Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dreams, Forgetting, Capitalism, Game

Lest you think Loren has staged some kind of coup d'état around here, I'm posting this quick thought.

A few nights ago, I had the first dream I could remember in a long time. It was more disjointed than usual, and also more topical-- there were elements from my current work life in there, plus people I know and news of the day (via The Daily Show, of course).

To summarize: in the dream, I had to go on a business trip to Iraq (because, y'know, they love the web apps over there), and before I left, I went out with some friends and wanted to sing a karaoke song for my wife. Only I couldn't remember the title of the song, even though it was a well-known Elvis tune and I'd sung it just a few days ago in real life. I kept trying to think of the song title in the dream, but then it was morning, and when I walked outside it was into a street of ruins and rubble. I think a car picked me up at some point, and there was something about missing my flight and not really wanting to go to Iraq, but after that my memory gets hazy.

The recurring motif seemed to be forgetting things, which has been bothering me of late during preparations for The Game. We collect a lot of data and supplies, but we're so busy that we don't always keep them organized. So we end up losing track of things that become important later. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it always has-- I don't like losing things or misplacing things. It's one of those irrational, emotional responses, probably born out of various things I witnessed or experienced as a child. I blame my parents.

Last year, one of my friends sold off most of his considerable DVD movie collection. This was partly to pay the rent, but also to unencumber himself:
It has been said that a thing only has the power you give it. Recently, I have been realizing that I have given far too much power to the things in my life, allowing them to weigh me down and prevent necessary change. So I have decided to take back that power by selling off pretty much everything I own that is not irreplaceable.
There's a sort of innate tension in all of us, I think, between "having stuff" (as George Carlin might put it) and "having something to lose."

On one hand, it's good to have nice things, useful things, and to own them so nobody else messes with them (cf. the tragedy of the commons). Ownership is a powerful concept.

On the other hand, owning something means that you have to protect it from would-be thieves. And you might envy the lifestyle of those criminals, perhaps even glamorize it in popular dramas, thinking that there is always more stuff in the "hoard" of accumulated human artifacts that you're free to borrow as needed, because the fat cats you steal from are too rich for their own good anyway.

But the latter notion is false. Without the people who work to build a civilization, there is nothing for the thieves to steal. You can't have rustlers without something to rustle. And maybe the system is imperfect and unfair, but deciding whether you're going to exploit it, repair it, or ignore it says a lot about your character.

My point is, I don't feel silly for being somewhat attached to certain things. I recognize that they can be replaced, and collecting wealth is not my purpose in life, but it's part of my life.

In the end, the only real value is sentimental value. There are things that we would do for love that we would never do for money.

The Game, for example.

Back to it.
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