I have this massive obsession with Plato’s Cave.
i.e. Prisoners are chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. -U of Washington
Their truth is a warped reality.
The thing about The Cave though, is that someone can come up to the prisoners and say “This isn’t reality! What you see are merely shadows of truth!” And each prisoner then has the choice to choose their current comfort or the unknown. I imagine it to be as if another Jordan walked up to me one day and I had to decide if she was, in fact, from the future.
It’s countercultural. It’s nuts.
It’s this final piece that has defined my obsession with the allegory for all these years, ever since we studied philosophy and rhetoric in college.
We studied Plato in high school as well, but how can you understand The Cave when you live in blissful ignorance of things like credit scores and medical bills?
Rather if we’re being honest.. in high school, it’s much easier to understand Dante’s Inferno; there’s nothing like the combination of hormones, AP tests, and an immense lack of control to assist with the manifestation of your own personal circle of hell.
The thing about Dante’s hell, though, is that its entrance is guaranteed with a pre meditated ticket bought by sin. You made your bed, now lie in it. Whereas with The Cave, you can always escape; most just choose not to.
(Aiiight I know what you’re all thinking .. that I’m amping up to go into this big sermon, but alas this post is entirely secular.
Should you want the sermon version click –> hurrr )
Your cave can be anything – a bad relationship, an unsatisfying job, a shitty friend. Quite often it’s on par with societal norms and you have no idea you can escape. You think everyone is destined for a miserable marriage, a boring life. Everyone drinks, everyone smokes. Society (and quite possibly the Illuminati) has placated us all into this blissful ignorance with chemicals in our food, pop music on our radios, and unimportant stories on our news.
Thus it’s this desire to always see my cave which has inspired the blogging, the hyper self awareness and my constant need to over analyze. I strive to find truth. I actively choose discomfort over miserable ignorance.
Humans are stagnant creatures, though, as we all have a tendency to follow the laws of inertia. We have no need to seek change unless forced.
So it’s my theory that “bad”things, challenging things, are the universe’s way of pushing us in a new direction.
Immense dissatisfaction is often the only thing that inspires us to yearn for more.
An especially torturous job, a layoff, a bad night – they’re the catalyst for change, to force us to turn our heads, even if it’s painful.
If one day I wake up and I’m the star of my own Truman Show I’m guna be pissed.
I had (debatably) one shot and I missed out. I cognitively chose black and white Pleasantville over the real world inclusive of sex, art, and color schematics. If I only get access to a smidgen of my brain, I better take full advantage of that bit.
So I encourage you to seek change. To look at your life and any dissatisfaction. Have you crafted any safe zones? Accept it when a tree falls in the middle of your path and you’re forced down an unexpected way. You may be fearful – great!
Fear is not bad. It keeps you from doing stupid things.
But as Elizabeth Gilbert says, “Your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone ‘safe.'”
Regardless of who you think manifested this world, the ways of this universe are pretty intuitive. You may not understand it all in the moment, but just keep at it. Stop placating yourself. Open your eyes. Accept failure. Chase you instincts. Flood the lights on your life and on any shadows you think may be manipulating you into ignorant bliss.
Categories: Musings & Epiphanies