Finding your lost coat, finding a better life

Here’s a thought experiment for you: suppose you gave your coat to the man working at coat check and the man gave you a ticket. Upon returning from the performance, you go to hand the worker your ticket, only to realize that it is nowhere to be found. The man asks you to describe the coat. It is long and black, you say. He looks around at all the long and black coats hanging up. What kind of fabric? You tell him. What designer? You tell him. Size? You tell him. Still no such luck. You begin pointing him in the general direction where you believe he may have hung it. He looks.

Finally, he pulls out this one. Is it this one? No, it’s got a tear in the lining. How about this one? No, it’s a darker black and cleaner.

A few more minutes pass. Could it be this one? Yes, that’s it. Relieved, you thank him, put on the coat, and walk out of the theater.

*

The reason you were  able to find your coat is that you gave the man the right specifications and these specifications fit the coat he showed you. But how did you know that the specifications were the right ones for this coat? Because this coat matched the one from your memory.

Suppose, however, you were to set specifications for an inquiry into the kind of life you have never lived and hence could have no memory of. You wouldn’t be able to say, when landing upon ‘this one,’ that it was the right fit based on memory, since you would not have lived this kind of life already. You would be looking for a new form of life that would also happen to be the most excellent one. Perhaps–let’s venture a guess–you would know it when you saw it because not only would this form of life be good and beautiful (where others had been neither the first nor the second) but the experience would be rather like coming into yourself. Let’s dare to go and look.

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