My Metal Insect

December 5, 2011
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I looked curiously at the small, insect-shaped toy in front of me. On its back protruded a metal facet that, when wound up and released, would turn gears and shake a counterweight that would cause the toy to vibrate and bounce about the floor. When first observing the toy in action, the dance it made on the floor seemed to be an unpredictable, random pattern of motion. However, upon reflection, I quickly concluded that the motion of the toy was not random. In fact, the motion of the toy was the complete opposite--it was already planned out before the toy was even set in motion. Given the precise initial conditions of the toy, and taking into account all factors of the environment, it seemed possible to calculate the exact path the toy would take.

I then imagined the toy as myself. Am I just a wind-up piece of machinery that when released will act in a predictable, deterministic nature with the illusion of choice and randomness? Surely all of the electrochemical signals of my brain at any given moment could be compared to the tension stored in the spring of the toy. Given the initial conditions of my brain, and taking into account all factors in my environment, it seemed possible to predict with certainty all of the future decisions I would make. The future of my life seemed no more than a few calculations away. I felt like a clock ticking forward with time; as if I was governed by no more than a chain of causality over which I had no control.

Following the logic that I am no more than the result of conditions, I came to another realization: that I will always exist; that I will never end; that I will continue in the universe until the end of time. For after my physical body dissolves, my actions, influences, and impact on the world will continue in that chain of causality that governs all other particles of matter and will forever affect the universe. I will become a wave of vibrations that will forever permeate outward through the whole fabric of space and time. Eventually, I will spread myself out so thin that I could only be detected by the ears of God poised at the edge of the universe.

I then looked with fresh eyes at my metal insect, which, lying still upon the floor, had ceased its brief period of undulation. I shifted my concentration from the realm of abstract reasoning back to the present moment--where my thoughts could be safe from the distorting influence of an over-active imagination. If ever there were a time when the meaning of life seemed simple, it would be the moment after I observed my metal insect.
I acquired the wisdom that I really have only one true obligation in life: to experience my destiny.





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