Androids, Electric Sheep and Perpetual Motion: Life Lessons from Philip K Dick
Chaos is Necessary…
We're making plans for a family outing to the new Bladerunner movie this weekend. It's on new release, and the internet is buzzing with stories about Philip K Dick, who is the author of the short story that inspired the original Bladerunner film. This quote, in particular, caught my eye,
...I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem.
I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it.
Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe.
The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish.
This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly.
What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live.
And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.
My shortened version of what Dick is saying here is that life is in perpetual motion, and therefore anything we do to search for, or impose order and structure is ultimately fruitless.
Getting Back to Authenticity
A better strategy is to approach life knowing that its very nature is one of change.
That loss, disappointment and rebirth are unavoidable, and, if we want to live an authentic life—a life that is true to our (human) nature—then we must embrace that reality.
Holding this duality, as I sometimes describe it: the idea that we are alive and that we are creative, loving beings, together with the idea that life is ephemeral, that our world changes before our very eyes; is the key to living life with a sense of purpose and well-being.
Holding this duality as true is what gives us the freedom to throw ourselves into work that matters, to fully embrace and to love our families and friends, to step forward with all our heart and commitment and reach for dreams that inspire us.
And, at the same time, knowing that we matter little in the grander scheme of things.
You Are the Universe in Ecstatic Motion…
Think of the words of Rumi as an antidote to the rigid search for order and stability; to putting things and people in boxes, and, by doing that, making them less than they are,
Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.
Stop acting so small.
You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.
We Are Life…
I love that—we are the universe in ecstatic motion. I take that to mean that we have a ‘life’ that goes beyond us, that we cannot be conscious of, that we cannot control. And why would we. What beauty there is in allowing the universe to reveal itself through you.
I don't know how my evening at the Bladerunner movie will turn out. Maybe it will be a letdown and I'll romanticise my memories of seeing the original. Maybe we'll find it engaging, a feat of storytelling and on-screen drama.
Either way, I have no plan to create order and stability, even in a small event such as a cinema trip. I can only experience it as it shows up.
Order, or Chaos?
It can be tempting to imagine that we can exert some kind of control; that bringing a structure to our lives is somehow ‘better’.
Or do you see it as an organic unfolding? That the joy of being alive is in experiencing the unknown, no matter how it might make us feel.
To go back to Philip K Dick, when were thrown into chaos, we see the authentic human who can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.
How wonderful is that…
P.S. If you've already seen it, no movie spoilers please!