What Are We Doing Here?
"This is a life of illusion
Wrapped up in trouble and laced with confusion
What are we doing here?”
From the song “Grease” by The Four Seasons & Frankie Valli
This is a part of the chorus from one of the most iconic American musicals “Grease”. Growing up this movie was a staple of the summer and in our small Chicago neighborhood where no one was a stranger, we were given the introduction to this musical from an Italian family with whom we were very close. Still to this day this is one of those movies that I will never tire of watching, but it wasn’t until recently when I put this song on my iPod that I actually listened to what the words of the song were saying. I was quite surprised to hear that beyond the well-known chorus, there were lyrics mixed in there about life and the perplexities that come along with it. And to find these lyrics here got me thinking toward formulating an answer.
What are we doing here? There has never been a question that I have thought about more and as is a thread that runs through all of my other Hubs to date, I believe that no matter the why, while we are here, we need display the fortitude of good will towards others. But that does not answer the question, why are we here? As we have been given the power of free will, should not that free will include the ability to truly choose any course of action without consequence? The rhythm of nature works in such a way that the consequence of the lion being hungry is that some animal must provide for that hunger. In that scenario does the lion or its prey have free will? Perhaps in some form they do, but ultimately they are not driven by free will, but by the necessity to survive. Nature is a great recycler and as one animal is in need, another fills that need. The level of consciousness found in Nature operates under one form, survival, and the lion’s level of consciousness revolves around sustaining that ability to survive.
Man on the other hand has taken the steps to move himself out of that state. Our free will is not bound by survival and the instinctual behavior that it creates, and inherently I believe that free will comes with a price. We have created an existence that allows us to explore territories beyond what we could initially garner from nature. We create music, we pen literature, we produce art, we invent. Those activities are all but impossible to nurture under the conditions imposed by survival of the fittest, and I think that as aside to that, we also then have to bear the consequences of what we are able to create. We no longer exist as the lion does, and we are no longer held by the restrictions that survival of the fittest imposes, yet the lion still exists. So even in our immediate surroundings there seem to be differing levels of consciousness and varying definitions of what it means to hold life. If free will could represent a shift in consciousness, could there then be a general progression of consciousness? Darwin argued that life evolves, but does consciousness evolve?
In Darwin’s theory life either evolves or it will perish. Species that cannot adapt will be replaced by those who do. Now I have always felt that represents somewhat of a contradiction. For certainly we as a species have advanced, surpassed and evolved far past the abilities of any other species. And yet this Earth is still inhabited by a vast amount of other species who do not share those abilities. If survival of the fittest were truly the only rule that applied to this game, I believe we would be the only ones here. As that is not the case apparently an existence where there are multiple levels of consciousness is of some benefit and of some purpose. Ultimately I would argue that the picture of life represented here has more dimension than simply just evolving out of a necessity to survive. Could evolution itself then represent something more than simply just a method for adapting to an environment?
Is evolving to fit within an environment the only purpose that evolution could possibly satisfy? If the essential goal for life through evolution was to evolve by a means through which life transforms for the better by way of successive modification, then I think the picture of life witnessed here would be different. If life’s only intention was to evolve so that it could best master its environment, would life have not abandoned all other avenues other than being human? And the response that while some were given the use of speed or endurance, the ability to change color and blend in with environment, and we were simply just given the use of thought, which in the end turned out to be the ability that overrode all others, doesn’t provide for much of an answer either. That would leave everything to chance, which there are many who would believe that is what this life is, a great big chance floating in the vastness of space.
But as I have lived my life, experienced what I have, and then analyzed those experiences, I don’t believe there is such a thing as chance. I believe there are intentions, actions, thoughts, consequences, all working together in some form to bring us exactly what we see before us. If we had wanted it any other way, it would have been that other way. Some claim to chance meetings with old friends, or with an old co-worker who then gets you an interview that gains you that new job. I don’t believe there is chance written anywhere in there. I think at some level you were thinking of that person, or that outcome and they were doing the same. So the probability of your meeting became narrower and narrower. Or if it was that new job that was being sought out and that possibility had continually been on your mind, then eventually the circumstances around you would have arranged themselves to lend to that outcome.
The world is rich with life for a reason. And while I do believe that life while here has to evolve in order to survive the environment, that is not the only reason why life exists, nor how life came into existence or why life continues to exist in the many forms that it does. I think there is reason why there are many stages that a life can hold, and ultimately I think that points to more than just an evolution driven by environment. If something were to truly evolve for the better, I think there would have to be stages to that evolution. Just as we ourselves grow from infants, to toddlers, to children, to teenagers, to adults; all the while learning, maturing and hopefully ending better than we started. Even in our own lives we can be seen to evolve through stages where the end result is hopefully that we become increasingly proficient at mastering that existence. For certainly there are things we can accomplish as an adult that we are not able to fathom as an infant. But if a soul or the idea of a self not dependent on any physical thing needed to evolve what conditions would it need?
If survival of the fittest has represented one rule in this game of many, and that is a rule that we have progressed past, like moving from playing checkers to playing chess, then where next does that take us and of what benefit could that possibly be? Could perhaps we as a whole be moving through different states of consciousness, just as we have moved past the state of consciousness found in the lion hunting its prey? Or as the song indicates, are these just another of the states in this “life of illusion”? If this life is just an illusion or if it is something more, either way I would say that we are changing the way we interact with and ultimately are able to view that illusion by changing our level of consciousness. So my best guess, what are we doing here? We are here evolving our conscious. As to what we might be evolving too? Well I guess I will have to find another song to evoke what that answer might be.