ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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Avatar Living

Just returned from a much-needed break. Three days ago, I packed up a sleeping bag, water canteens, spare clothing, hunting/utility knife and emergency supplies for a 48-hour fast/hike far away from civilization. I am tired, but in high spirits. In a consumption-crazed culture, even most “vacations” are little more than weeklong orgies of brand-name chasing, souvenir-acquiring spending sprees. It is rare and precious thing to pause, to breathe (if even for a moment) beyond the reach of our frantic culture of acquisition. Haven’t slept under the stars since Boy Scouts, and it was a wonderful sight to see the nightsky far from city lights.

When was the last time I spent more than 24 hours away from a computer and/or human contact? I can’t even remember. Observation: After 12 hours without food, hunger became sublimed into the subconscious, much the same way we experience the act of blinking: consciously aware of it only when attention is focused to the phenomenon, otherwise ignored.

The brain is accustomed to the constant background chatter of outside stimulus - conversations, advertising, television, computer messages, etc. The total silence of solitude, in comparison, amplifies every thought in your mind; melting away the petty squabbles you’ve nursed and bringing to focus truths otherwise ignored in the crush of day-to-day living. Absent the constant stimulation of others to react to, the mind finds itself forced to slow down and take inventory: What have I been needlessly obsessing over? What is truly important? What can be discarded? Where did I go wrong in scenario [X]? And what do I need to do now?

Now, the heavens didn’t part, and the booming Voice of God (I always figured it would sound like James Earl Jones) didn’t spell out in thundering tones my True Destiny, but then again, I didn’t expect that (after all, I did leave the peyote back home). It was, nonetheless, a useful exercise in identifying my least productive habits and returning back home with a better sense of focus and purpose.

I talked at length about this experience with Andrew this afternoon, and the conversation wandered onto the idea of “living optimally,” whereupon he directed me to his excellent and underexposed essay on the concept of what I’ve dubbed “Avatar Living.”


Imagine that it takes the productive resources of a whole town or city even to afford ‘net access for one individual. Access as rare as a medieval knight’s armor and horse. The same kind of access that you have right now. You’re one of the few, the proud, the ‘surfers’: one of the special people.

To become special, to get here, let’s say you won a kind of election: Many people love who you are and that that’s why you’re given web access. A bunch of people got together, bought a single suit of armor, and asked you to wear it. Your electorate, your constituency, is almost shockingly self-actualized and growth-oriented: Your job is to get as much as you can through the web world and bring back wisdom or expertise or dollars or something good. You’re sufficiently loved that most of your electorate’s pleasure comes simply from their faith that you’ll make good use of the resource and that you’re growing. They would certainly love to see the results of your growth as those results come in, and you’re surely good-hearted enough to speak to them about your travels.

What might that do to your sense of responsibility? To your intensity?
In essence, “Avatar Living” is the idea that you, in your current form, are an avatar representing a constituency of thousands, who entrust you to make wise decisions with the resources at your disposal that they have accumulated.

So will your decisions today disappoint them or make them proud? Where would you like to go today?
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