Essays from the Edge: The Superficial Life, the Artificial Life, the Abundant Life
There is reality and then there is superficiality. There is reality and then there is artificiality. But what if there was another path, a better way forward? This post, from Essays from the Edge, a work in progress, is a reflection on and exploration of the superficial, the artificial and the path to life and life to the full.
I believe we are here for the experience of life, to come fully to LIFE and to Live In Full Expression. My art and design as well as my writing is an exploration of the path to life, an examination of designs for life hidden in plain sight. Everything I share is an invitation to the dance of your life. Trust your life. Let it lead you back to the whole of who you are. I'll meet you on the way,
The Path of Superficiality
There is reality and there is superficiality.
Superficiality provides the pretense of relief. One who chooses this path skims the surface, eyes fixed on a horizon of some far-off "heaven," however that might be defined by a particular person in a particular place of time. Of course, it doesn't seem that way when you are on the way in life. You don't think you're settling and it feels like your hard work is paying off, getting you in the game, so to speak. You think you're playing the game of life, but whose game is it, really?
Once upon a time you had a dream of a better life. Maybe it's a dream life, a dream home, a dream relationship. Whatever it is, it is a fixed point, false centerpoint, albeit a goal or a wish that one believes, when fulfilled, will deliver happiness or success or whatever other word one has affixed to one's idea of fulfillment. Sometimes, the secret wish is to be good enough to receive some blessing bestowed from beyond. Or the appearance of a savior, from this life or the life beyond.
But is it perhaps a partial giving up even as one appears to get belonging, to fit in? The superficial life affords all who take its path the reward of pride and prejudice without the weight of responsibility. Partaking in pretense and superficiality even comes with a topping of pats on the back for "progress" and plenty of "friends" along the way. When we're on this path, we often call it "the good life" and say we're really happy without allowing our hearts to weigh in on what happiness truly is.
THE DEFINITION OF SUPERFICIALITY
"Lack of thoroughness, depth of character or serious thought."
The Cost of Superficiality
Quick note: This blog is not talking about not having goals, striving for a particular lifestyle or other outcome. It is talking about losing our way when we lose sight of what matters most. The huge cost comes when we miss the Path to LIFE because we have fallen into one of the two portals we can easily fall into when we choose the Path of Superficiality or the Path of Artificiality.
This is all well and good until the day you realize the pretense has cost you presence and the life you came to live. When you come to the end of the road and see with your real eyes the undeniable truth that playing the part of the good girl or the good boy has required the sacrifice of self, the surrender of wholeness in the name of getting "ahead," seeking "success" and doing the "right" thing.
At its best, superficiality is the surrender of a deeper dream in favor of a surface life where the best you get is the ego boost of having "made it" by a definition of success dwindled down to achievement. It is a willing subjugation of self in order to attain the perception (in one's self and in others) of acceptability and belonging. But is true belonging ever delivered on such a path? And how acceptable is it, really, to divide up who you are and partition parts unknown just to meet society's definition of palatability?
Ironically, the race to the finish along the path of superficiality requires, no demands in fact, a full allegiance to and acceptance of a life that conforms and is complaint to a rule of law that presumes an inherent incapacity to self-govern and to attune one's self to the higher calling of life. A surrender to the superficial life seems nothing less than a giving up and a giving in to a belief that we have fallen short and do not know, cannot know, what is best for us. It is the abdication of a choice to be informed by and in formation with the very nature of life, the deep and rich texture of what it means to be human.
In truth, superficiality is, by definition, avoidance of abundance, a running away from life and life to the full. Why would one do such a thing? All the usual suspects: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth for starters. Interestingly, it is our self-identification of not worthy, of seeing ourselves as stained with "sin" or simply not enough that drives us toward the a life of superficiality.
In seeking to save yourself from the void you felt, have you sold your soul? Have you lost your way on your way to the dream of a better day? And did you miss the way the sun rose and set, how the birds sang and all things came to life? In staying on the so-called straight and narrow, have you not tied yourself in knows in order not to stray from the path of perfection, paved by patriarchs and presumed leaders of the pack?
Was this destination at which you have arrived your true intention? Or was that too cast aside in your quest to arrive? What was left behind and why? Was it you? Was it true fulfillment? In your pursuit of what you saw as happiness, did you happen to unknowingly discard true life and liberty? At the least, a life of superficiality is one of self-imposed limitation and a denial of aspects of who you are that you yourself and only you first cut off and cast aside.
The cost of the superficial life is life and life to the full.
Here's to the good life, as they say. What will you choose today?
The Path of Artificiality
There is reality and there is artificiality.
The artificial life could seemingly not be further from superficiality, for those on this path plumb the depths. Yet, they took the deep dive into a world or worlds made by another, served up on a shiny silver platter filled with delicate delights. This otherworld is itself constructed with false flavors manufactured but nevertheless enticing and recognizable, from the outside, as riddled with loopholes, in the most literal sense of the word.
Such loopholes, cleverly disguised as another innocent step in the dark presented as light fool you into believing this is a life that feeds you. But, while it may be sweet, there is no nourishment in the daily dose of deception that steals precious energy and life from all its participants. And it is not life, however deep you're in.
Rather, the artificial life, closely tied to a manmade "intelligence" that pales in comparison to the Creator's world, is escape. It is a romp around virtual vistas in a world, typically electronic in its nature, that demands more and more of your energy and takes you far from the whole world of who you are. It presents a truth that leads you farther afield from the truth and beauty far more real than all the sparkly sophistication of a simulated, sing-song life. It is diminishment disguised as an augmentation.
It's important to note that there are many varieties of the artificial life and they aren't all related to the gaming industry or other dark corners of the web. In truth, there are many forms of modern media, to include those of a social nature, that are constructed on the same premise, built on the backbone of an "intelligence" that dumbs us down, not to mention harvests our information and energetic resources often in ways that say invisible to the "user."
Even Netflix and other "entertainment" networks play to the thirst for more and more escape from a "reality" we do not like. But if you're going to be there, take a look at The Social Dilemma. Side note: I personally think there are some very valid points in this production but I can also feel the Venus flytrap effect, the loopholes that keep us in the loop, so to speak. Still, the real deal is that millions upon millions of souls are being damaged, my own included, from this variation on the theme of artificiality.
THE DEFINITION OF ARTIFICIALITY
"...being made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally."
Also of note is the definition of Artificial Intelligence as something that "leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind." See article.
Quick note: This blog is not talking about playing the occasional video game, watching Netflix or using social media, smart phones and other technologies that utilize AI. The huge cost comes when we miss the Path to LIFE because we have fallen into one of the two portals we can easily fall into when we choose the Path of Superficiality or the Path of Artificiality.
Artificiality and the altered experience is a trip indeed. It too provides the pretense of relief and with an enticing dose of what's called "entertainment" but is in truth, predictably, entrainment. A program. A hit of dopamine delivered, a break that's more than what we bargained for from life in the multiplicity of that phrase. The artificial life lets you play commander. You decide! Or so you think. Until the day you realize it is a game, after all, and a game of manipulation to which you have sacrificed time and energy and, above all else, life and life to the full.
At its best, artificiality is mimicry, an imitation and an iteration, however many steps removed, from life. In the end, it is not merely ridiculous when viewed through the lens of our natural capacity for discernment. It is downright absurd. But not simply a night at the theater of the absurd. No. Certainly, artificiality is an abdication to futility, but it is more. What so many fail to see is that the artificial life is devoid of life, which by definition includes the capacity "for growth, reproduction, functional activity and continual change preceding death."
You may be made to feel a member of a culture club, selected by some select society. You may be made to feel special and of importance, propped up by the props that come with the territory of artificiality. You may be made to feel and experience many things. You may be made. And to make you into something, to fashion you and fix your form to this otherworld—is that not the true intent of a machine made to mimic?
Is it possible, perhaps, that you have been made in such an artificial existence that takes you wholly for granted into something you are not? Does the illusory world you willingly entered into have you believing that this is all you are? The otherworld not only does not feed you life. It feeds upon you, preying upon your participation to fuel its propagation of pretense until its game over and you are not longer useful. You are being used to prop of an illusion at best, an outright falsity at the height of the depths of depravity.
This is not to say that all games rooted in artificiality or all imagined worlds are malware. But it is to say that our blindness to being driven further "underground" and how it robs us of our life is a detriment that diminishes who we are. Even as our minds and bodies, even sometimes are very souls, are captivated by a dazzling array of choices in these alterations and iterations, we fail to find our way back to reality, to the truth and beauty of who we are and all we ourselves have to bring to life.
The cost of the artificial life is life and life to the full.
Ready player one, as they say. What will you choose today?
The Path to Life
Superficiality. Artificiality. These are twin paths, some might say polar opposites, that lead, equally, to a lessening. They are a reduction. A contraction. A withdrawal and retreat. They are the consumption of life itself—the life within you, the life around you. This is in stark contrast to the Path to come to LIFE + Live In Full Expression. The path to life is aligned with the principles of life, to include its organic nature and qualities. The reason this matters so much is that it affects every area of our thriving, from the ability to navigate life challenges to relationships and friendships.
Yesterday was the monthly kick-off for Growth Day (do Pro if you want the in-depth trainings). The topic was friendships, and we discussed the vital importance of becoming the architect and opening up to create a tapestry of social relationships—the kind that are real, not simply the social media like variety. This is so critical, now more than ever.
About a year ago, when I was shown the three core qualities we need for thriving in the world that is coming, those qualities were: responsibility, adaptability, and relatability. It is important to realize that none of these interlocking qualities can be enhanced and elevated when you are choosing, intentionally or by default, wither the Path of Superficiality or the Path of Artificiality—or, in some cases, both.
What if, instead of being driven forward, toward some elusive goal, or being driven down and underground, to another world, you let yourself be? To declare, "I want to live!"? To awaken from the dream that a dream cannot come true today? What if we begin and begin again, beginning with throwing off the shackles of the Superficial Life and the Artificial Life and seeing beauty, touching wonder, daring to dance with mystery?
They say the road to hell is paved with good intention. And maybe none of us set out to participate in the perpetuation of something that takes us away from life. The path to life is made one choice at a time, one day at a time. It is up to each one of us to choose if and when we will begin and begin again, whether we will dare to live and become who we were born to be or miss the abundant life because we're going round and round on the circular paths of superficiality or artificiality.