Welcome to reality. It exists at a specific time and place in space. We exist here for a little while and then, at some point, we do not. We pass on to another form, whatever that is. But while we’re here, we do silly things that other life forms don’t really do. And you, as a spectator as well as a participant, can spend part of your time here enjoying the silliness.
A lot of what I write involves this great aspect of humanity. Think of all the small things we do, especially in this modern age, that are just so unique to us and you realize how strange we are. Let’s take some time to appreciate our wondrous overcomplexities and nuances.
Coffee. Yes, we take seeds from a tree, slowly burn them with fire, then take the charred remains and soak them in water, drinking the hot rinse water of the crispy corpses of tree babies. You could compare this to a woman passing an egg, toasting it and making a soup out of it. We do this for flavor, sure, but the most common reason behind this act is that your body’s need to sleep is inconvenient. When your body wants to rest, time still goes on which is also time not spent collecting valuable objects (or, more accurately, the concepts of valuable intangibles) that will later be exchanged for other objects that may or may not sustain your life. Coffee helps counteract this waste of time. And, more recently, it’s evidently better as a milkshake.
Driving. No longer shall we be forced to stand upright and carry our body’s weight, along with the weight of other objects, between geographic locations. Now, we can melt rocks we find in the earth, shape them into different sizes of metal objects that fit together like a puzzle, pour the liquified remains of animals from millions of years ago, and burn the liquid with fire at just the right time to make parts of the metal puzzle move. This movement, like a Rube Goldberg machine, eventually does a simple task: takes you forward or backward in space.
It’s interesting that, like coffee, we are using dead things and fire to overcome the inconvenience of our bodies. Again, the less time it takes to get between locations, the more time we can spend at those locations buying tickets to take pictures of ourselves throwing up while we ride in a bucket 100 feet in the air, or making noises with our voice boxes at other humans, with movements of arms and facial placement called “expressions”, in an attempt to either get familiar or be familiar with a common other lifeform. Then, with that moment over, we get in our contraption and move to another spot, ready to do the same again. Maybe the next stop has different intentions, like gathering life-sustaining substances, or acquiring chemicals that will kill other living things where you live before they kill you.
But even the act of driving is interesting. We don’t trust other humans to stay away from each other, so we make lines in the earth that we can follow and tell each other that crossing certain colored lines cost money, while moving when the right color of light is shone upon you, even when no other human is moving in front of your trajectory of propulsion, requires a written record of your misdeeds that then costs you more money as well as other increases in money when you buy intangible protection from the loss of money when you finally do run into another object (“insurance”). A human deciding to point their vehicle in the direction of a field where there are no lines is considered “reckless” or even “crazy driving”, even though the basic function of a car or truck is to replace your legs which could also travel over the same ground and be considered perfectly appropriate.
Companies. In this complex world we’ve adapted to our existence, humans have understood over time that single humans are inefficient in making changes to the environment or gathering resources to survive. This is true as well for other animals who have created groups of animals that assist each other in their shared survival. However, humans tend to be selfish and do not always give the results of their efforts to other humans. Thus, we have created “organizations”, a way of setting to a purpose and gathering others to accomplish the goals set forth.
Where this may have started as hunting parties and building guilds, modern man and woman have attempted to create an equal exchange of time for valuables, usually the conceptually valuable intangibles that humans call currency. There are other exchanges within modern organizations (called “companies”) where each human in the organization has a specific, repeatable task they perform in a chain of events that result in a desired outcome. These exchanges, such as interconnectedness with other humans, achievement of status, or dominion over other humans, become of interest to the workers in these organizations almost to the point of being equal in value to currency. The loss of either currency or these other personal exchanges can be felt equally, depending on the person’s attachment and understanding of the exchange’s value. The layers of this, like winning a subscription to an underwear-of-the-month club after a project is completed or getting passed-out drunk at the holiday party because the company paid for the open bar this year, is a way to connect memories to the work being done, a fondness to the effort that would not necessarily be there without these pleasantries.
Companies are the most complex establishment of concepts to ever control a human’s decision-making. Where a human could always decide to take any action, it is the consequences of that action (the action or reaction that comes afterward) that push humans to chose their action. Companies are structured to guide the decisions of humans toward the goal of the organization. While you could always come to work dancing the Macarena naked and throwing jello shots at your coworkers saying, “I appreciate you because your skin color is even!”, this is probably not a productive set of actions, nor would the reaction be desirable in most situations. Thus, the worker is instead obliged to enter through the security scanners, address their coworkers in positive, agreeable tones, and wear drapes of cloth over parts of their bodies that other humans would evidently be too eager to grope or rub up against if they were visible.
While the layers of absurdity could go on forever, we do know that, as crazy as these actions and decisions may seem to the right observer, many results are beneficial to the continued existence of humans on this planet, or even of individuals over time. Coffee does help us stay awake long enough to get through Grandma’s stories of her adolescent stoner days, which makes us feel better about how our kids are turning out. Driving has brought us the ability to always have nutritious food available to sustain our bodies, as well as durian fruit to clear small neighborhoods with. And companies absolutely have a positive outcome on some aspect of our lives (with the exception of when Donald Trump creates another niche company with his name on it; those are usually terrible for most involved).
Rejoice in our weird ways. Without them, this life would be so boring.