; promise yourself

H: Of course sir

(Henry leaves and Rob comes in)

W: Come in

R: Hey hey!

(silence)

R: Man you never talk; you just sit there

(sits down hard on the couch)

R: Man College is great – so great

W: Glad you’re enjoying yourself Rob (still a bit confused)

W: How is everything else?

R: What else? Haha (not even giving dr. eye contact)

(Silence)

W: Did you ever talk to that girl? Your childhood friend…

R: Nah I’ve been busy

W: If she is as you describe her, she probably won’t be single for long. I suggest you try talking to her. She probably remembers you too and is just as shy.

R: I’m not shy?

R: Yea, so anyways, I can’t stay long today, but same time next week, have a good one Dr. Chambee

(He walks out and Dr. Chambee just shakes his head with confusion)
(Lights down) (Lights up – Dr. in the same spot reviewing notes mumbling. Once again, knock at the door, looks at watch smiles)

W: Lilly, come in, come in

L: Listen, about last week

(waits for Dr. to say something but he doesn’t)

L: Maybe it was my fault, I don’t know…

(finally showing some authority)

W: No No Lilly, don’t think like that – what happened was not your fault

L: Well if I wasn’t so drunk…(starts to get upset)…I just don’t understand. I was having a good time, and there was this guy, he seemed nice… I don’t know, and then it goes fuzzy. It was just him on top of me…and.. that look he gave me, I don’t remember much, but.. God it looked like he wanted to kill me…

(Silence)

(W stares thinking)

L: Fuck, say something

(W gets up and walks over and sits down on the couch next to her, puts his arm around her…she leans on his shoulder and cries)

W: We will get you through this.

L: Doctor, My heart is crushed in a way I can’t explain. I gave him my heart; how am I to take it back? How is it mine when the man who did this to me has it? (sobs) It’s not mine; my heart is his. I can’t bear to take it back; how can I want such a heart.

W: It’s your heart, Lilly, please

L: Don’t you understand? It’s not anymore, and with no heart left to give, it’s safe with him. A place it’s not wanted nor needed.

W: Is this a rational idea Lilly? Do you really think your heart is safe with this guy?

L: No

W: Why not?

L: Because of what he did to me

W: Yes, and people that do these sorts of things have problems, often deep within themselves. They’re hard to understand, but the most important thing is that it’s over, you’ll never see him again, and it was not your fault. Please remember that.

L: But if I wasn’t drunk?

W: LILLY, you being drunk does not give someone the right to violate you

L: I know but…

W: There is no question here, you did nothing wrong

L: Ok, but do you understand he has a piece of me

W: No he doesn’t your body is yours…

L: I just told you my heart; aren’t you listening?

W: Lilly, you must take your heart back; you cannot live like this

L: You don’t understand

L: We were neighbors, he and I. Best friends as children, he would come over every day and we’d play in the forest chasing lizards and making up stories. He would construct dolls out of twigs and strands of leaf for me; thinking I would like them. (Lilly starts to laugh) He tried so hard to make me laugh. (A painful memory) He never did want to go home. We would play in the pond trying to catch fish and I always noticed he had stripes on his skin; at least that’s what I thought they were at the time. We got older and I saw him less and less. His parents rarely let him leave the house. Then one day they all just left; a day almost as painful as now. I can never forget, he ran to my house to give me one last gift before leaving: a piece of paper folded four times. He told me not to open it, but naturally I did anyways. I’ve carried it with me every since.

(Lilly opens her wallet, pulls out the piece of paper, and reads)

“Lilly,

Through many hours of solitude and self-reflection I’ve come to understand my meaning in life; and now, I want to share what I know with someone else. This sharing is called love.

Forever,

(W sits and listens)

Oh and one more story, I just remembered

We used to sneak into the old town church. Find the secret staircase in the closet and climb up to the top where the bell was. That was our spot. He would tell me scary stories and we would carve pictures of faces into the brick walls that surrounded us. Every hour the bell would ring so loud and on each ring we would scream, releasing to the world. We always made sure to stop before the noise of the bell stopped – that was the rush. The bell kept our hiding spot through the screams. It was his idea.

And another time we…

(gets up and walks over to light and pulls string) (Lights up – Dr. in the same spot reviewing notes mumbling. Once again, knock at the door, looks at watch and scowls)

W: Come in

R: Hey, h

(W finally showing total control and authority)

W: (cuts him off) cut the crap Rob

R: What!?

W: You’ve been coming here for 2 months and all you talk about are your goddamn good times. There are people in this world really suffering, and you waste my time with your bullshit. Why do you pay to see a psychologist if you’re so…(thinks for a second and calms down) I am releasing you as my patient, this is your last session

(cuts him off at session)

R: Wait (looks like he is out of breath, his whole demeanor changes)

R: Listen, I don’t… egh…(grabs his head and walks in a stressed manner: jumps between emotions then turns to depression) I’m just not good at talking, or…Just hold on don’t…starts to break down (sits on the couch) (silence)

I came here because…I had some issues with my Dad growing up (Looks ill) he did things to my mom and other women and made me watch. Once I turned 14 we left and I went to live with my grandma, the rest is history…

(silence)

W: Rob, I had no idea, why did you hide this from me?

R: (starting to calm down) It’s not you (catching his breath) Me…it’s me…I’m too vulnerable

W: So you put on your act

(silence)

R: (Nods)

W: You should’ve been honest with me, I’m so sorry for getting angry with you

R: It’s fine, I guess we needed to get that out somehow

W: Yes, that’s true

R: So now what do I do? I’d really prefer not to talk about specifics

W: You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, of course

R: Do you know how hard it is to still be a virgin in your senior year of college?

(Knock)

W: Oh, we’ve been here for well over an hour, the next person is here

R: I don’t even know how to treat a girl

(Knock)

W: (Yells “Hold on” to the door)

R: I want to love; I want to make someone’s world

(Knock)

W: One second (to the door)

Rob, are you ok, will you be ok till next week?

R: That’s all I want…

W: Rob talk to me

(W reaches for the cord)

R: Don’t pull that fucking cord, I need you

(Lilly walks in)

R: (Stunned – deer in the headlights) Lilly

L: Oh my God

R: (Looking scared and shocked)

L: (starts to dry heave)

(W looks shocked and frozen – hand still on the pull-cord)

L: (sadness turns to anger) You Fucker!

(she lunges at him – jumps on top of him and starts punching him. He gets control of her arms and she spits in his face)

R: Lilly, listen

L: No (coughing and crying) no how could you, who are you

R: (looks like he wants to die)

L: (starts to calm down and looks like she wants to die as well) I thought you were different.

(stands up and starts to back toward the door shaking)

(silence)

R: Lilly, please…

L: (right before she leaves the door) When I was a little girl I believed that one day someone would love me. I believed that I could love and be loved. ((depressed) shaking her head slight laugh she pulls out the letter) I believed this.

R: (Says nothing, but his face says: “But I love you”)

(Door slams)

 

Rob is still in the same position, not sure what to do.

 

R: How do I fix this?

W: Is what she said true?

R: Yes

W: Then I believe our work here is done

R: What do you mean?

W: You must know I need to call the police

R: Go ahead

(Dr. Chambee picks up the phone to call the police, he doesn’t dial and listens to Rob speak)

R: I loved her, I truly did, now, I still do. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. The only ideas I have of love are from my parents. I thought I was doing it right. She started telling me to stop, but I thought that was just part of it. (Rob looks up) What do I do?

W: What do you want?

R: I want to understand what I did wrong. I want to know what love is. It’s as though I have a cloud over my head making my vision and thoughts unclear. I see her and want to know her, but I don’t know how. It’s not like when we were kids. Doctor, I felt something in her gaze, and up until the moment she told me to stop the feelings didn’t stop. It was like a vibrant warmth in my chest and pushed its way to my mouth and made me smile. She made me smile in a way that hurt. Can’t you understand she’s the only way I can leave this pain.

W: You’re the boy from her story; you were neighbors

R: She talked about me?

W: Yes, but Rob, I don’t think you understand what you’ve done to Lilly. She feels violated emotionally and physically; I don’t think this can be fixed.

R: Well can I apologize at least?

W: I’m not sure approaching her is a good idea.

R: What if we spoke here?

W: I don’t know if she will be coming back here Rob

R: Can’t you make her?

W: No Rob!

(Dr. Chambee slams the phone down)

W: You cannot force people to do things. You don’t have power and neither do I. There is no amount of control over another person’s life. You forced her (starts to cry), can’t you see what you’ve done. I must tell the police. Dammit Rob, Dammit. My livelihood is at stake…

R: Make the call then, I don’t care

W: Rob you’ll go to jail

R: I belong there

W: You took away her free will. You wanted to control her; you thought that was the only way you could have her

R: Stop, Doctor, please, I can’t…make the fucking call

W: You held her down, though her tears, forced yourself upon this meaningless girl

R: (Lunges at the Doctor and grabs his throat) She has meaning!

(Pushes Rob onto the couch)

W: Through her screams you managed to get aroused

(Rob breaks down completely)

W: And you took her free will and…

R: I never had any free will! Never. You think I did this out of control, you think that’s what happened but you have no idea. The contents of my mind are not black and white like you psychology textbook. Your plaque on the wall doesn’t mean shit when you’re with me because you’ve never had a patient like me. We live in this quaint small town where everyone grows up without the faintest illusion of grief. Parents nurture their kids into proper citizens by the book of God and teach them the righteous ways. The way people ought to be. Some cookie cutter technique to pop out robots of the divine word, and then there’s me. Nurtured by the hand of death and pain in that house. You think we’re all ‘understandable,’ you think we can all be fixed. We’re a product of our conditions in the bubble of our reality. My decisions, while mine, are not mine. You think I was there that night? Mentally? I don’t recall any of it. Blackness, nothingness, not the faintest memory of my parents or that house; I know I was there, I know what happened, but I see no pictures nor remember any sounds. All that remains is me: a product of hell.

 

(scene)

The Story of Mars

Excuse any typos/grammatical errors as this is a rough draft.

So here we are, sitting on the first intergalactic flight to our future home.  Its been about a year and we are just now getting here.  Its amazing, one year, and it feels like the blink of an eye thanks to the hyper-sleep chairs.  My name is Jameson, and I’m one of the few 100% natural humans left.  Everyone else has been updated.  I missed the birth update cutoff, and decided not to go in to get it done.  Its a free treatment, something about the government trying to push the human race forward, but I just feel like some things are lost after the update.  Maybe its love, or soul – if those still exist.  So anyways, I’m on this trip with my buddy ledgwig and his fiancé Sarah, both of which are about to wake up.

Ledgwig…ledg…ledgy old pal, WAKE UP!

“WOW (cough-cough) would ya look at that!”

I know its absolutely amazing, I’ve got to say, its a lot redder than I thought it would be

“Come on, Jameson you really didn’t know it was red”

I knew, just didn’t think it was that red, I don’t want to hear anything out of you, I haven’t updated yet!

“Oh yea, so when are you going to?”

I don’t know, maybe…

“Oh please, get off that love, soul mumbo jumbo, its all fake”

To you, I just don’t know, maybe there is something that Ill miss out on if I update

“Like being amazing and genius?…hardly”

Enough, Enough, we’re landing soon.

Loudspeaker: “Ladies and Gentlemen please pull down your safety harness, we will be landing shortly”

“Jameson!”

Oh, yes Sarah, how was your sleep?

“Pretty good, doesn’t seem like a year, do I look older?”

Of course not! Wow everyone, would you look at that, its amazing!

“Just as I would have expected, a rough landing due to the changing atmospheric pressure.”

Oh shut up and enjoy it Ledgy!

We pulled into the docking station, got off the ship, and took a picture with a photo of Neil Armstrong, he had been dead for a while…its 2192 after all.

        After the festivities I was brought to my home, a nice 2 bedroom pod off the main dome.  We were the first to land, and many more ships were arriving tomorrow.  As I lay in my new bed, in my fully furnished new home that cost me $20,000,000; I was fairly satisfied.

        Back on Earth, civilization had moved underground.  Once the earth ran out of oil there was mass chaos and war.  Close to 5 billion people died, and the nuclear wasteland that was the earth became inhabitable.  I was one of the few that invested in the underground infrastructure, as well as martian terraforming.  I had a feeling things would go south as the oil dried up, and my investments paid off heavily.  I became one of the wealthiest people on earth as I continued to invest in the idea that humans would destroy all that was good on the earth.  My status as a successful businessman followed me to Mars despite the fact that I donated nearly all my money to charities before I left.

Since I was a young boy, my father always had dreams.  But they remained dreams.  He always thought that if he worked hard, he could buy the freedom to do what he wanted later in life.  Long story made short:  He died full of regret, having worked so many hard years just to get by.  I grew up knowing that I should do what I love, and that money would follow.  That’s what he told me to do at least, but I was too stupid to listen.  I worked hard in the banking system, made investments, and slowly climbed my way up the social and financial ladder.

I always knew it was a mistake for me to fall in love, so I kept my walls up.  My meager beginnings could not have been changed into the lavish lifestyle I enjoyed If i had fallen in love.  But at what cost did my walls remain intact.  I had accomplished my goals, but had forgotten the purpose of life along the way.  The dream, the desire I had for more and more clouded my perception of happiness and reality.  I was empty and incapable of letting go.  Every time there was an opportunity for something more I could feel the air in my lungs press towards my neck and I restrained, allowing myself to not go any further.  I talked to a psychologist.  He taught me about love, and everything.  He explained to me things that sounded so strange, yet made sense.  I never understood that there was truth behind a girl “giving her heart.”  I thought that was just an expression, not an actual thing.  He showed me ancient texts, the real meaning of love and what it means to be a human in this crazy mating phenomenon.  There is science and structure behind the roses and poems.  There is an underlying meaning, a sentence.  Something that is incorruptible and pure.  Timeless phrases that grasp your hand and pull you through the process.  He taught me how to love.  I just needed to lower my walls and let it happen.

He was a wise man.

Back to what we were talking about.

The government began mandating human updates.  What was once a luxury reserved for the rich became a necessity for all humans.  People were smarter, able to contribute to society in a better way, and learned how to conserve and recycle.  People think it odd that I don’t update, but I’m a believer.  I believe in love and that being a genius is not the answer to happiness.  The doctors, the virtual reality, everything pointed everyone towards updating, which replaced cells with microcomputers, and programmed neurons to fire a certain way.  To be honest I don’t completely understand it, and that is because i’m not updated.

        People have this fixation that I know less than them, which is true, but I know of things they cannot imagine.  I have an imagination, and I can feel pain, and happiness, in a totally different way – the way moses, and jesus did.  But enough with my mortal mind, sleep is what I need.

        Awoken by a new sight, the roof of my pod opened and I could see the spaceships coming in.  I scurried to get my things together, I really wanted to see the newcomers.  By the time I got there almost everyone was already off and on their way to their new homes.  It was slightly disappointing.

        I went back to my pod and got ready for my first day at work, I was going to be a grocery store manager.  Everyone was given a job to do, even if it had nothing to do with their skill set.  Once I got to the store I was quickly given instructions, and then left to get to work.  I needed to learn the new food, it was different.  Genetically assembled proteins with different flavors like poultry, beef, and fish.  The vegetables were grown in the store, and regenerated right after being picked by the customer.

        The first day on the job was easy, there were only a few people that came in, which is what I thought would happen since there were only 150 of us in this new world so far.  The population is supposed to rise to 100,000 by the end of the year, and that is all that this dome can support.  There is another dome being built 20 miles south of here.

“Excuse me sir”

yes?

“where is the bread?”

aisle 3

“thanks”

Hmm…people are still the same, ask before they look.  No matter, the real issue is that everyone that comes to this colony already has a family, seldom do loners like me come.  I started to think.

        Ive been doing the same thing day after day for the past month and nothing exciting seems to be happening.  Maybe moving to Mars was a bad idea.  I feel like my life is paused, but i’m still getting older.

        I walked to the same gate I exited off of as a new ship was arriving.  I waited anxiously, maybe to meet someone interesting, like a soccer player, or another un-updated human.  Everyone got off, and in the back of the croud, with a very lost look on her face was this girl.  I had no idea who she was, but I had butterflies the second I saw her.  My initial instinct was to loose the eye contact and walk back to my pod, but I stood my ground.  My mind was racing, my heart was pounding, and I just thought, give her attention, you don’t need any attention, just give her some.  Thats was the secret I learned early on in my business career, it’s impossible to be nervous if you are the one giving attention.  Wanting attention makes you vulnerable, and creates the possibility of rejection and humiliation.  You would never be nervous to tell someone they just won the lottery.  So I walked over to her.

…Hi

“Hi?”

you look lost, have you lost your party?

“No im alone? Can I help you? I really must be on my way”

ok, yea of course, bye.

Wa..wait..hold on!

“yes?”

You’re alone?

“is it a crime to be alone?”

no its just that, most people come in families

“look buddy, I don’t need you saying…”

Im not saying anything like that, I came alone also

“Is this not normal?”

Are you updated?

“How dare you question my intelligence!”

Ma’am I am so sorry, I did not mean it that way, Im not updated either

“how do you know im not updated?”

Well I don’t…but I have a feeling

“well you are right, im not.”

Whats your name?

“Kara”

Well my name is Jameson, and it is very nice to meet you Kara!

“thanks, I really think I ought to be going”

yes, of course, would you like some company?

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt”

In my spare time I had been studying ancient texts on love, and trying to remember what my psychologist once told me.  I wanted to know the sentences that guided emotions, the phrases that could portray love, and the teachings to heal a broken heart.  The language of love is a strange one.  Its like a new language.  The sentences and phrases are odd, but they make sense.  They are the raw form; what we really want to say but don’t know how.

Kara and I walked back to her place, which happened to be pretty close to mine.  We talked that night for hours, about earth, and people, and how the updates have destroyed the little things in life.

I think we should go on a date tomorrow, Kara, what do ya say?

“hmm.. a date? Why should I date you?”

Well, Im a trustworthy guy, and I think we should go on a date so we can share some happiness

(Thats the honest answer, no catchy phrases or one liners – thats what she wanted to hear)

“Do you believe in love, Jameson?”

well of course, don’t you

“no”

oh, well why not?

“because it is just a word, it has no meaning”

It is not just a word, but it also has no definition, yet it is not the opposite of anger or hatred, and it is not synonymous with happy.

“then what is it?”

I don’t know, but the opposite of love is nothingness, emptiness.  Kara, you believe love is a word because your heart is not able to be given to someone.

“why would that be?” Kara asked

Because it’s still with someone, and that person is not returning the love

(kara starts crying)

“maybe this was a bad idea Jameson, I should go”

no, wait!

“goodbye” (kara runs out the door)

I didn’t see kara for a while after that, she walked into the store a couple times, to buy basic foodstuffs.  She always had his look of emptiness on her face, like life had no purpose.  I thought about her all the time, but maybe its just not meant to be.  I was rationalizing, and giving up because I believed there was no chance.  But I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to talk to her.

That night as I went to knock on her door she opened her door and started walking towards my pod.

Kara?

“yes! I was actually about to come and talk to you”

Really? Long time, no see.

“Yes, I really want to figure out what love is”

oh, well, it has been a while since I have been down that road, but I guess we can have a chat, come on in.

We sat there by the fake lcd fireplace and drank blueberry juice talking about love and human things.

People all want to get updated, I said, but don’t realize they are missing out on love, depression, and other emotions.  In order to feel the high or life, you must feel the low.  There can be no mountain top without a valley.

“I know” kara said, “its not even that I did not want to miss out, I just thought that maybe at one point I would regret the update, so I just never did it”

Im glad you didn’t

“why”

No reason.

“So tell me jameson, how to I get my heart back?”

well where is it?

“I don’t know, I mean, I fell in love many years ago.  I thought I had met my life mate.  He was my best friend, lover, he was everything.  But I guess he didn’t feel the same about me.”

He is gone, the first step of healing is accepting loneliness, Kara.

“But I don’t want to take my heart back, its too hard, he can keep it.”

Between tears she said, “I never got any closure.”

(pause, then Jameson continues)

Kara, your need for closure is because you have a relationship with your memories, it’s the same as kissing a picture, its not the real thing.  Stop living in the past and start living in the moment.

She looked at me, as if I could take the pain away.

“I guess that makes sense,” she said.

Of course it does, now if you want your heart back you need to accept loneliness, its going to hurt, but its necessary, think you can do that?

“I can try”

A couple weeks passed, and I heard nothing from Kara.  Then one day she walked into the store, with intentions of finding me.

“I didn’t think it was possible but I’ve done it! Its mine, im lonely but full again!” kara said

Great! I can’t talk right now, but meet me after work at my pod

“Ok, I will!”

Later that night Kara and I had dinner at my pod. We had some genetic steaks with a side of hydroponic broccoli and marshmallow for dessert.

“Tell me about thoughts and feelings, Jameson”

Well, feelings are simply a memory of a past event.  People say they have a feeling based off of what has happened to them in the past.  They’re dangerous because there really is not much truth to them in many cases.  Thoughts, however, deal more with the present and future.

“I don’t…Oh I guess that makes sense”

Yes, I may not be updated, but I know a thing or two

“What is a relationship?”

Well, a relationship is what happens when two people’s personal wants are met in a private union

“Ive never really had that exactly”

A relationship?

“Yes”

Well, where are you from?

Kara sighed, then said, “I grew up underground like most people, but I was the oldest daughter, so I was not allowed to know about love.  I had some secret boyfriends, but my duty was to take care of my mother in her old age.”

It all made sense now why Kara knew so little about these topics.  She fell in love with one of her secret boyfriends, but they could never be anything.  Maybe he knew that.

“That sounds rough,” I replied

“I guess” kara said, “I never really recovered.  I never learned what love was, or anything really.”

“What do most girls want?” Kara asked

Well most girls want to know the guys list

“what do you mean?”

well, they want to know what the guy wants, so they can make him happy.

“what does the girl want in return?”

Love, and to know that it is safe to give her heart

“what do girls want to hear?”

(Jameson thought hard for a moment.  Remembering all of the psychology books and ancient texts he had read, in addition to the wise man he had once known, he gave  the best response he could muster.  When the modern day twists are stripped away and life is broken down into its simplest form – what’s the answer?)

Well every girls ultimate desire is to hear a man say to them: I want you to make my home, bear my kids, and keep us comfortable for the rest of our lives, and in return I will promise to always love you and make it safe for you to love me in return.

“wow,” said Kara

what do you mean, wow?

“That sounds good”

Yea, I guess it does haha

Kara.

“yea?”

I like the way I feel when I’m around you, and I’d like to be around you more.

“what was that?”

that was me asking for us to be together, what do you say?

“of course!”

“how did that just work?  Its exactly what ive always wanted to hear, how did you…”

Kara, girls want the guy to initiate, and tell them what they want, remember…

“Oh yea, its amazing, you’re amazing, where did you learn all of this from?”

A wise man, somewhere along the line.

We sat there for hours.  I leaned in to kiss her, but i couldn’t let go.  I felt restricted.  The air in my lungs was stuck; I resisted.  My brain spun a web of thoughts and the walls I built for a younger me held firm as my body tried to let go.  I shook.  Maybe it was me all along that needed saving.  Maybe she knew that.  Kara put her hand on my knee, leaned in to me and whispered in my ear.  I stared into her eyes, and she stared back.  I exhaled, closed my eyes, and let myself go.

The Meaning of Life

Off the top of my head.

Shortly after the big bang the cloud of dust cooled and hydrogen atoms started to come together to form nebulas and eventually stars.  These stars’ gravity and heat smashed atoms together to create heavier elements.  The stars exploded in a supernova creating tons of stardust with carbon and other elements, which came to form our planet.  These elements eventually formed life, which is what atoms and elements seem to do with enough time.  You could say God comes in here, but I don’t buy that.  These elements: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, make up most of our bodies.  That’s all we are, stardust.

Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  An atom can be directly converted into energy.  The mass-energy equivalence proposed by Einstein states that mass is a property of all energy, and energy is a property of all mass.  Our bodies are made up of atoms, which means we are energy, or have a ton of potential energy.

Through many generations of reproduction we have evolved mostly as a product of sexual selection.  From the shape of our bodies, the way we walk, sweat, think, talk, all contribute to reproduction and mate selection.  Our genes want to pair up with the best possible partner so they can move on to the next generation.  That’s all we are; puppets controlled by our genes, our only duty is to pass our genes on to the next generation.

So here we all are, sitting on earth, spinning around the sun, which is spinning around the center of the Milky Way, which is drifting through space bound to crash into the Andromeda galaxy.  There really isn’t anything to worry about though because our sun will die long before then.

Everything we do to prevent imminent death is for what?  Our species will not live for eternity; people are just on a blind-guided route thanks to evolution.  Our species, our world, this galaxy, is just a small piece of a universe that is what, a bend in space-time?  Our universe is tiny, our universe is huge, the fact is; it does not matter because size is relative.  People have this concept of “big” and a “long time” but that is relative to the insignificant realm we live in.

If you are interested in joining me on my mental journey to understand the meaning of life and everything, I will save you some time.  The meaning is nothing.  We are here by chance, and if it were not this way, then there would be no discussion.  We are living in an immeasurable universe and our existence is faster than the blink of an eye in the universe’s perspective.  An asteroid can come and wipe us out at any time, or a supernova pointed in our direction.  There are so many things that could kill us all.  We are like ants living in a soda can on the highway.

Even though there is no meaning to life, we are still conscious beings.  We have complex neuro networks and psychology.  We can love, hate, and feel emotions that can deteriorate the very atoms that make up our bodies.  Since this seems to be our plight, enjoy every moment, don’t take life too seriously, and be happy.  Because our species, planet, galaxy, and universe is just a blink.