I’ll be honest, geeks. I’m writing this more for myself than anyone else, but if someone gets something from it… all the better. I wish I knew the answer to the question “Why are we here?” – but does anyone, really? If you accept that science is valid and real, you know that your life and existence is a consequence of a chain of events that stretches back beyond time and human comprehension, and that every being in the universe that has ever lived is just a minuscule dot in the time-space continuum. All of human history, philosophy, science, love, hate, life, death, every meal ever cooked, every kiss given, every crushing defeat, every exhilarating victory, doesn’t really mean shit on a cosmic scale.
But maybe that doesn’t matter. What’s the purpose of life? Mu. Not moo, though I do think cows are better at being zen than humans are. Mu: as in, maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe life is the answer to its own question. To exist, to have form and consciousness out of all the potential across all of time in the entire cosmos, WE GOT TO BE HERE. That’s fucking amazing, so why do we have such a hard time appreciating it?
If you think about what makes life different from the rest of the gunk floating around the universe, it’s hard to describe what life is but pretty easy to know when you see it. (At least, it has been for most terrestrial life.) But no matter your definition, there is something about the sheer tenacity of life that’s undeniable. Whatever drives it – DNA, chi, spirit, aetheric energy – life is self-perpetuating in a way that’s actually pretty spooky. Since life evolved, it’s managed to survive pretty much every disaster thrown at it: ice ages, meteorites, war, famine, disease, flooding, ecological collapse. For some reason, that little string of molecular code we call DNA (or RNA or whatever other genetic-y things I’m not learned enough to know about) has been slowly but surely insinuating itself into every nook and cranny it can manage. And the scariest part? It’s really really good at it. Like, we can’t even come close yet to replicating DNA’s evolutionary dynamism and self-motivation towards continual progress. But progress towards what? Again, mu. As products of DNA’s tireless pursuit, we may never understand how or why it came to be, or even if there IS a why. I don’t want go too far down the deterministic versus chaotic rabbit hole, but that’s ultimately where these types of questions go. Is there a reason that life, not just my life or your life, but life exists? Maybe the pursuit of that question is another reason life exists, to ask itself these questions.
Then why am I bothering to write about questions that no one has answers to? Because we all have moments when not knowing is painful. Like soul-gasping, don’t-know-if-I-can-manage-this-life-shit pain. I find myself thinking about this a lot lately – what meaning does my life have? Does it have a meaning outside what I artificially impose upon it? Would it matter if I had never existed? Mu. I DO exist, I have existed, and nothing will ever change that. Everything that has ever existed in our universe, from the first hydrogen atom to the In-and-Out burger you shouldn’t have eaten last week, was given form and substance and reality. It doesn’t even really matter if some higher power willed it into existence or not; the fact is, being given existence and especially a sentient consciousness to understand and (hopefully) appreciate our existence is a gift. The Gift of the Universe. So yeah, we do matter because we ARE matter. A single life does change the course of the universe, just as one hydrogen atom fusing with another can ignite a star, because we are part of the universe already.
So does all this help me deal with feeling like my own life can be pointless and meaningless? Maybe a little, but I think it’s ultimately all about context. My life may not matter thousands of years from now, but it sure as hell matters to me and to a lot of the people that know me. In the Zen Buddhist tradition, the exploration of the concept of mu comes from a student asking a Zen Master: “does a dog have a Buddha nature?” The teacher answers, “mu,” which is actually a mental test, telling the student he needs to rethink his assumptions. Perhaps I need a Zen Master to tell me, when I ask “is this all there is to my life?” – mu.
Hear me, o children. I shall now speak of that against which we toil and fight. The darkness that has spread and must be brought into light. The Forces of Evil, or Foe as we shall call them, are insidious and ubiquitous. But by knowing our Foes, facing them, and unleashing our amazing Geek powers upon them, we shall vanquish them. But before I go into detail about specific Foes, I will give a general overview of the nature of anti-Geekly Forces of Evil and how it affects us all.
In the beginning, there was an emptiness, a black field of nothingness. Then, structure began to appear; first, a sphere of light here and there, then more complex forms and designs. After a certain time, the universe began to pixelate into discreet branches and pathways, with countless spheres of energy populating it. Boundaries became part of reality, separating energy and matter, dark and light. And with all such analogies, good and evil. Did Evil come first, or Good? I don’t claim to know; perhaps it doesn’t matter. And as was inevitable in an evolving universe, life formed. And with that life, struggle.
It is the nature of life to seek to continue itself and, in order to do so, it must feed on and use energy. The energy that ultimately comes from the creation of the universe, which is in all things. However, as you know, some life craves its own continuance too greatly and hoards more energy than it needs. Thus is born all struggle and strife; the great ongoing fight to sustain oneself in the universe. Life competing with other life for access to finite energy resources. But what happens when access to those resources fall out of balance? Strife. Famine. War. Death. Sometimes on a scale too great for our puny human minds to comprehend. “But,” you ask, “how do we know how much energy is fair and balanced for me to take?” Let me answer by asking you a question.
Consider the creation of the universe as described above. Now, instead of humans and dolphins and spiders and slime mold evolving, imagine a universe populated by ghosts… and Pac-Man. A vastly simplified universe where entities compete for energy. There seems sufficient energy pellets for the number of inhabitants, but somehow they are never enough. Why? See the truth!!
Consider Pac-Man versus his ghostly enemies. Why do we assume Pac-Man is the hero? What have the ghosts done to deserve such torture and death? Pac-Man’s entire purpose is to gobble up all the available energy and then persecute and destroy his competitors. Are the ghosts attacking him because they are Evil or because they are trying to defend access to their fair share of the resources? What is left of the universe when it is full of Pac-Men? Emptiness.
Therefore, we must consider the ramifications of our actions and motivations. Is what we are doing in keeping with the balance of the universe, or seeking to upset it? Chaos. Order. Good. Evil. Light. Dark. Bacon. Tofu. These are just words and concepts, meaningless in the greater scheme. All things are natural, as they are part of natural existence. But not all actions and behaviors support the healthy existence of the universe and are thus, in our definition, Evil.
As I said before, the Foe is insidious and will disguise himself (I say “him” as it’s just easier… rest assured there are plenty of the “herselves” too) and attempt to deceive and confuse you. This is why we must always ask ourselves “why?” and “what impact does this have?” for this is how you can cast off Evil’s spell of deception and recognize it.
Meditate on this, children, and speak your minds. For no man is an island, though some dudes can get pretty fat.