I was thinking about how much time I spend watching television the other night. And I thought how weird the extra-terrestrials would think it that our race of somewhat sentient beings sits in front of a box that makes pictures hour after hour. And then I thought to myself, “Myself,” I thought, “I guess we just like stories.” We like to watch stories. We like to hear stories. We like to tell stories.
As soon as we get together with our friends and loved ones, we start telling stories. Anyone who has been married or even part of a family knows that you will hear the same stories over and over again from the people you love. We’ve been telling stories for about as long as there have been people. Stories were told around the fire. The storyteller in any given community was often awarded a kind of special status. Stories are how we define our lives.
Even our religions are based upon stories. There is the story of Jesus, of Mohammed, of the Buddha, or Krsna. They all have a story. Stories are intrinsic to human beings.
Our history is a story, the history of humanity. And that story is as full of myth and legend as any religion. We love to hear our stories. We even see our own lives as a story, with a beginning, a middle and eventual end. We talk about our lives in terms of story metaphors. Life is a road. Life is a journey. Life is a river. But life isn’t any of those things. Life is life. There is no plot development in the story of our lives. There is just living.
Sartre said that we could only imagine our own deaths as spectators at our own funerals. But we’ve done more than that. We have made ourselves spectators of the story of our lives. We look at our own lives as though we are spectators at our own personal movie. We see our memories that way. We dream that way. We see our future that way. But we are not spectators. We are living that life. We have set ourselves apart from our very selves. That’s why in the “movie” of our lives, nobody else seems to know his or her lines. Nothing comes out the way it’s supposed to because this isn’t a story and things don’t happen the way they are supposed to. They just happen, randomly perhaps, or by the touch of God, but they just happen all the same.
This is more evident as we look at the way we take photographs and videos of our life, making our own story into a story. We define our lives in stories. If we are a story, who is writing that story? Are we the story we write ourselves? I don’t think so. If I were writing the story I’d have way may cool clothes. In seeing ourselves as part of a story, we separate ourselves from the reality of that story. Let’s face it, a story is only a story after it has ended. If there is a story to our lives, we cannot see it any more than we can see our own faces (apart from in a mirror-and mirrors distort reality as it is). I need to remind myself that I am not watching my reality; I am a part of it. I am not watching the game. I am playing it.
Lao Tzu said we created the illusion of reality when we created language. Our understanding of music makes us deaf. Our sight makes us blind. All of that makes sense once you understand that as soon as you see yourself and the table, you have set yourself apart from the table, as separate from the table. You no longer see that you and the table are one (which, in the truest sense of quantum physics, you are), your atoms merged with the atmosphere between you, the table, and the galactic system. And by seeing yourself as the leading role in your own story, you have set yourself apart from yourself. You cannot be yourself and watch yourself at the same time. That is the ultimate in self-consciousness!
Here on Facebook, and on Twitter, we continue our stories in little bytes of information, posted on our walls. We post our stories, and follow the stories of our friends. We even follow the stories of people we don’t even know. It is almost as if our own stories, our lives, are validated by the posting. We are trying to be ourselves and watch ourselves at the same time. And with cell phone technology, we are posting our stories even as we live them, thus preventing ourselves from living them to the fullest.
In other words, the Matrix is real. We are living it every day. We need to find the Theo within, I guess. We need to liberate ourselves from the machine that is us.