En Passant

Our lives seem to be a constant series of misunderstandings and overreactions — and this process creates the drama of our lives. With awareness and gentleness, there could be no conflict. Yet we can witness in our dealings with others that we respond before fully understanding the situation — and this means we’re not actually responding to what’s occurring, but to a fantasy we just created.

I had an electronic hand-held chess game once, a few decades ago when I was a boy. The lights would flash across the board as it was “thinking” through its next move. Instead of allowing it to evaluate every possible move, the game had a button I could press to shortcut this thinking process, forcing it to move prematurely. This feature allowed me, the novice, to win against the computer.

That seems to be what our lives are like. We could sit and listen and evaluate every situation we find ourselves in, then react mildly and appropriately to the entirety of the circumstance — but we don’t. It’s as if we’re forced to react prematurely, ensuring carelessness and a sloppy outcome. By whatever force, we’re beguiled, compelled to act before it’s prudent.

Of course we could calculate the calm and rational path, but we aren’t allowed to, our reasoning is truncated. Yet this is not in error, it’s what allows the flawless to live as the flawed — we’re formed into foolish flesh for our own amusement. How else would an infinite all-knowing spirit participate in humor or mystery if all punchlines and plots are already known?

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