Inside human sandbox (with a dog)

The attacks on Ukraine with increasing human casualties have caused me to finally face something I had been reluctant to touch before. The idiotic and grotesque face of humanity that each of us wears to an extent, but seldom wants to admit.

For a while I thought I was feeling disappointed, even angry at the notion of aggression and war happening so close. Later I realised that this predicament freed me up to see the human world as it has been all along. Flawed. Angry. Blind. Foolish.

Humans haven’t been nice and loving. Parts of us have been power-hungry manipulative monsters, always. If we don’t act it out towards other countries, we do it in our own, inside our towns, villages and homes. Deep inside, most humans want to win and have more.

As long as we can get away with it.

Why do humans do this?

‘What’s wrong with them, with us?’ I asked the powers-that-be on my morning forest walk as my stubby dog raided the snow-topped shrubs for the first scents of spring. 

‘Why do humans do this? Why do we fight?’

I listened to the wind for the answer, feeling certain that someone had heard the question.

‘There is nothing wrong with humans,’ the response arrived and I grimaced at the thought. This wasn’t the answer I wanted. Something was wrong or there wouldn’t be wars. Something was wrong or I wouldn’t be feeling like so sad and confused about the state of the world.

‘I don’t accept this answer,’ I allowed my anger and confusion rise up. ‘Mankind is wrong to hurt and kill and cause suffering. We should be better and kinder and smarter about these things. Where is the love?!’

The powers-that-be must have found my outburst amusing for I sensed a wave of soft joy responding to my defiant outburst. ‘Everywhere,’ they whispered to my mind. ‘Love is everywhere.’

‘You say it, but I can’t see it,’ I halted my step and almost growled at the unseen presence. This earned me a troubled look from the dog. ‘Go run,’ I said to him and returned to the burning question inside. ‘Clearly there is no love in the killing, the destruction and the propaganda. Why are humans like this? The truth please.’ 

When no immediate answer came, I took a deep breath and focused on increasing my yearning for understanding. ‘I just want the truth,’ I repeated to myself and to the listening forest. ‘I want to know what makes us who we are. What makes us human?’

There was a moment of hesitation, perhaps my own or perhaps from whatever I was connected to. Then the feeling turned to agreement and I remembered something I had heard many years ago. All seeking from the heart will yield results. All sincere requests for truth will be honoured. 

The dog ran back to check up on me, but turned as he saw me walking towards him. Following the small furry figure through the pines, I opened my mind wide and prepared to receive.

One. Humans are ignorant.

‘First facet of human condition is being ignorant,’ the powers-that-be began and I couldn’t help but snicker. ‘Yes, do not look far for evidence. You are well aware of your own engagement in stupidity.’

I nodded in wholehearted agreement. I have caught myself doing idiotic and silly things every day. Forgetting stuff, making tiny errors in details, worrying about the future and all that. I hadn’t considered that such behaviour was a species-specific condition, like having two legs and no visible tail.

‘You mean we’re not smart enough to make rational decisions? Too emotional, impulsive?’

‘Not precisely. To be born as a human is to assume a veil of confusion, a layer of ignorance. You do no possess the means or the need to see the reality or truth as it is. As such, humans can only act with limited understanding.’

I shook my head with the insinuation, feeling that even if I meditated on this facet for the rest of my life, I would not be able to grasp it entirely.

‘So in truth, we’re all born to be… idiots?’ I asked, trying to wrap my head around it. ‘Everyone, even me? Even those people who look smart or say smart things?’

‘Yes,’ and there was softness in the word and in what followed. 

‘Every human, without exception, is, as you so crudely put it, an idiot. You are like children of the light, unaware of the troubles and the blessings of your creators, playing in your sandbox, getting excited by things. Shiny, heavy, loud, tiny, grand, slick, rough, curvy. Imagine billions of children in one gigantic sandbox, bestowing a myriad of illustrious meanings to each grain of sand without ever knowing the nature of the sandbox or what exists beyond.’

The realisation hit me and I stopped to balance myself on a tree. At that moment I forgave myself for every ‘stupid and ignorant’ thing I had ever done or thought or assumed. Forgave myself and everyone else. We are humans. We don’t have to be better than we are. 

The dog noticed my stopping and ran back towards me. Looking at him, I realised that I’ve never begrudged this tiny creature for being a dog.

Why then have I been frustrated with humans being humans? Probably because I’m an idiot.

The powers-that-be allowed me some moments for processing, but as soon as I felt done, they brushed into my mind again. ‘There is more.’

I let go of the tree and walked on.

Two. Humans are blessed.

’Second facet of the human condition is that as children of light, you are blessed, protected and cared for.’

My breath released a relieved sigh. This was a more familiar turf. Life was a blessing. Yes.

‘Your planet is abundant with possibilities that sustain your body and enhance your experiences of exploration. Sights, smells, tastes, textures, sensations of any kind are widely available. The vast and unique array of feelings you may experience as part of your human life is a blessing grander than anything you have words for in your language.’

Yes! I thought and inspired by the dog, tried to smell a tree to partake of all that abundance. The bark felt rough on the tip of my nose, but it didn’t smell of anything. I chuckled at my foolishness.

‘Also, we can be aware of our awareness of such experiences,’ I stated as I moved on to playfully test my nose on another tree. ‘Our awareness extends further than our instinctual experiences. We can observe the experience of being human.’

‘To an extent of your language, yes,’ they agreed to the fact that awareness is limited by language. 

‘We can only be aware of what we can name?’ 

‘Not precisely. You can be aware of things you can not name, but the protection of ignorance will slide off towards the familiar, to what you can name. Thus children keep their games inside the sandbox and define their reality merely through the grains it contains.’

The second tree also didn’t smell like anything. Maybe they only smell lower to the ground? I looked at the dog raising his leg against one and decided against further testing.

‘So what’s the point of the sandbox? Why do we even play?’ I asked instead, wondering why the metaphor came up again and somehow remembering that love has to be important too. ‘And how does love fit into it?’

Love is one of my favourite subjects, and the powers-that-be better know it.
We walked on.

Three. Humans have a choice.

‘The third facet of human condition is that you possess a unique ability to choose how to fuel your experience, your creation. Love is one path of accessing energy that you may use to take pleasure in all the possibilities in your sandbox.’

Right, I remembered. Choosing to love is an energy generator. The origin of all energy is the action of free will upon love. That made sense.

‘And the other path is fear, right?’ I asked, kind of knowing the answer already.

‘Yes,’ I received confirmation. ‘Fear also contains an energy source, especially useful in the context of survival. But, as you know, it is not a sustainable energy source for it depletes the human condition.’

I had known that. When we live in sustained fear, our aliveness will gradually dim. We may even lose the will to live. Fear can keep us alive, but not for long. Love is a better path for sure.

‘So humans are stuck in the sandbox because they…or I mean we have to choose to love? That’s it?’
It wasn’t the most elegant question to ask, but I was curious. Are we here to learn to choose love?

’There is no mission for humans to choose love. While a wise choice, the human condition allows for all choice within the sandbox. As an energy source, the request of fear is also available. In the sandbox, you may focus on a grain of sand or another child of light and offer love or initiate the condition of fear. Both options fuel opportunities for various experiences.’

‘Both choices are valid?’ I thought about the war again. ‘Neither one is wrong then?’

‘All choice is a divine gift for the human condition inside the metaphor of the sandbox. Each choice submits to the law of causality and bears a consequence mostly contained within the sandbox. From this perspective, all choices are agreeable.’

I didn’t know how to respond to that and felt myself growing tired of the walk and the lecture. Still I had one last question burning underneath all my sadness and confusion. The one I had entered the forest with.

What should we do?

‘How do we win against the bad guys?’ I asked.

I barely managed to direct the question when the dog needed my attention again. He had decided to poop just at the edge of the road that bordered the forest. I stopped focusing on my process to fish out a little plastic bag.

’Do you love your dog less because he shits on the road?’
The question startled me, but my answer was obvious. ‘No, of course not. I just clean it up.’ And I did.

‘There are no bad guys, as you put it,’ the response continued as we walked on. ‘You are all children of light, making foolish choices in a world of blessings.’

It dawned on me. ‘Are you saying that we’re just supposed to kindly accept when some of those children shit all over the place, and then we will clean it up?’

A preposterous idea, even if it felt loving and nice and whatever. One must be a saint to think like that. Or an idiot. And we established that I am one. If the shoe fits?

‘You can do better than that,’ the powers-that-be interrupted me.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked, but received no words to explain. Instead, there was an odd feeling, a mixture of patience and trust. I had to figure it out myself. A better choice than kind acceptance? I was fairly certain that the answer wasn’t fighting back or any form of human justice, but couldn’t come up with anything right away. We walked on.

We arrived at a fence with a Rottweiler who started barking as soon as we entered his territory. My tiny stump of a dog jumped to the fence, barking back at the dog three times his size. I looked at them both for a moment, then walked on and called my dog off. I still carried a warm smelly bag of shit in my left hand.

‘I can love them, you mean,’ I finally said to the air of patience around me. ‘I can love the bad guys.’

‘You possess the ability to choose to love everyone in your sandbox. Without exceptions.’

‘And that will be the smartest possible thing I could do here,’ I realised, grasping for a way to be a little less stupid than I had been a minute ago.

‘Yes. It will.’

Suddenly, where I had felt attention and agreement, there was emptiness. The source of my answers had either departed or withdrawn, leaving me to pick up the pieces of myself from our conversation. And it was well. I was tired from the exercise, from having my mind twisted around itself again. Plus I still had to find a trash can.

The dog found it first at the next street over, excited by the smells of the trash and didn’t have the heart to tell him to stop sticking his nose into everything. I love this dog so much. I could never hate him for being a dog. I simply dropped the poop bag and we walked home.

Could I possibly love humans for just being human? Shits and violence and all?

Perhaps if I sugarcoat each of us into being a silly child of light. It’s not cheating if it’s true.

***

If you managed to read this all the way through, I applaud you fervently and wish you a beautiful, ignorant and blessed time full of choices that benefit your own aliveness and creativity. 

Also, look for images of sand under a microscope. The metaphor will make even more sense. And what the heck, choose to fall in love with something or someone today. Just because you’re alive and you can.

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