Infinite play is inherently paradoxical, just as finite play is inherently contradictory. Because it is the purpose of infinite players to continue the play, they do not play for themselves. The contradiction of finite play is that the players desire to bring play to an end for themselves. The paradox of infinite play is that the players desire to continue the play in others. The paradox is precisely that they play only when others go on with the game. Infinite players play best when they become least necessary to the continuation of play. It is for this reason they play as mortals. The joyfulness of infinite play, its laughter, lies in learning to start something we cannot finish.
― James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games



To the rational, the question “how?” is death.

It is death by a thousand hypotheses, and ten thousand counter-factuals.

“How?” is the most insidious question ever asked, designed to vex, baffle, confound, and arrest anyone not yet drowning in a cesspool of cynicism.

“How?” is the cynic’s venom, sunk in with the fangs of a grimace, a shake of the head, a sour face of disapprobation.

“Convince me.” 

“Show me.” 

“Where’s the evidence?”

“Why isn’t this already being done?”“Where has this already succeeded before?”

“Why are you the right person to be doing this?"

The soulless snake strikes, and strikes again — anything to keep you from doing what you know in your heart you must do.

But you accept the snake. You take him at the face value of his premises. You take his questions in good faith.

Because you don’t want to start.

You’re afraid of starting. You’re afraid of how long it will take. You’re afraid of the uncertainty of success. You’re afraid that the moment you start, everything will already look to the outside world like a failure and a joke (because it will).

The snake just reminds you of all the reasons you’re afraid. The snake doesn’t ask you anything you haven’t already asked yourself, in the end.

Maybe the snake lives only in your head. Or maybe the snake you meet out in the world embodies the snake living in your head.

It doesn’t matter, either way. He’s already won.

There you are, staring into the abyss of the world, paralyzed in the face of all that darkness.

You hate that darkness. You rage against the darkness in our head. You might even rage against the darkness with others, out loud.

Yet the darkness persists.

You scream at it louder.

It doesn’t move. It doesn’t answer, either. It doesn’t defend itself. It just laughs back at you.

It seems to like your screaming. It seems to be licking up every drop of rage sweating out of you. There it is, smirking, cackling, thriving on your miserable paralysis.

For the darkness, your anger is sport and fun.

But there you go, playing right into it. Sitting there. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

Thinking you can think your way out of your starting position.

Thinking you can think your way into a better strategy, and thus better odds of success.

Thinking you can avoid the messy, the sticky, the confusion. Thinking there’s a way out of awkwardly explaining yourself, having to disappoint everyone’s bizarre expectations of you.

Thinking there’s a way to preserve your ‘dignity,’ whatever that is. Thinking there’s a way that people will just show up, give you what you need, and you can avoid the hard sell thinking you can avoid begging.

“Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles,” Emerson says.

What is triumping right now? Not my principles. Are they yours?

That peace you’re looking for, the peace you’re calling out for, hoping it will find you if you shout loudly enough — it’s escaping, fleeing your screams. Leaving you alone with the darkness.

Thinking won’t help you. Strategy won’t help you. Theory won’t help you. Philosophy won’t help you. The news won’t help you. Social media won’t help you.

Only starting will help you.

Only being willing to start something you know you won’t be able to finish will help you.

Only the actual doing of the starting will help you — and anyone else you hope to help.

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