Is there anyone who hasn’t played a video game? I suspect not. I used to play an online game called World of Warcraft. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop games. I used to play Live-Action Role Playing games (LARPs). All of these games involve creating a character through which you can participate in the game.
The character generation process involves things like choosing if you will play a human, elf, ogre, or any other creature permitted in your game. You choose what occupation your character has, whether she is a warrior, a healer, an archer, or a wizard. Is your character male or female? Many games have the attributes (strength, charisma, intelligence, flexibility, etc) chosen by roll of the dice, and some games give you a certain number of points that you can distribute as you desire. You get to choose your starting equipment, such as a sword or a magic wand, a backpack, a canteen, etc. People can spend hours creating just the right character to play the game. Many people also create elaborate back stories for their characters to give their characters depth and intrigue. Many, many role playing game (RPG) characters are bastard children of nobles, or runaway slaves, or something equally exotic. Players will often choose to have their characters be related in some way, such as siblings or lovers. One of my favorite D&D characters was a half dragon, half elf war illusionist. She used her power of illusion to defeat enemies in open combat. She was such a fun character and I loved playing her so much that I chose to use her name (Segwyne) as my internet handle.
How to roll a human being
Why am I explaining the character creation process? I no longer have time in my life for such escapism (though I do manage to find time for Facebook – hmmm), but after reading one of my favorite bloggers, I have found this to be a great way to think about life. I think that the vast majority of religions believe that our body is inhabited by a soul, and it is the presence or absence of this soul that defines life v. death. Reality as we experience it, this one in which I am typing up this post and you are reading it, is the game. Our lives here and now are our characters, and our animating soul is the player at the game.
Before we are born (enter the game), our soul (capitalized WE or US from now on) chooses what attributes we will have. Whether we are male or female, born in America or Pakistan or Fiji, gay or straight, healthy or sickly, tall or short, and on and on. WE choose whether we are born into poverty or wealth, raised by two, one, or no parents, and our general personality traits. We set our starting point in the game.
Now, if you’ve ever gotten really good at a video game, you probably don’t want to play the easiest levels anymore. They are boring because you’ve done them already and you want a challenge. When we come into this life, we set goals. There are obstacles and situations that we want to face to see if we can overcome them. And then there is the extra handicap we give ourselves to make it the ultimate challenge – we forget. We forget that we set the parameters of our game before we came into this life. We forget that there is more to us than what we can see and that this living material body is only one tiny portion of the greater US. We forget that, just like video game players, we agreed to confront each other, or support each other. We actively chose all the circumstances of our game of life, from what we look like, to who our family is, to who our children are, to all the obstacles we put in our path to overcome.
Just like in a video game, if we fail to make it over an obstacle, we can try again. So if we did not meet the goal that WE wanted to, WE will put that obstacle back in our path and try again. It isn’t some karmic lesson that we are required to learn by God. It is an achievement that our soul is trying to accomplish. Once we have completed as many achievements as we want with this life, WE can decide to roll up a new character and try again with different skills and attributes and goals.
Have you ever wondered why we have so many people with disabilities today? I believe that it is one of the attributes THEY choose when creating their character to add an extra bit of flavor and challenge to their experience. Perhaps in previous lives they have already accomplished great things, helped many people, and changed the world for the better. Now they are ready for the next level of challenge. Can they make as big of an impact on the world around them if they have this disability? Take the case of Jordyn Castor. She was born blind and is a computer programmer working on making technology more accessible for people with disabilities. (Thank you, Heather, for bringing her story to my attention). She said, “Blindness does not define you. It’s part of who you are as a person, as a characteristic — but it does not define you or what you can do in life.” All these children who are being born with autism or Rett syndrome or cerebral palsy are, in my opinion, upping their game, setting a harder challenge for themselves. They are ready to take on the toughest challenges.
And what about the families of these children? As I said before, we choose our parents. Our parents also choose us. The part of US that we aren’t aware of is quite capable of making agreements with other souls while playing this game. Just as gamers can make agreements around the gaming table (or over the console) without their characters being aware of it, so can our souls make them without our awareness. I chose to have a daughter who would test the limits of my strength. I chose to learn the lesson of boundary setting, and she agreed to support me in this challenge. She agreed to be my teacher, and I have just been very stubborn about learning (or not, as the case may be) my lesson. I knew ahead of time that this would be a tough lesson for me, and so I found a soul willing to be a strong teacher. Likewise, I agreed to support her in her goals for this life.
We are God, God is us
Just as our material existence is one small portion of our greater soul, so, too, is our greater soul one small portion of God. And I do not use the word God in the way that religion does. I mean that God is the greatest collective consciousness. God is neither good nor evil. It just is. And we are one tiny portion of God. Yes, I will say it again, WE and we are God. To drastically change analogies, here, God is a giant ball of play dough. Souls are pieces that we pull off for a while to play with, and then return to the larger ball when we’re done. That is what Christianity calls the Holy Spirit — that little spark of God that breaks off and animates us for a while before returning to the greater whole when we die.
Am I totally off the wall for framing life this way? Does this analogy help explain anything for you, or give you hope? Do you feel any different in your relationship with yourself? Please share your insights with us below.