I often forget. And then sometimes I remember.
At every point in our life, we always have exactly the tools we need. We just don’t always know it. We don’t always remember.
It reminds me of an old game I used to play as a child called Mindshadow. This was back in the 80’s and I played it on my father’s old Commodore 64. It was the only game I ever played as a child because I often didn’t like the pressure of clicking buttons fast enough to avoid dying. It was too stressful for me.
But this game was different. It was slow. It was smart. It made me problem solve. But mostly, it made me remember something that I forgot a long time ago.
For those of you unfamiliar, the game would start as you wake up on a desert island. There was no one around and you had no idea who you were, where you were, and what you were supposed to be doing. You could move around the island, check things out, but there were never any instructions. It just threw you into this confusing world with no rules and no help. If you so chose, you could spend hours just sitting on the beach you woke up on. Nothing was ever going to make you move forward in the game except for your own motivation. Or curiosity.
This game was, essentially, the re-enactment of being birthed into this world. Maybe we knew who we were before we were born, but as soon as we come into this world, any memories of this are wiped clean and we are deposited in a world in which we don’t understand the rules, don’t yet know who we are, and don’t yet know why we’re here.
And so in this place, how do we ever come to know who we are? What is this process? There are many possible answers to this, however, one of the ways we often answer these questions is by listening to those around us.
Who are we? We ask our mothers and fathers and teachers and siblings and friends and society. We listen to their answers. We let it sink in. Even if we thought we know, we somehow think it’s more important to listen to others that were here before us. Maybe they understand more about us than we do. We couldn’t possibly understand who we are and what we’re here for.
But what if we were born on a desert island like in the game? How would we know who we are with no one around to tell us? How would we find answers to these questions?
The answer is that we would have to learn to be curious.
We would have to look around and realize there are actually a lot of signs that tell us where to go next. Sometimes they’re obvious, sometimes they’re vague and need interpretation. Sometimes, we have no idea and so we just pick them up and put them in our bag for later. Maybe later we’ll get something else that makes this piece make sense.
And then we would realize that we need tools to do certain things, such as climbing down a cliff and into a cave. And when we look even closer, we will realize we actually have everything we need. We just have to be curious, inspect closely, make sense of the world around us, and problem solve.
Eventually, slowly, step by step, we would begin to put together a larger picture and see where we need to go next. What we need to find next and what we’re looking for in the first place.
We would begin to learn who we truly are.
What if you were playing this game and at some point, your mother came up and said, intrusively, ‘why are you even playing this game’?
‘You already know who you are. You are a straight A student who will be a successful lawyer and make a lot of money and then you will have a good life’. And without saying it directly she would say, the meaning of your life is to be wealthy and successful so you can be happy.
And so the mystery is solved and you put down the controller for the game. Your game. Your life.
You stop looking for signs, messages and tools. You forget that you once had a meaning to your life that you gave up looking for a long time ago. And when things in life become difficult, you forget that you already have exactly the tools you need. You give up because you forget that you ever even had a reason to play this game.
We often think this is the end of the game. But it’s not. The controller is always there, the game is always waiting for you. The signs and tools are there waiting, patiently, for the day that you decide to take your life back. To remember, once again, who you are.