[Media Meandry] Arts of Impermanence

These plants only existed in Viridi because I told you they existed. They were digital flowers, so did they really exist at all? When we do things in life, why do we focus on whether they’ll be tangible going forward? Why not do things because we enjoy them, or because we know they’ll make others happy? If we have to assign our own meaning to reality and life is impermanent, why not build something impermanent?

I think of most everything in life in terms of sand mandalas.

Although writing essays like this represents a slight perversion of this notion, where after I experience noteworthy experiences I want to capture them as mementos for later, I’ve been leaning into the notion of preferring experiences over materialistic things and it’s led me into some interesting directions. In Viridi, for example, many people write on forums about wanting to keep their flowers but also achieve a certain goal where you have to throw out 100 of your matured flowers.

There is a cheat for this but I choose to go the honest route.

My alternative is to grow an entire flower pot to maturity then throw out all of them at once. The screenshot above represents the second time I’ve done this, where thrown each plant away. When you do this for all of your plants, it resets that flower pot, so you can start fresh with a new batch. I have four other flower pots that I keep for various reasons, but this one is the most radical – excuse the tie-in with the cats wearing radical glasses – departure from my previous hoarding mentalities years ago.

I used to want to keep everything and now I’m OK with throwing things away.

Before going out today, I took a quick assessment of anything to throw out.

I would have never had such an assessment years ago, because everything from old mail to almost-trash had some sort of meaning, which meant it was important enough to keep. Now, although I do still appreciate things, I know their place better. If an empty shampoo bottle has no reusability, where you might recycle it within your home for some crafty purpose, recycle it. You can get another one later. If it’s difficult to part ways with, don’t do it immediately. Wait some time, then when you’re ready, throw it out.

I had this traveler’s shampoo bottle for years until I just used it.

I’m not sure where I got this little bottle. It was probably a sample I’d acquired at some point and, surprise, never used. I had neglected it for so long that I had lost any outward meaning toward it. I’m trying to clear out things as best I can now, and something like that doesn’t have much use for me. I don’t plan on traveling anywhere anytime soon, and if I find myself somewhere where I need to shower, or have the opportunity to shower, then they should have things available for me to use.

I was OK with using up and letting go of that object.

Similarly, I’m OK with doing things in life, even if I can’t write about them later.

Sometimes, they’ll rematerialize as memories that I might think about while writing that could be relevant. They live on through experiences like that. That soap bottle is not unique, but everyone can vaguely piece together their own idea of what that soap bottle, less than the size of my pointer and middle finger put together, white, with thick soap, looks like in their heads. It’s a shared idea now. You have that bottle in your head and I have mine. We can share it, so why should I worry about owning it?

Why should we worry about owning anything in general?

I’ve been on medical leave for the past two weeks and am starting my next two weeks of medical leave now. I’ve kept track of how much time I’ve spent doing what. I haven’t spent any time reading books or anything other than being at my laptop, here, and doing some other things. I should diversify my resting-my-back interests, since I have many books I’d like to read, but the activities I’ve chosen are mainly impermanent videogames. The achievements I am rewarded in-game, or the experiences I have with them, mean nothing to anyone except for me.

Writing about them brings those experiences out so I can share them with others.

If I’ve achieved something that could be wiped at any time, what value would it have, other than to those who are experiencing it in that moment? If I write about what that experience meant to me, maybe you can connect with it to an experience you had. Maybe you, too, wanted to see what would happen if you did something in a videogame “just because.” Maybe you only were driven by some sort of internal motivation that told you to build a massive structure in a videogame to fulfill the itch of having built that structure.

There’s nothing wrong with building something and then watching it go away.

Whether it’s torn down by external or internal forces, was it better to have accomplished what you set out to achieve than to worry about whether you’ll be able to access it again in the future? As I meander through videogames I played in my youth, it might be tempting to start up a half-finished save file to go ahead and complete it, but I think I’d rather start again from scratch. Isn’t that the same thing? I’ve fixed many computers over the years that I’m sure are long-since recycled – or, I hope so. Was all my professional effort wasted there? If I didn’t learn anything from the experience, if I didn’t grow, then maybe. For those experiences, though, I received external validation through a paycheck. We don’t often keep trophies of the work that we’ve accomplished.

Why should we be so concerned with our recreational time if we enjoyed it?

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: See below.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays.
Screenshots: I took these about a week ago when I replaced my plants. I used them with this essay after talking about sand mandalas with someone and finding the video I linked above.
Written On: 2020 May 08 [10:10pm to 10:39pm]
Last Edited: 2020 May 08 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.