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Born Free?
David Rutherfor muses on the very nature of life, jobs and progeny


Something has been eating away at me for some time now, unsettling me,
causing me to toss and turn at night and in general getting under my skin. I've been racking my brain for over a month now wondering what it could be. Then last night after watching Blade Runner on video for the countless time it came to me during the closing scenes, in which, Batty the android close to death himself acquires a degree of humanity and saves the life of his adversary.

Batty - "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, I watched sea beams glitter in the dark near the Tan Hauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain. Time to die".

Adversary - "I don't know why he saved my life, maybe in those final moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life anybody's life my life. All he wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?"
Bladerunner

It was upon hearing those words once again that I remembered amongst the many things I had to do this summer was write a piece relating to ' what is your philosophy for life'.

For me it is like being asked to open Pandora's box, life is something I have struggled to make much sense of. In part this is due to the fact that I have yet to reach an acceptance of what the brief period of time (life) that we have all been allotted is about. For as long as I can remember I have always hated the notion of death, I clearly remember as a very young child waking up one night, running downstairs and alarming my parents with the news that they were going to die. The sudden realisation at that young age of our own mortality angered me as much as it did the androids in Blade Runner and has troubled me much of my life. Discovering that we are no better off than them I am often torn between wondering whether life is the most precious of gifts or the sickest of jokes - as someone once said, "to know one can die is to be dead already".

Although I haven't struck out on a course of vengeance against my creator as the androids did, it has led me to question his motives. If the price of life is knowing that it is finite then it is surely not meant to be squandered. I often wonder what is the purpose of the journey that we are all embarked upon. There must be some be some point to it, some skill, some knowledge, some thing that needs to be acquired en route. We all share a common origin and destination - birth and death - yet it is the journey between these points that has the capacity for uniqueness and still most of
us conform to the nine-to-five hierarchical lifestyle. Some would argue that life is a trans-generational journey. The journey made by the individual being less important in itself that the knowledge and wisdom acquired and then passed onto the next generation and then the next and so on. Each generation learning from the previous but able to see the world about them with fresh eyes and renewed wonder. Which is fine if you can track this from afar and may even have a degree of validity, but it still leaves you wondering the purpose of the individual within this on-going evolutionary process.

Are we duty bound, slaves in effect to our gene pool and meant to tow the line. To work hard in order to accumulate financial wealth so that we can pass it on to the next generation in the hope that they will do the same until the line of ascent becomes solvent enough to dispense with this tedious necessity. All the while longing for fortune to bring in some ship not steered? Or can we travel a more pleasant but less profitable route? Taking the long-term view I can see that pursuing the traditional corporate route would benefit those that are to follow me, however I am also certain that this would prove to be a woefully dull life as far as I am concerned. Not having children of my own yet but recognising that at some stage I might, I find myself in somewhat of a quandary!

I find it extraordinary how accepting and forgiving we are of our fate and the system we are born into. We spend our early years getting an education, so that we can become valuable and productive members of society. If we do well at school we are invited to apply to go to university and plunge ourselves into debt in the process. We then use the knowledge gained to get a job so that we can repay our student loan. After a few years of working the next move is to get a house, which necessitates getting a mortgage and saddles us with another debt for the next 20 to 30 years and we think we're smarter than other animals!

To a degree we are of course superior to most animals in so much that we have ' domesticated' them to conform to our needs, but essentially we are no different. An ant colony has a ruler / queen, workers and soldiers much like our own society, they may even gain a degree of freedom via the tasks they fulfil, much as Dostoevsky theorised. - So where does that leave us? Perhaps true freedom would bring only chaos and it is only by imposing self-restriction that real freedom is actually gained.

So where does that leave my philosophy, pretty much in-line with everyone
else's I guess. Firstly to find a job I actually enjoy doing. Secondly to have children and therefore continue the journey and finally hope like bugger to win the lottery, so that I can do the things in life that working for a living prohibits either because I don't have the time or simply cannot
afford to pursue them.

© David Rutherford - Who is now alive and well and working in the city


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