An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 17, 2017
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

CHILDREN ON A SPACESHIP

Until that very moment in the child's life, it had never occurred to him that he possessed his own identity, and that time was passing. It's said that neurons in a child's brain form and interconnect at an astonishing rate, and that at certain stages of neural development connectivity reaches thresholds at which, instantly, great leaps of insight and higher consciousness flash into being. This was one of those moments.

Looking around, for the first time the child wondered why he was on an enormous spaceship with lots of other people. Why through the spaceship's portholes could stars be seen passing by, and where was the spaceship going? And, why were all the grownups aboard so endlessly and obsessively playing Monopoly, and -- of all the games that exist -- why had he been taught to play that one as soon as he could throw dice, count numbers and read the cards?

Most grownups around him were so engrossed in their playing that they didn't take time to answer the child's questions. However, a few people seemed quite certain that the Great Wahoo had made it all, that He watched over every game. And when a game player at last was decommissioned, if the Great Wahoo judged that he or she always had played according to the rules, that person's "soul" would be sent by shuttle to a certain beautiful planet. On that wonderful planet, people always felt good and happy, but if you'd ever cheated, your soul would end up someplace else where everything hurt and made you sad.

Other people said that that was correct, but that the Great Wahoo had a different name, and that the game's rules he'd dictated were different, so everyone on the ship playing by those other rules was cheating and therefore their souls were doomed to shuttle to the place of pain and sadness. In yet other parts of the ship, people said other things, and in some parts they didn't say anything about the matter at all.

When the child became a young man he worried about his intense need to know why he was on a spaceship, where the spaceship was going, and why everyone played Monopoly all the time. He was so out of step with everyone else that he thought that maybe he was crazy or too dumb to grasp what everyone else knew but wouldn't say.

One day the young man caused a big stir among family and friends by refusing to play Monopoly anymore. He simply walked away from the board and began looking more closely at the spaceship's features, gazing through the portholes, always searching for clues that might answer his questions.

For years he wandered from one end of the spaceship to the other. He saw that the spaceship was exquisitely engineered, but that people were messing it up. They did such things as hide fake Monopoly money in ventilation shafts, disrupting the ship's airflow. They overheated the computers with endless calculations about whether, for instance, it was better to buy three new houses for Baltic Avenue or a new hotel for Park Place. Worse yet, believers in different versions of the Great Wahoo made war on one another, and disrupted the oxygenation and recycling systems with seepages from putrefying unbeliever bodies, and toxic chemical weapons.

When the young man became an old man, he was lucky to find a forgotten storeroom in a distant part of the spaceship deemed unimportant by the Monopoly players. The storeroom had a computer enabling the old man to view, savor and continue wondering about the spaceship's intricate building design, and there was a porthole through which the even more majestic and mysterious passing-by Universe could be glimpsed.

And then, eventually, the circle completed itself