The Infinite Hallway (Fate vs Free Will)

  1. We are biologically alive and
  2. We are mentally conscious of this fact which
  3. Allows free will.

Yes, when analyzed, we are but a whirlwind of quarks bouncing upon quantum foam.  We have no knowledge of why quarks behave the way they do – it is intrinsically random.  If we were self-aware of every aspect that makes up who we are as a biologically living, mentally conscious, “free” individual, we would see the foundations of our thought processes are sealed in that of unexplainable synchronicities.  We are not those fractals.  Beyond a base level, do these constraints matter?  Do you first look at the top of a skyscraper, or do you analyze its foundation?  The answer is obvious – in every practical consideration of the term, we have free will.  Yes, there are societal constructs (these are breaking) and there are physical constructs.  However, even though we have no control of the rules in life, it is ultimately up to us how we play (or if we play).

Free will is embraced in optimism, while pessimism takes logical refuge in fate.  Both pessimists/optimists stand in the same hallway, with billions of doors to explore.  The pessimist realizes there are multiple floors and that only one door (which may not even exist) holds access to exploring the other hallways.  This mindset is intensified with the realization that there are also multiple buildings containing even more hallways, all contained within multiple cities, found on multiple planets, etc. etc.  The pessimist focuses on the repetition of constantly exploring the same hallway over and over again; creating a mindset revolving around life’s limitations and the “cruel fate” we have been subjected to.

The context of what’s behind each door is ever-changing.  Those who believe in fate see the limitations and recognize that life plays out like an experiment in a laboratory.  Replace the rodent and the maze with a human and the aforementioned infinite hallway.  The point?  How long before we run out of curiosity?  How long do our most intense moments of discovery last?  How long before the desire to free ourselves from ignorance becomes too repetitious and we grow weary of constantly opening new doors?

The optimist does not focus on this heavy realization.  Yes, while aware of our limited potential, free will ultimately understands that without this existential suffering, we could never experience the revitalization felt when discovering something truly holy, sacred, revolutionary or loving.  The mindset which embraces free will shall walk the hallway and admire its never-ending layers in silenced awe, never bothering to worry about an upstairs or a downstairs floor.

The optimist lives for the next moment; every moment like a lottery in which one picks their own numbers and draws them from a spinning pot.  Being that the ink is abrasive and easy to detect, with enough concentration, the optimist hopes to pull only the numbers found upon their own ticket.  This process of matching and selecting the best of life’s randomness continues until they have found themselves entirely and intentionally lost in plain sight; dancing in the realization of infinite potential and ever thankful for the experience.

This experience is the same experience which pessimism (and fate’s mindset) views as a cold and unrelenting experiment – all for the amusement of some distant observer.  Free will sees the observer as the true experiment.  This mindset finds freedom through transcendence of the boundaries; finding never-ending space and place to rest and contemplate.  The optimist knows that if the question is being thrown toward us (How long before we stop caring about finding novelty?) that an observer is awaiting an answer.  The joy and lifeblood of any optimistic mindset comes from the loving feeling of wanting to live up to human potential and being gracious to have even had the chance.  As this is an extended metaphor, the observer of this experiment and the one within the experiment of conscious (but limited) life are but the same person.

As children, the world is novel and even tragic moments come with the ecstasy of a truly new experience!  Fate says we are confined to search for novelty until we grow tired of the never-ending futile quest, but if we are confined and conscious, we will always have free choices to make.  Moments of shared transcendence continuously occur in reaction to progressive culture.  This essentially proves that when faced with the challenge to explore a billion doors or give up and become self-destructive (escapism), collectively, we have chosen to explore.

Fate and free will, optimism and pessimism – these are both sides of the same coin.  We are whole and feel different from day to day, inexplicably, like quarks (the foundation of our experience).  Today I am an optimist and tomorrow I will no doubt face thoughts of purposelessness.  The point is not that we “contradict” yesterday’s mantra in today’s actions, or that we can detect patterns of disappointment.  The truth is we do have the capacity to listen.  With this capacity comes potential for a love of life, that which goes beyond positive/negative thinking and that which is for transcendent purpose – to embrace every perspective, to attempt to empathize and to share our findings with any open ear.

A final thought:

If given immortality and omnipresent wisdom from birth, what would be the motivation to explore the hypothetical hallway, if one knew what was behind every door?  Knowledge of surroundings would not necessarily indicate transcendence from fate and if anything, it would lead to a desire to create an experiment the likes of which we now find ourselves metaphorically within.  From this perspective, it would appear that we are freer as mice in a maze, than the observers themselves.  It becomes obvious how true free will does not only occur when one is free of responsibility, but as an embraceable mindset possible in any circumstance.

Lyrical Analysis: “The Robber Fancy” by Charles Dickens

“When from thy boiling store, thou shalt fill each jar brim full by and by, dost thou think that thou wilt always kill outright the robber Fancy lurking within — or sometimes only maim him and distort him!”

-Charles Dickens, Hard Times, 1854

The key word in this poetic warning to overly-reliant intellectualism is “Fancy” — capitalized in the book presumably for emphasis.  Earlier in the chapter, a schoolgirl (Cecilia Jupe) is called out for wishing to “carpet her room with representations of flowers”, simply responding how she finds the imagery “pretty and pleasant”.  She fancies the flowers, and immediately after her admittance of this opinion, her teachers brashly lecture how all her thoughts should come from a place of fact (as opposed to “fancy”).

The quote from above comes after a lengthy paragraph describing essentially a perfectly educated teacher (M’Choakumchild) knowledgeable in just about everything one could reasonably expect to know.  “The boiling store“, then, refers to M’Choakumchild’s mind, steaming with information to a point of overload.  With this stored knowledge, he desires to “fill each jar (to the) brim full” with the same knowledge, so that the process can forever continue — a world of men and women who know fact and nothing else.  The children of the classroom, in particular Cecilia (whom is filled with “fancy” and thus resistance towards this process), are the latest empty jars to be filled with said fact.

Dickens counters the schoolteacher’s over-confidence (“dost thou think that thou wilt always“) with the realistic notion that not everyone will always take so kindly to a world of fact and nothing more.  In the chapter Cecilia is clearly discouraged by this onslaught against the fun and fanciful world she once knew, before being subjected to a realm of fact.  Dickens recognizes her individual spirit, and jests towards the schoolteacher — calling “Fancy” a “robber lurking within“, as if to suggest that Fact is un-natural and that in the end Fancy lurks within every mental jar, threatening to overthrow that which has been artificially placed (Fact).

This passage essentially states how it is improbable to expect someone to completely bend to your chosen system, in this context “fact”, and expect them to adapt without compromise.  Indeed, it ends with the ominous line, “or sometimes only to main him and distort him!” — “him” referring to “the robber” which of course refers to “Fancy”.  Subjecting your mindset to another without regard for empathy will not only fail to truly add something new, but it will also pervert what was once natural and pure.  M’Choakumchild may be very well-versed in education and overall knowledge, but in the process he has lost his ability to relate to those he wishes to teach (Cecilia).  As Dickens says in the same chapter:

“If he had only learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more!”