Our examination begins with the story of the man who was born with a defective foot. On account of this malfunction, the man found it excruciatingly painful to move around.
When he was a child he hated that he was not able to run around like the other kids did. As an adult, he hated the looks of pity that the other adults threw upon him. Or the curiosity that he generated as perfect, little kids with their perfect little feet, pointed fingers at him wondering what was wrong with this guy. He absolutely hated to drag himself in and out of doorways all his life. And since it was his malfunctioning design that got him into all of these unwarranted situations in the first place, the man hated his design.
Thinking that the universe had conspired to fail him, the man hated the universe.
Now let’s take the case of a woman born with a defective neural wiring. This woman’s childhood was plagued by sudden bouts of epileptic seizures. She too, just like our guy out there was unable to run around like the other kids did, or learn as well as the other kids did. She too hated the looks of pity that was thrown in her direction even a week after her last seizure. She too grew up hating the fact that her peers had carved out perfect lives for themselves while she found herself caged at home, not wanting to tidy it up.
Our lady too, hated the universe for failing her.
Until, in a huff of boredom and frustration, she began to type out these words.
Welcome to the world of flawed designs
Mountains are all bumpy and humpy. They could have been smoother. The rivers are not flowing in straight lines. Those lizards could please do better than to not look so slimy all the time. And let us not forget the winds that can get all over the place, or the rains that fail to make it on time. How so imperfect is this supposedly perfect world of ours!
But then, what if the world happened to be perfect – perfect, smooth mountains; perfect, straight rivers; perfect, little lizards walking around on twos wearing crowns on their heads; perfectly flowing winds; and perfectly timed rains. So, how does this piece of perfection look? The imagination can be beautiful, and the yet, its reality can get quite…um…boring.
Ask a mountaineer if he would climb a mountain without its bumpties and humpities. He would look at you as if you were insane, for it’s the bumpties and humpties that make for the challenge of climbing. It is the curved, imperfect shape of the river that keeps it in a balanced flow. It is the sliminess of the lizard that helps it catch the slimier fly on the wall. If the winds didn’t get all over the place at times, the old trees wouldn’t fall and make place for new ones to grow. And it is the forgetful rains that cause us to take another look at how we are leading our lives.
The point is, the imperfections are out there for a reason.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a peek into the mind of the perfect gentleman with the perfect career, the perfect wife and kids, the perfect house and the perfect car. There is perfection in his mind. Everything is all smooth and flowy, and you know what happens when everything is smooth and flowing well – things can also get quite boring.
If there is one thing that the human brain does not like, it is boring
A smooth life is like Earth without her share of mountains, rivers, forests, and you and me. She will be a perfect, smooth sphere and also quite the boring planet indeed. Likewise, a smooth life can also turn out to be the most boring one.
Imagine a place where you and I, and everyone else looked the same. Or where everyone did the same thing. This place would transform into the most boring place in the shortest period of time. That is because our brain craves “different.” Like all the time.
You see, it is all the imperfections that give raise to different.
How different is different?
Do you know the one time when the brain lights up completely. As in completely? It is when the brain is listening to an interesting story.
I am surrounded by interesting stories. My father-in-law’s hallucinations, my husband’s stubborn mind-sets, my son’s inability to “get” math and science, my niece’s emotional break-downs, my brother’s social hesitancies – my brain lights up when I listen and decipher their “fall and raise” stories. And, guess what, it’s the flaw in the design that causes it all to happen!
Think of how much attention the brain would be paying to a life if it were all smooth and uninteresting. If the perfect gentleman’s life offered no interesting story to tell, then his brain would automatically begin its search for something new, something different, and then just about anything to get out of its boredom trap.
From here, the gentleman will start beginning to feel life as routine – dull, boring and uninteresting. This is the time where frustration beings to creep in and he begins to crave something different, automatically self-destructing his otherwise perfect life.
And that is how our perfect gentleman’s perfection becomes his design flaw.
On the other hand…
You, o one with the defective foot, and I, the one with the defective neural network – we already have a flawed design to work best with.
Growing up as a Hindu, if there is one thing that I learnt from the innumerable mythologies that sunk themselves into my system, it is that the boon is also always the bane, and that the Gods themselves are far from perfect.
Now, as I explore my design through introspection, I have come to realize the perennial existence of the opposites. If the boon can become the bane, as in the case of our perfect gentleman out there; then the bane too can become the boon.
After spending a childhood in the company of books, on account of my epilepsy, I have taught myself, unconsciously, to become a writer with a perspective shift. And this would not have happened without the flaw in my design. Despite my short energy reserves, a procrastinator attitude, sleeping problems, and numerous other fallacies because of that one flaw in the design, I am grateful. Because my fallacies become my mountains to cross and rives to wade across. I am thankful for the interesting story that my life has turned out to be.
So, dear you, if you think that your flaws are the universe failing you in this event called life, then you are as wrong as I was. Turns out the universe was not conspiring against us, after all. Through the flaw in its design, it was, in fact, conspiring to give us our best story – a tale to last a lifetime replete with its bumpy mountains and curved rivers.
And every time, we get up after falling down, the universe gives itself a high-five. For as much as we might believe otherwise, and just like how we have evolved from the great apes, we are also an evolution of the big-bang. Which is why, we implicitly carry a bit of the universe within us. And that is why and how we are the universe watching itself in action.
Here’s to accepting, and working with the flaws in our design! Here’s to transforming the bane into a boon!