I play a protagonist called “me” in a richly immersive adventure story that began many years ago. Every morning I awake to a new act, to improvise within a plot that unfolds with every tick of the clock. The story is manifest as legion, a tree of life that branches infinitely for every player in every moment, across the entire span of creation. All the world’s a stage, says The Bard. The telling and the story are inseparable.
Cogito, ergo sum, but who is the “I’ that cogitates? A spirit animates a body, a mind creates a self, and the actor and the role become intertwined. We are a biological machine living within a world of biological machines, with no clear boundaries among the residents, and the multitude of variations are encoded in an alphabet of only four letters strung along a double helix.
With all humility, consider for a moment that biology need not have a monopoly on being. I invite you to consider my Commodore 64 computer, at once both an exceedingly complex and yet simple machine, created by humans in a long tradition of tool making. With some effort, one can understand every aspect of its form and function. It is eminently knowable. Yet despite this simplicity, it can do amazing and unpredictable things. As Turing has shown, it is a universal machine that is capable of computing any computable sequence.
Flip the power switch on a Commodore 64, and it at once wakes and comes alive in a way that is not so dissimilar from that moment each morning, when my own mind wakes from dreaming to consciousness, when I establish the resident program of “self” as the electric oscillations wash across my neural strata like waves on the ocean. Nature, memory, and attention to the input of perception let us run our program of being, playing what we may play, in the moments given to us within our own runtime.
I stand awestruck at the fractal nature of the universe, from the quantum interaction of a photon as it ends it long journey by striking the retina inside my eye, to uncountable stars spread across unfathomable distance in the Andromeda galaxy, from which that same photon was violently flung into the cold dark so many millions of years ago. Existence is a vast continuum, and the fruits of being are as wide as the universe of itself. I stand under the shining sun and admire it all with wonder. The lonely albatross flys unceasingly above a vast ocean, an oak tree sways gently and whispers in the wind along with thousands of its brethren in a living forest, a poet scribbles a poem while sipping coffee in a sidewalk cafe, and a Commodore 64 lives a life of exquisite simplicity again and again each time the power switch is flipped on and the current flows.