They say that misery is like an old childhood friend that validates our suffering like a badge of achievement. To survive is to live, prevailing over the machinations of a world that refuses to cooperate. We seek out this misery as if it were a missing piece of our very definition, and if we can't find it within ourselves, we end up seeking it in others. And if we can't find it in others, we make up our own misery in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy... so that we may feel like a complete person content to embrace our woefully incomplete selves, misery and all.
There are those in power who understand this concept masterfully. They understand that you need something to believe in. They will give you something to be miserable about, and from that, they will provide a source of hope to believe in. You will be broken down and reformed to a citizen of their own creation... ready to fight and die for the values that they believe you should be fighting for.
We start out knowing nothing. Thrust into the fold whether we're ready or not, whether we choose to participate or not... we are in the game. We can refuse to believe in the game. We can choose not to participate, but then our world stagnates in a state of frustration as we become keenly aware of events taking place all around us but not with us. We can choose not to play, and we may find others who refuse to play as well... but it won't last... because patterns can't be avoided, and the game is a tapestry of patterns.
You start out knowing nothing, but eventually, you see the pattern. And as soon as a pattern becomes defined, then a metagame on top of the game becomes apparent. This is the set of rules that build on top of the established patterns in a context of continued discovery and progression. It is at this point that everything becomes an inside joke, and the language moves away from the mundane and becomes more abstract to outsiders. Entire monologues could be conveyed with a simple look. Conflicts can occur before they even start. The threat of permanence leads to a projection of the present into the one remaining unknown that is guaranteed to remain unknown... Amplifying the future and dampening the present.
The lesson I've learned from all this is that the direct path is never the successful path. When you yearn for something, it will elude you. When you embark on a seemingly random path, it will find you. It is the pattern that says that things must be attained through a sufficient ordeal in order to be considered a thing of value. The ordeal can be marked by either suffering or blind luck, but it must feel rare and special in order to be appreciated. Approach directly, and you will obviously be trying too hard. Approach from the side, and it will look like a chance occurrence. We give a piece of our lives to the things that we deem profound, and we demand a proportional ordeal in return for our precious mindshare. This is the nature of the metagame. Always bet on the lucky general.