Conversation with a cosmic observer



I am working on the piece “Poisonous plant in the Garden of your Thoughts” from March 2019:

“But what’s easy, and what’s difficult?” came the question again. I knew it was important to answer because for decades I believed it must be hard to make money, to be successful, to make your dreams come true. It must be a struggle. But how difficult? When has one struggled enough?

“The answer you’re looking for even though you haven’t asked the right question,” emerged the thought from the part of my brain that hadn’t actively been talking out loud in the shower, “is that you’ll never make it. That was your actual programming. The struggle part is just because you have to do something. You have to try. Otherwise, what are you doing with your life?”

I thought: It’s almost as if two cosmic characters have been observing what I do over the years, with one asking the other, “Shouldn’t we just tell him?”

“What?” the other guy asks. “That he’s just a machine executing his programming, that he’s not supposed to make it? No, let’s not. His struggles give him something to do. It gives meaning to his life. What else is he going to do – sit around and watch TV all day, get fat, get sick, and die? The struggle gives him hope. Hope gives him something to live for.”


“Wow, how much longer do I have to struggle? Why is everything so difficult for me? Why does it seem like I know what to do, but I don’t do it? ” asks a fictional version of me from the not-too-distant past.

One of my cosmic observers suddenly shrugs his shoulders, and looks in the direction of the balcony where the other observer is staring into the distance.

“What?” the fictional version of me asks. “Do you know something I don’t?”

The cosmic observer widens his eyes. His eyebrows go up. His head tilts. “Well …”

“Come on! Out with it!” I prompt.

The observer slowly shakes his head. “I can get in trouble for this,” he begins. “I’m not supposed to tell you anything.”

“But you’re here now, and we’re talking, and the other guy is on the balcony, and I already know you want to say something.”

“Okay,” the observer sighs. “The fact of the matter is that you’re not supposed to make it. Sorry … You’re supposed to struggle all your life, and then you die. It’s your programming.”

“My programming?” asks the fictional version of me from the not-too-distant past shocked. “What does it mean? Everything I do is in vain?”

“Well, not quite. You see … you’re basically a machine that’s only executing your programming. All your efforts and projects and struggles … give you something to fill your days with. I mean, what else would you do? It gives you something to believe in. It gives you hope for a better tomorrow. And it’s better to believe in something and hope for something than to have no hope and faith, is not it?”

“So I’m just a machine that follows my programming, and then I die?”

“Well … it may sound strange, but the truth is more complex. To be honest, it’s much better, and much more hopeful than that. It’s just – and all the cosmic observers agree – that most people just follow their programming, live more or less happy lives – some by nature much happier than others, and then they die. So, you’re like most people in this regard. And you are happy most of the time, aren’t you?”

“But there’s so much more I want to do, so much more of life I want to enjoy, so much more I want to experience. And if I can do it … I know how to explain things to other people so they can also have a better understanding, so that they can also solve more of their own problems, and live better lives, and enable their children to live better lives.”

“Well,” the cosmic observer starts again, “nothing has been determined here. That’s what most people never realise. Most people live their lives without ever realising that they can reprogram themselves. There is no central point or figure in the cosmos that programs everyone, and then they just have to slavishly follow their programming. People program each other. Parents program their children. People in positions of authority program people who look to them for guidance. And so the world goes on. Us cosmic observers just keep an eye on everything. We control nothing. You pull your own strings. Most people just never break through the thin paper wall that stands between them and the fuller life that can be theirs at any time. Believe me, you are not the only person with flawed or problematic programming. I mean, there are people with problematic programming when it comes to romantic relationships, when it comes to alcohol and drugs, when it comes to relationships with people who don’t think or live or believe like them. You don’t want to know how many people die every day as victims of their problematic programming. And I’m not saying it’s always easy, but people can look at their own programming, and they can change what’s not working. People have enormous capacity to transform themselves and live lives that are fuller than they could ever dream of. But most people are, sorry to say, to a large extent machines that most of the time just execute their programming. It doesn’t have to be this way. You have access to the keyboard and the interface to change your programming. Nothing is predetermined. You are in control of your own life.”