Way back in December, I posted this crazy rambling rant exploring ways to cope with eternity even though our brains can never quite grasp it and even though random effects of eternity sometimes intrude into our daily lives and thoughts and dreams. Even as solstices themselves are made to look arbitrary in the face of the vastness of eternity, we’ll use this subsequent solstice as an excuse to revisit the topic and update our position accordingly.
Without you having to actually click that link above, let me try to give a brief and simple synopsis of the ideas I had outlined. Rereading it myself, I honestly wonder if I’m not now sufficiently sun-kissed and fresh aired out to explain it better than I did the first time. You see, it all starts with the fact that time is not actually linear or “sequential,” with things like before, during, and after. You can even argue that time isn’t real at all, that accurate truth is demonstrable using verb tenses – things have not happened, things are not happening, things are not going to happen; in reality, everything happens. We the living can’t experience our lives this way. We exist on a finite and temporal plane, and our brains are wired to eliminate the noise of eternity and all that crazy information so that we can do things like remember to eat and not die. We experience time only because it is convenient and necessary.
The real nature of things is like an old record, the kind that plays music. Some call them vinyl discs. Anyway, you put the record album, which is covered in little grooves, onto a table that spins it known as a “turntable.” A little needle is lowered down to ride atop the record. This needle reads the grooves and interprets the information as music, which is then amplified through a speaker. We experience the universe the same way the needle does, not just one song at a time, but one note at a time. It is as though all we experience in our lifetimes is represented by a certain segment of the grooves. When we think of something as happening “now,” we are talking about the place where the needle is. The “past” is the grooves on the record on the outside of the needle and the “future” is the grooves on the record on the inside of the needle. Mostly, the record player is designed to play the record continuously from outer grooves to inner grooves, but the needle can easily be moved in one direction or another. Taking that another step forward, the point is that while the position of the needle on the various grooves is always changing, while the notes and the songs we hear are constantly moving, the only thing that remains constant is the entire record. We are only hearing a portion of it, we pretty much can only hear a portion of it, but the whole thing is there. The whole thing is always there.
Now to throw a wrench in the whole thing – imagine the record we are listening to is not in our house, but in the studio of the radio station. At the radio station, they just play the eternal record without ever stopping, the needle of their record player continuing to ride the grooves and interpret the information as music, which is played over the airwaves. You and I are at home tuned into that frequency. In fact, we can’t control the position of the tuner on our radios. We can only hear this station – normally, anyway. The thing is, other stations exist…and sometimes the frequencies cross a little bit and we get a little blip of something we weren’t supposed to get. Perhaps it’s a song played out of order compared with what we’re used to. Perhaps it’s another language. Perhaps it’s a completely different style of music than we’ve been able to even imagine before.
Strange things out there, man. This is a little out there.
Sometimes, as I discussed in detail a few short months ago, I hear my own thoughts and realize that I am living my life as though people who are gone are present. I sometimes act and speak and think as though I am party to organizations and alliances which don’t even come close to existing in Reality. Sometimes, rarely, I even get glimpses of entirely different and transformative states of being, and realize that those things are going on at the same time as all of the regular things I perceive to be going on, even if it seems that’s impossible. And that’s true of the missing old comrades from the past. They’re gone from my life by all accepted criteria of judgment. Yet in other ways, they most assuredly are not. Just the fact that they live on so cogently in my mind represents not merely a “memory” or penchant for delusional nostalgia, but that there are representatives of these people and their traits and their broader meaning to my song and story that live on through me. We might call these representatives their ghosts, if we were so inclined, and though the existence of a ghost is by all measures different from the existence of the living, it is a form of continued existence nonetheless. Then, arching above it all, there’s the fact that there is no gone since the whole of the record is still here, including all of its grooves. None of it went anywhere.
It’s all happening.
So when I perceive imaginary organizations or alliances – some of them international! – bound by common interest and specifics of duty, it’s not just the construction of a neurotic mind, it’s the subterranean perception of grooves to the inside of the needle, or to parts of the song or different versions of it that I can’t normally hear. Therefore, given all of this, I am a contributing member of a broader clan of people, and my task is to be the steward of a banquet table. Here, those seeking shelter or merriment or companionship or collusion will immediately be brought inside and provided with the utmost hospitality. All those people who are here now and those I think used to be with me and those who might be with me in the future, again or for the first time, they’re all here now, coming and going, eating and drinking and yelling and talking and being and leaving and coming back again. Becoming aware of this somber responsibility (which one could describe as an accurate interpretation of the role of a Wizard) seems to speak for itself – I need long for nothing, want for nothing, be uncertain or alone for nothing. Instead, I need only tend to this table, keep the torches and ovens going, the wine cellar stocked, and the plates washed.
We knew all of this back in December, and it then that I declared that the table must be set. Six months later, can I say that the table is still there and that I’ve done my job in maintaining the table?
I’ll admit it’s not something I’ve really thought of all that much. Not on purpose, anyway. I still get the same flashes of time-independent memories that I know must mean something. Random people I think are with me still pop up from time to time, although they might be different people than I thought of six months ago, and I might not really see some of the people from six months ago as with me as much as I did then. That’s part of the transitory nature of all this – really, it’s like working with dream logic. Reflecting honestly, I cannot say for certain that anyone has requested or needed to come and sit at my table, or that any meals have been shared here by the kinsfolk of any clan. On the same token, I can’t say for certain that no one has eaten from the table, nor can I say that no kinsfolk have been by for any meals.
But I suppose those might not be the right approaches to this ad hoc self-evaluation. The real question, indeed, is whether or not I’ve kept the lights on in the hall, the table set, the hospitality and even full feasted banquet prepared to serve at a moment’s notice. Have I? What do these vague dream-notions require of me, anyway? I can say confidently that I have attempted to live each day, or at least nearly each day, in intentional accord with my own stated values and, I believe, that of my perceived kinsfolk. That’s a definite prerequisite. Imperfectly but steadfastly I present myself openly to others, should they need a chair or an ear or a drumstick. I do not receive many chances to explicitly provide comfort, but when the chance presents itself, I am prepared and able.
Independently, in some cases without the help even of those who could most conceivably be here and stand with me but are not and do not, I can stand firm and maintain the ship – yes indeed, I can at the very least keep the lights on. So there’s that, too. The calmness attained in part through knowledge of this schematic of eternity itself is what I draw upon to keep going unbowed by the ebbs and flows and storms of the daily and the mundane.
Staying honest, though, in the last six months, the bulk of my creativity, free time, and spiritual energy has been fully put towards my self-assigned responsibilities as a Wizard. I’m not a perfect mountain wizard, and I hope to ever improve with time, but my dedication and constancy have been there even if I’m not yet ready to grant myself the medal of excellence. That’s no accident. In fact, at this current phase – this one particular little groove on the record of all eternity – the primary way in which I know to set this table and prepare this feast is through my work as Wizard. In due course, it is plain already, this role will expand, affording greater opportunities and enabling physical realizations of some of these metaphysical or time-independent narratives.
What can I do in the next six months but continue on ahead as I am today, the best I know how. We’ll keep adding decorations to the hall, making improvements, lengthening the table, marinading the meat, aging the wine. It’s just one little groove on a whole big record. The melody will keep changing, but the whole record will always be there. My job, even if it makes little sense, is to manage a cloud kingdom that is consistent with the whole record while not being able ever to see the record itself. But in the final estimation, I like to think I can have some fun in this process, even if I am a tiny bit tapped in the head.
Experience and intuition tell me that few will read this post and even fewer will have any idea what I am talking about. If, however, you actually made it this far and maybe would like to know what I’m talking about, or find the version of what I’m talking about that might apply to you, there’s a few things you can do. While you’re awake, you could try practicing this meditation I threw out there a couple weeks back. The exercise is designed to place you in touch with the part of yourself that’s not bound to the physical and not dependent upon linear time – and it’s incredibly easy. While asleep, and when you first wake up, pay attention to what you’re dreaming. In all states, waking or sleeping, watching television or imitating quiet glowing enlightenment, pay attention to what you are thinking. If you find things in there that register as real or key underlying assumptions but don’t correspond with the “present” niche of time, don’t let them slip away. Figure out why they are there. And these are just a few different ways you can come to a higher notion of where you are located and what your life is actually made of.
Or, using a different but no less valid interpretation, you could at the very least engage in a creative process to construct for yourself a really fun and colorful personal mythos.
See, that’s the thing about eternity. In eternity, even fake things live.
Salaam. Happy Midsummer, joy and blessings be unto you.