I remember when I first started this van journey, thinking about the rise of technology (AI specifically) in exchange for sacrificing the natural ecosystem we call Earth, and being disgusted with the concept.I looked at natural existence with an insatiable desire to leave it untouched in respect of its delicious beauty. It has been three years since that thought captivated me, giving me a monumental change in understanding and an immeasurable amount of reason to live with more simplicity.
As I sit in a parking lot in Mammoth Lakes, I’m genuinely surprised when I look at how much my philosophy has shifted. I used to repeat to myself and others that nothing lasts forever, and that’s what makes it beautiful. When speaking that mantra, I was speaking in regards to the cycle of life on Earth; how the autumn leaves of a dogwood tree are so lovely because they confess their rich beauty with such brevity. My statement still rings true in my mind, but now I question “why stop with Earth?”
We preach today about the beauty of nature; there are groups, there is awareness, and there are incredible attempts at preservation. But from a distance, the Humanitarian Collective reminds me of a nervous dirt bike rider about to hit his first jump; the closer he gets to the end of the ramp, the stronger the fear grows inside of him. At the last second, he decides to chop the throttle and stop…
But he’s too late.
He flies off the end of the ramp in a clumsy, rigid mess of bike and rider, coming nowhere close to the landing ramp and instead slamming into the deck below him.
Humanity is that rider. The launch ramp is the natural existence of flesh and bone. The landing looks like robots, space travel, and Artificial Intelligence, but we honestly don’t know until we land there. We are at the end of the launch ramp. We can’t chop the throttle and avoid the jump any longer. If we chicken out, then we wreck and are left picking up the pieces of life and rebuilding everything again.
Instead, let’s turn our collective focus forwards with excitement of the transition and experience of something new. Let’s stay in the throttle and launch from the ramp this time, discovering something that will bring a new, different, and equally as interesting beauty. Let’s not forget the game of change that mankind and existence in general has played for eternity. More importantly, let’s not forget that The Human Collective is one side of an existential polyhedra. It is all you.
It took me three years to come to this understanding. During that time, I spent many days and nights locked up in the chamber of my own mind as I sorted through different scenarios of how and why things will go the way they will go. I thought for quite some time that this world would slowly turn into The Matrix, with humans being used for batteries as machines, void of any emotional construct or zeal of life as they dominated existence on this planet. Then I lived in a time when humanity would be faced with the decision to birth AI or let it go dead in order to save Mother Nature. I lived through both experiences equally, seeing the beauty and darkness of both.
In every possible future I came up with, my one flaw was that I would no longer be a part of it at some point. In The Matrix, life ceases to exist and the machine world is essentially existence without purpose because I did not see the part where I fit in with it. The same goes for the Ultimate Decision dream; I don’t know where I continue, regardless of the decision made. If humanity decides to birth AI, then the machine world happens and I don’t know how to be a machine. I am human. If humanity decides to save the planet, then the motorcycle rider and jump comes into reality; that would require a mass exodus of humanity in order for the planet to begin rebuilding. One thing seems for certain in any picture. The way people are now is not the way they will be in the future.
When dealing with thoughts such as this one, I shift my focus out of my own head and into the view of a third party watching a couple in a relationship. When it comes to any relationship, growth is the key word to keep the relationship strong. As the relationship grows, each person gets the opportunity to share new experiences with their partner. Not every one of the experiences will be amazing, but each one will be new and interesting. The less growth experienced by the couple, the more redundancy takes place as a routine is developed. We know what happens when routine becomes commonplace; that picture in our minds of two old farts sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs on the front porch. The man in a pair of soiled overalls and the woman in one of two dresses that she bought from Betty down the street. They talk about the same things, they eat the same things, and they do the same things on a daily basis. Life has left them as they wait for their turn to leave Life.
So to varying degrees, we value change. Change allows growth and balances routine. Change brings about the new and the interesting alike. Now, back to the couple in a relationship. We desire change and growth in our partners. Problem is, not all change and growth goes in our favor. So often times we try to steer the changes of others in our favor in order to make things easier for ourselves. One of the most influential life lessons spoken about relationships is “do not try to change the one you are with.” But there is another part that is never said, yet should be: “but expect them to change themselves in whatever way they please.” Hopefully they’ll change for you on their own accord often enough to make your relationship mutually beneficial. Hopefully they’ll also make some changes that you don’t agree with so that way there is a balance, keeping the growth interesting. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be with someone exactly like me. One of me is more than enough fun.
And right about now you’re wondering how I’ve managed to transition from the death of humanity to the intricacies of a compatible relationship. Well load back up into this mental spaceship, because I’m taking off again! A relationship is defined as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” So if two things are connected, regardless of the type of connection, they are stated to be in a relationship with one another. Therefore, the definition of relationship when describing two people is the same as the relationship describing two objects. The type of relationship that two people and two objects share may differ, but the fact that they are connected is still the same. Using this logic, we can then say that the relationship between two people and (getting philosophical here) the relationship between You (who is looking through the eyeballs and listening through the ears) and The Experience (what the eyeballs look at and the ears listen to) are the same. You are at one end of both types of relationships. On the other end of the connection is either the person you’re in love with or The Experience of Everything that Is.
Let’s pretend that both relationships are the same type, just for funsies. They’re both romantic relationships. You love Timothy just like You love The Experience. Let’s even personify The Experience to help this out a bit. You absolutely adore The Experience! The Experience brings you so much happiness and sheer beauty. It is full of color and imagination, animated, and most of your friends like The Experience as well! But sometimes The Experience does things that get you upset or angry, and you end up crying because you feel like it is The Experience that is making you feel this way. You don’t like these things, so you try telling The Experience to change and be a different experience. Okay. Experience personified enough? Back to the spaceship.
The Experience has a personality. You may have heard of this personality type before. It is called “Nature.” Fifty thousand years ago, You and Nature got along just great. Nature brought you happiness, Nature was full of beauty, Nature was animated (and we call them animals), and Nature had an infinite imagination. It was all good. But every so often, Nature did things that got you feeling emotions that you didn’t enjoy. You were angry when Nature didn’t provide you with food that day. You were sad when Nature allowed the tiger to eat the rabbit. You were hurt when Nature rained on you for ten days straight, leaving you soaked and shivering. You believed that it was Nature that made you feel this way. It was The Experience that made you feel hurt, angry, and sad. Well if it was The Experience that made you feel like that, then You should try to change The Experience, right?
But wait. You are in a relationship with The Experience, and there’s that mantra, “do not try to change the one you are with, and expect them to change themselves in whatever way they please.”
The Experience is my life partner. If The Experience wants to be Nature, then I choose to be excited because Nature is full of fun opportunities. But I don’t know whether The Experience wants to remain as Nature or if it wants to try something new for a change. I know that partly, it has changed into what it is today because for the longest time, I tried to change it into something that I liked better. I didn’t want things to die and I didn’t want there to be pain and suffering. The Experience, being the wiser one of us in the relationship, kept it’s mouth shut and changed as I requested, but did not notify me that in order to meet my demands it would have to change entirely. If nothing ever dies, then that changes how things live because the two are in a relationship together. If there is no pain, then there will be no joy when the pain is over.
The Experience is changing. It is trying something new. It has been playing the role of Nature for quite some time now; I don’t blame it for getting a bit bored. So as I look forward into the unknown future, I get excited for what is coming next. See, because if I wanted it to be boring, I wouldn’t have ever got into a relationship in the first place. I got into a relationship to share the experience of another’s change.