I have been taking the test for some time now. I’m not sure how long or how much time is left. Some of the problems are easy. I breeze right through them. Others take what seems like forever to sort out.
There are others taking the test with me. It is encouraging that others took the test before us and managed to get through it.
I know there are some who cheat. That’s always a problem but there is little I can do about it. I’m not a snitch but I think it’s unfair for those like me who play by the rules.
I prepared for the test by working through many of the problems catalogued by those who took the test before me. I know that new problems will crop up. Not only must I learn the solutions to the old problems but I must also find a method to deal with new problems when they arise. That makes the test more difficult but also more interesting.
Those taking the test are a diverse group. Some, like myself, are diligent and serious. Others treat the whole thing like a joke. There are troublemakers who create disruptions. Some people’s tests get stolen and they are unable to finish. One must be on guard and cautious.
Sometimes I want to go back and alter some of my answers but this is against the rules. Once an answer has been chosen, it becomes irrevocable. I can add footnotes and explanatory material but to do so reduces the time to work on the remaining problems. I do it anyway when I feel I must.
Some find the test too difficult. They become discouraged. They leave their tests unfinished and disappear from the room. An aura of sadness follows in their wake.
Some plead for more time to finish the test. On occasion extra time is granted arbitrarily. Those who do not receive extra time may become jealous or disappointed or even angry but it’s just the way it is.
I admit there are moments when I grow tired or bored and do not put forth my best effort but I always try to do my best.
No one knows who grades the test or if it is graded at all. Most think it’s graded. They argue that if the test is not graded there is no reason to take it. I am not persuaded by that argument. I take the test out of curiosity and to learn from it. I take it because it is offered. I consider my chance to take the test a privilege and an obligation.
There are stories about those who finished the test. Some did well, some poorly. Such a history provides examples. The examples help me decide what to do on the test and what not to do. That’s another reason to take it—to help those who will take it in the future.
The how, where or when of the first test is unknown but it is known that the first test was very long ago. The test has changed over time, some say for the better, some say for the worse.
The purpose of the test is a mystery. Those who think the test will be graded believe that those who do well on the test will have easier tests forever and those who do poorly on the test will have painfully difficult tests forever. Some, like me, think there is only one test and when it’s over, that’s it.
It doesn’t bother me whether or not the test has a purpose. Of course I’d like to know if there was but I don’t. I can’t even know for sure if I’m taking the test. The whole thing could be a dream. I don’t think it’s a dream but it could be. I’ve decided to follow it through. If I’m dreaming maybe I’ll learn something or maybe I’ll wake up and learn something else.
It seems like the test has gone on for years but maybe it’s only been a few hours or a few minutes. Time is relative. That’s part of the circumstance of the test. I don’t remember when I started the test but I do have vague glimpses of what it was like then. I don’t know if I look any different but as far as I can tell I feel about the same. I could be wrong. Memory is known to be unreliable.
Speaking of which, I can’t remember what we were told about how we will know when we’re finished with the test. We may have a strong feeling that we are close to the end but how will we know when we are there? The questions just keep coming.
I have not, as yet, met anyone who has finished the test or had a chance to speak with those who quit early. It would be interesting to have their thoughts on the matter if they have any. Come to think of it, I have not met anyone who is not currently taking the test. I have stories, accounts, histories but no first hand knowledge.
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that what you’ve read here is an account of one part of the test I’m taking, one section so to speak. I’m moving on to another section now. Wish me luck.
The answer is 42
I’m no Douglas Adams but that sounds about right.
Oh yes, a repeated dream! The only relief is to awaken. And laugh in the morning.
Very fun and thought-provoking probing why we are here.
Reality is not what it seems to be, nor is it otherwise.
Tibetan Buddhist teaching