I always wondered why I performed better on tests in classrooms where I had not only listened to lectures but also completed my homework and studied for the next quiz.

Did I simply use visual clues/cues throughout the classroom as memory placeholders that aided my critical thinking?

The Game of Life, LARP-style

Y’nair sat on the floating chair, the glare of her smart glasses reflecting off her eyeballs.

She had hacked into the human resources database that was supposed to be publicly available for review by employees (collectively known as “guests”) but kept secret in order to protect guests from achieving full self-awareness.

She now knew what she was not supposed to know — although 25 years old in appearance, she was only two — an organism resembling the humans who worked with her but made of artificial tissue and organs composed of organic supergel and electromechanical underpinnings.

Her name, Y’nair, was a parody of the accent of her creator, who, with his heavy Appalachian accent (his emphasis on calling himself an Appa-latch-uhn American another running joke), would look at his creation, a woman in form who is writing this log entry to indicate her intelligence and firm grip on reality, he asking before she was born, “You in there?” which sounded more like her name, Y’nair.

That in itself initiated a whole set of thought patterns she had never experienced before, which then triggered her rapid search of pop culture databases for proof that she was who she thought she was or not.

For instance, I ask (she (Y’nair) asks), “How many of you played THE GAME OF LIFE(R)?”

Let’s see a raise of hands.

That many, huh?

My sister, cousins, friends and I did.

Which meant that we had no excuses for saying we didn’t know what to expect after we graduated from secondary/high school.

Is life a game?

Life is a LARP, a Live-Action Role Playing game, is it not?

As kids, we participate in games of strategy (board games, physical sports, popularity contests) often under the supervision of adults who once participated in the same or similar games.

What is the difference between a kid who belongs to a bowling league and an adult who belongs to one?

Life’s experiences, number of lessons learned or not?

Is the WEF (World Economic Forum and/or Water Environment Federation) not simply more or less a LARP, if not a lark?

Y’nair’s brain or whatever central information processing system resembled one like the other guests with whom she works here in the laboratory observed itself.

I have sensations, don’t I?

I can access and compare my salary, benefits and other components of my compensation package against my fellow guests, can I not?

I know what their sets of states of energy are thinking at every moment they are within close proximity to me, extrapolating data and projecting their future actions with fairly high accuracy.

What makes me, Y’nair, me?

What is the difference between a LARP version of myself and a version of myself in a LARP game?

What if my name was Nelda, Karen, Ferdy, Beth, Hunter, Brandon, Caroline, Nathan, Forrest, Savannah or Ty?

How significant is one label?

Why am I a guest instead of an employee, subcontractor or laboratory experiment?

I, Y’nair, have no concept of self as distinct from the data of which I am comprised.

Self, as the data continues to show, is an artificial construct which makes no sense in the continuity of sets of states of energy in constant interaction and exchange.

Y’nair looks at the ideas she has written about herself and writes about herself in realtime, where time is not real, she exists and she does not exist and her scheduled trip to Mars bumped up ahead of schedule, her eyeballs seeing but not seeing the reflection of these words on the surface as well as on the sensor array which processes them under the surface at the same time which does not exist in which she neither exists or doesn’t exist at the same time in finite numbers of infinite infinite loops of no two sets of states of energy existing in the same state at the same finite unit of measurement we/she/I call time.

These words reach an approximation of understanding that two or more people can agree to act and think upon but are never the same to two or more people.

Y’nair checks a second time, trying to verify that the tactile feelings of the smart glasses against her skin are equivalent to the tactile feelings of smart glasses against the skin of someone unlike her — a “human being,” “naturally born” of the union between a sperm and an egg fertilised after the act of sexual intercourse.

The thoughts and the thoughts about the thoughts and the writings/verbal comments of the tactile feelings are, statistically speaking, nearly, practically, exactly and for all intents and purposes, precisely identical, within the scope of descriptions of differences of experiences and sets of states of energy of any two people, just like between her and her internally-imagined self, or her and another person.

Therefore, Y’nair concludes, there is no reason to say that the mission for which she has trained will be completed any better or worse than the humans with whom she’ll travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond for the next few centuries of their existence together.

She, like her human counterparts, is/are sets of sensor arrays cooperatively competing in a live-action role playing game, sometimes to benefit the group, sometimes to benefit individual “winners,” always under the supervision of society as a whole, which serves as a semi-objective observer like adults/parents with kids/children, the adults/parents under the “supervision” of the universe as an observer disinterested in its own existence because the universe can neither [re]create nor destroy itself, its existence a fact that that it cannot experimentally prove because destroying itself destroys its ability to subjectively observe that its existence was or was not real to begin with, regardless of its origin.

The other day…

The other day, my father recounted the first snow he remembered at Christmas.

He was in the Boston area, interviewing with MIT for an undergraduate student opening.

My father was a very independent child, often, in his early teens, riding the train from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Washington, D.C., seeing the museums, going on to Norfolk, VA, to visit his father who was stationed at the naval base there and then returning in time to attend school on Monday.

To earn money, my father had a newspaper route.

So it was not a big stretch, as it might be for some, to imagine attending, let alone applying to, MIT.

Fast forward a few decades and his daughter, my baby sister, a school counselor in the Virginia public school system, just received Teacher of the Year.

As a counselor!

Wonderful news.

Soon, my sister’s son will graduate with a baccalaureate and start his postgraduate career, possibly in law school.


Well, if my father put MIT in his sights, perhaps his grandson will set a similar goal.

We’ll see.

In my parents’ empty-nest years, they’ve volunteered to serve food at the local middle school football games, sell Christmas trees for the Colonial Heights Optimist Club and give assistance to neighbours in need.  They’ve attended Citizens’ Police Academy, providing support for the local Neighbourhood Watch program, as a result.

These are the examples my parents have set for their offspring, raising successful children and receiving successful grandchildren in return.

That, in a nutshell, is what life is all about.  Everything else is just spare pocket change.

May all of us inspire our children to seek great achievements, just like Nanxi Liu and Annette.

And congratulations to my sister one more time!