“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience.
We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
– Alan Watts
Late for what? We’re all mad here.
“Wow, what’s in your head /
You’re the silent eyes, feel /
Wow, what’s in your head /
You’re the silent head“
It’s not that time causes me great anxiety, or that I continually find myself living in the past, or always projecting the future…it’s just one of those giant abstractions that, much like the universe, is too big for the brain to fully comprehend yet is so much fun to turn over in the mind. How do you waste something that doesn’t even exist? I wish I had taken a few more philosophy classes while I still had the resources at my fingertips in college.
Relative to what is typically perceived as a “regular” daily routine, my Circadian rhythm has pretty much been obliterated by working through several night shifts the past week or two. When 4 and 5 a.m. become the average bedtime and “morning” is around 3 or 4 p.m., the concept of “time” loses a lot of its established meaning.
I agree with Watts on this, though: we are sleepwalking through life in a fantastical world of ideas and concepts that in extreme cases will consume us entirely. I may not worry about my future, but it is untrue that I do no project favorable versions of what I hope it to be. There is a definite difference between “aspirations” and “fantasies,” and recently I’ve been making more of an effort to distinguish & compartmentalize the two. Keeping it unreal. It’s important to do that. Am I chasing some fevered dream in my mind…but running in place in reality?
Not “giving up”; just staying grounded. Acknowledge all the variables, but check emotion at the door. Dream big in order to live big, but take baby steps to get there. Abusing alcohol created a paradoxical vacuum that dragged me further and further down the harder I tried to fight it: I achieved the goal of numbing/blunting the unbearably painful depression and existential bewilderment seeping through the fibers of my being…but at the end of the day I was too wrapped in the haze to peel the layers back and dig down to the root causes. You can cut your split ends, but you can’t cut your roots. Sobering up was like being slapped awake and then doused with a bucket of cold water (in fact there were times when it literally was that). I feel like I’ve grown as a person so much this past year. There is still growing yet to be done, though. And growth does require a modicum of sleep, somewhere along the line. Play me out, Sam Jackson!