"I'm not high, officer, I just don't believe in time."
∆ Ocean Vuong ("Beautiful Short Loser", Time is a Mother, Penguin Press 2022)
It just hit me, we're communally living in a state of not knowing. At some point in our lives (usually in between childhood and puberty), we were all made aware of the fact that most of our questions will remain unanswered. We will never know what the purpose of navigating reality as a very complex algorithm is. We will never know what happened before the beginning of time, how big the universe really is, where we exactly came from, what is going to happen to us after we die. We will never in our lifetime get answers to the most important questions we can ask. And we all realized that at some point of our lives, maybe spent a couple of years wrapping our minds around that fact and then forgot it completely, to almost never think about it again. We decided to completely wipe this painful aspect of reality off, since it's unpractical, pointless and distracting. We're communally living in a state of not knowing and making peace with it.
Let's give this thought experiment a try together: let's stand still and try focusing our attention to all our surroundings simultaneously. Do not focus on your table, your plant, your poster on your wall specifically, but on all of them together. I know it's nearly impossible to achieve lantern consciousness voluntarily because the impression of each one of these objects is already imprinted in our circuits, which impedes them from becoming new and interesting. It might help to control our breathing first: let's take some deep, intentional breaths and try again. Now let's try looking at our surroundings at a different light - like we've never seen them before. We return our brain to the infant state, where everything around us was new and exciting. Everything around us set in motion a circle of questions, answers, more questions, and then finally awe and mystery. When we slowly feel ourselves drifting towards that stage of looking at things like they're new and exciting, let's start writing down everything that pops in our brain. Here's some of mine:
-Why does my plant grow? How long does it need to spread its roots in the soil and what pattern does it follow? I notice a thick, strong stem that gives birth to a bunch of smaller, weaker ones, that give birth to more smaller stems, finally ending into leaflets. I imagine the roots following a similar pattern inside the soil. It reminds me of the circle of Willis, which is the tree of arteries feeding the brain. You have the main arteries giving birth to smaller ones, finally ending in the tinies capillaries in the peripheral brain tissue. Is this pattern of the biggest and strongest giving birth to intermediate, small (and all sizes in between) and finally smallest, universal?
-I'm suddenly fascinated by the concept of my room. I realize my city is a collection of spaces contained between 4 walls, that separate and reunite people. I wonder what it would be like, if we all deserted walls and lived out in the open. But then I realize my room is a cell, that is part of my neighborhood (cell conglomerate), that is part of my city (tissue), that is part of my country (organ), that is part of my continent (organ system), that is part of the world (body), that is part of our solar system (group of people), that is part of...is this a pattern that repeats itself? Are divisions crucial to the creation of life?
I’ve been obsessing over the idea that we start life as a blank canvas, and gradually start training our brains to create these “algorithms” on how to comprehend the world around us and operate accordingly. The algorithms become more effective through experience, especially with repetitiveness. After these algorithms have perfect themselves and have run a certain number of times, they become shortcuts. When this happens, we get from point a to z directly, and skip all steps in between, which are now part of the shortcut. For this reason, we loose our sense of “newness” after we’ve been in a certain environment for too long, or done a certain job for too long, or spent time with a group of people for too long. We loose our innate excitement and curiosity for the world, because our brain is automatically skipping steps. This became clear to me when I was in vacation last week, and I suddenly
realized how new and exciting a new environment suddenly seemed to me, and how deeply invested I was and how hungry my brain felt to grasp every little detail of this newness. The city I live in might be just as exciting, but I’m stuck in this vicious cycle of repetitiveness, thus I can’t appreciate my environment the way I’d like to anymore.
My skin is just a cover, isolating my insides from the outside. Simultaneously, my insides (skin included) are continuously interacting with, engaging with, profiting from, contributing to the outside. Does this temporal and spatial isolation that the skin creates create a false idea of separation in my head? Imagine this: I see my body as a flow of interactions, as a portion of the whole. I see your body as an opportunity for interaction, as a receiver to my flow. I see the outside as a communal ego, thus deserting the idea that I am me and you are you and my desk is furniture.
What is a minute worth to you?
60 beats a minute
1,5 heartbeats per beat
An average minute tends to slip through your fingertips
Without you ever noticing.
What’s a minute worth to you?
A whirlwind of raw, unprocessed thoughts,
Viciously appearing, disappearing
And then reappearing, without you ever noticing.
Is it even a real metrics, the minute?
Or like almost everything, mere fiction
We came up with to distract ourselves
From the innate immeasurability of reality.
Does a minute suddenly gain momentum?
When you’re dancing to 140 beats per minute
Eyes closed, limbs swinging
As you defy the pendulum of nothingness?
Can a minute be suddenly relevant?
When you free your mind of unprocessed nothingness
Constantly distracting you, keeping you busy
From the wholeness of simply being?
Who is stealing your minutes away from you?
Is it the colorful advertisement on the billboards
That new “top 10” Netflix series
Or the constant vibrations on your pockets?
Why should you care about a minute?
Us human beings gave it meaning
By measuring time at 60 beats per minute
As time was there at the very beginning
Setting in motion the engineering of our existence
Her daughter, the minute, is just as relevant
For us to commonly let her slip through our fingers
We should start protecting our minute
Stop drowning her in unprocessed nothingness
Stop letting billboards and sitcoms steal her
We’ll start being aware of our minute.