I came across this expanded, generalised version of the laws of thermodynamics in Venkatesh Rao’s Tempo. I’m going to frame and hang them on my wall. When I feel overwhelmed and exhausted, I’ll turn to them and find solace.
“0. You must play the game.
1. You cannot win.
2. You cannot break even.
3. You cannot quit the game.
4. The game keeps getting more complicated, and there are always more ways to play.
When we have no choice but to play, we summon energy we didn’t know we had. We find routes forward that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. It puts us on death ground, where there is no other option except forward. And perhaps most importantly, being in such a situation makes us turn to our companions. To the people that walk beside us. They too have no choice. They, with us, must come to accept the reality of the situation.
All of us have to play this great game. We may as well play to the best of our ability.