Skeletons and Drivers
What if all people are are skeletons?
Skeletons walking around our own little lives; ghosts moving about and occasionally interacting with each other. Skeleton you, Skeleton me.
Self contained units pursuing self contained goals, individually defined for each unit. Crossing paths randomly, almost uncontrollably, like plankton floating past one another in a vast ocean of possibility and time. Wave as you pass me by, or don’t. The current will keep us moving along on our separate paths. We think we know where we’re going and where we’re going to end up, don’t we. What a pleasant thought.
But we don’t control the current. The water could be cold or warm, flow fast or dry up. We all live in the same ocean, we’re subject to the unpredictability of savage tsunamis, rogue tidal waves and even droughts.
We skeletons mill about as best we can while the ocean of life swirls around us, incidentally guiding us according to no particular plans or designs. We future fossils interact with each other when the tide is right; when the circumstances dictate. At the end of each day though, we each really are only our own set of bones.
I know because my bones have their own goals, and yours do too right? Our bones are independent of each other’s; my bones have broken in ways yours haven’t. Maybe yours haven’t ever been broken at all. Your skeleton is going to walk in its own direction regardless of what mine does. Maybe our skeletons are even different; maybe you’re missing a rib or I have an extra pinky toe. How would you ever know? Even if you did, it wouldn’t affect your bones’ slow march, slow drift towards their future.
There is freedom to be found in absolute independence, but how sad and isolationist this viewpoint is. Unless…
All these skeletons’ individual viewpoints must come from somewhere right? Where do these goals that we all silently (or loudly) pursue come from? Not from bones.
You can operate a car, but that doesn’t mean you are the car, does it?
Aren’t our bones, our skeletons more like cars we’re driving to get where we need to go? And who decides where we need to go, our bones? Our skulls aren’t empty; we’re not all just mindlessly motoring around. Well, maybe some of us are but that is not my point.
If this dented, beat up chassis of mine is a car, there are hands on the wheel somewhere in there. And if there are hands steering, that means they get to decide what direction I go in, doesn’t it? Somewhere, there’s a hand on the wheel and a foot on the brake. Someone’s keeping an eye on the speedometer and, if I’m lucky, regularly changing the oil. I’m not drifting along like a leaf in a river. This limited edition ’81 whip is not ghostriding. I’m not suspended in a current of life that I have no control over. I choose my path, and I can choose to either wave or give you the finger as I pass by yours. And guess what, if you wave back, we just might start down a new path together!
Maybe that means we’ll go grab a burger and a beer sometime. Maybe we’ll watch a movie or become friends. Maybe we’ll become bitter enemies immediately or slowly over time, as you get to know me better. Perhaps you’ll comment on this post and I’ll thank you and we’ll never meet each other or interact ever again.
But regardless of what ends up happening, our paths change and intertwine, even if ever so briefly. This can’t be because our skeletons just accidentally bumped into each other. For as long as we’re driving in the same direction, for an hour or a year or a decade, we’re sharing the same stretch of road. This is by choice.
Just because we as a species haven’t figured out how to control reality, that doesn’t mean that we’re helpless and unable to pick our own paths, even if the pathway is constantly changing under us.
Whether you pick the path less traveled by or the path of least resistance, or whether the ground falls out from underneath you, where you go is up to you, and that is my point.
So polish your chassis, rest your bones and check your oil (heh). If you feel like getting complacent, drift along for awhile until you refuel, but don’t take too long. There’s lots of highway out there to tear up.