12 August, 2008

Our time is short

Location: earth
Mood: disconnected

Our time here really is short. We can kid ourselves, but that's just what it is - denial. There's a beginning, and there's an end. And while most of us have little or no recollection of the beginning, and don't think much about the end early in life, eventually those thoughts have to become more and more prominent. We've created a make-believe afterlife to protect us from this thought. Everything that we experience in this world is absorbed through our "perceptions" and that is what makes the end so difficult to conceive. It's that we are trying to conceive an eventuality in which we will no longer perceive. And that's impossible to do.

There's a strange paradox as a result of our time being finite. On one hand, you could say that we should be very careful not to "waste" our time with empty experiences, or unhappy pursuits. But you could just as easily say "what difference does it make?". We aren't going to be graded, and we are not going to lay in stasis forevermore, lamenting the fact that we did not do more than we did. In terms of our own existence, it's not entirely clear to me if any of it even matters. Maybe at the microscopic level, you can see it. But if you keep pulling the camera back, farther and farther, eventually you only see tiny dots. And in that context, you cannot even tell if one dot is embracing another, or stabbing it multiple times and decapitating it on a Greyhound bus.

Though that does bring up an interesting point.

It almost seems like our well-being as individuals has far more impact on others around us than, arguably, it even has on our selves. If we meet an end, we are gone. But others live on, and must process that information and reformulate their worlds as a result. Of course, if you keep pulling the camera back, up and up, until we are nothing but tiny specs of dirt, then maybe once again it doesn't matter. But there is no grand observer who is sitting up there, and deeming all things to be okay. The world exists as a giant buzzing nest of individuals, all of whom are locking their cameras in a constant one-shot - a closeup of the day-to-day.

We create all types of psychological constructs to handle various cognitive dilemmas, and then we conveniently forget that they are simply man-made concepts - words on paper, or epic tales, designed to give us comfort. When we see a squirrel flattened on the pavement, most of us don't go through the elaborate chain of empathic thoughts... what about the squirrel's family? Is it really the end for the squirrel? What were the squirrel's thoughts in its last dying moment? Did the squirrel have any regrets? But while we may be capable as humans of experiencing some of these things in those fleeting moments before our own demise, the reality is that they are fleeting moments and then the light goes out, and they are gone. There's no permanent etching of the final thought that resonates in the fabric of the universe forever. It's the same as the squirrel, after the curtain falls.

As I said in the beginning, I am not sure if this is liberating, or if it suggests absolute helplessness.

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