It is night and things are slowed down as I see them. I know only that much. But for all I know, whatever I am seeing may be a world where there is perpetual night. Maybe this world is so far from its sun that the only light I see is a faintly glowing moon, faintly glowing, but with enough light to lighten the beautiful things I see around me. There are strange vibrations that kindly strike the ears, subtle though they are. The sounds are curious and troubling. For only small portions of a split second do they stop and begin again, but it's like they never stopped at all.
What I am seeing troubles me, makes my heart race. It is a vast world, a night sky, huge and sufficiently decorated by stars I know not. I can see them all because there are no city lights. There is a large, bright purple object in the sky of some life-form, a large and powerful carbon being.
It has four legs and two pointed formations on its head. Underneath it is a waterfall, a small but beautiful waterfall, glowing with a crystal sparkling. Across and around it are trees reaching out to the light. They blanket the ground. They run into the distance together. There are so many of them. The trickling of water can be heard only when I approach. Apparently, I can approach it, although I never feel myself moving.
I look up again at that most impressive sight, the purple life-form suspended in the sky. Maybe it is coming toward me. It is running. Maybe it can kill me, but it doesn't seem interested. It is too big. Now I recognize it. It is a bull, a powerful brahma bull, with pointed horns and starry eyes, the horns scooping downward as in a lunge to attack. The stars glisten against his backside. He is so brilliantly colorful with the shades of twilight. I want to cry because I see it as for the first time. I feel like I've never seen it before. My eyes are beholding something new, perhaps like a meeting of gods, not meant to be looked upon by mortal man.
I want to cry, but just for a moment. Only now do I know that this life-form is a bull. The sounds I am hearing are the songs of bugs, but I didn't know that until now. It is as though I am seeing a portrait of earth life from the perspective of an alien and I realize that nowhere else in the universe can these creatures be found. They would frighten an alien as they do me in this brief but moving altered state.
I pull back and it's just me again - not drunk or high - just tired and staring at a discount picture in a thrift store. The painting is of a bull above a valley at night while I hear that far too-often replayed song by Taylor Swift, “A Love Story.” I can never hear that song again without thinking of this touching moment. The power this moment had! It was like none other in my day, like a dream that awakens you and you cry because of the unmet curiosity left behind to see and understand more.
The parietal lobe is that section of the brain that is responsible for recognizing and comprehending visual objects. When it is damaged, everything you see can appear as though it is being seen for the first time. For whatever mental hiccup caused this moment, I am thankful. I really saw it—I saw Earth as an alien would comprehend it, totally strange and completely compelling. And I then dropped back to my familiar world, with familiar beings and ordinary happenings. Everything is so boring now, so tastelessly commonplace to the eyes and mind. Even the bizarreness and freakishness of being human as shown on the creepiest internet news stories are only a momentary relief that fights off a disgruntling cynicism. My moment didn't last for long, but it didn't have to. I learned from the experience.
The quest to understand this world is extremely cruel and deceiving. Better off would we be to stay in ignorance, and yet that doesn't stop us from searching it out. The wisest men know it, and they continue searching. Once we become familiar with it all, we will have to be called aliens ourselves since by that time we will no longer still be what we know today as “human.” But when that long-off day does come, I can only see the dimmest of prospects for those living (if “living” is still an applicable term).
Mystery keeps many of us going. Such devotees are usually pseudo-scientists or religious people, cult leaders and pious liars, as well as the delusional. They rely on mystery to give their current lives meaning. They trust something better to be an inevitable thing to come. It's not that the mystery-eaters never give up hope. It's that our knowledge of the world is so ridiculously little and science so pitifully young - with so much still unknown – that mystery-lovers are kids in a candy shop to pick and choose any belief that instills hope. If hope is there for the taking, why not take it?
Brian Greene fans and Heisenberg Principle admirers think that because a concept has been discovered that they call an “Uncertainty Principle,” then this means that they understand the world in a notable way—sometimes to justify their mockery of the ignorance of previous generations. But not just the snotty modern religionists are guilty of this. It's way too easy to think that we are an evolved, wonderful, learned culture while those generations behind us were only barbarians worthy of scorn.
To live in a world of idiots is so discouraging and frustrating for the smart ones. It is like going back in time and having the unenviable task of being Socrates and having to convince your jurors not to make you drink hemlock for the crime of blasphemy to the gods. It is like being a woman and having to convince a Salem judge that you aren't a witch.
The skeptics are the antithesis of the above. They are those who live life with the perceived clarity of mind to reduce all things they learn and observe to things most familiar—we all do it to some extent. To some of them, every conspiracy called out is automatically overblown, every one who purports to have new information or who makes a breakthrough of some kind is ignored or belittled if it conflicts with traditional ways and ideas. Others are just too burnt out to care. There is no time to study it and no more energy for continued investigation. Some of us really don't care anymore.
Both extremes are foolish because time and knowledge can never be against us simultaneously. True knowledge will get the attention of the world whether it is respected or not. The old are going to die with the antiquated ideals that sometimes reek of mothballs as badly as they do. The young will be made fun of and proven wrong, but some will stand to be triumphant in demonstration. Knowledge will march in. It will create wars and whatever turmoil must follow for the era, and then the new order or accepted truth will be the influencing factor that fashions the next generation of future bigots.
Getting back to my story of having a glimpse whereby I see the world as if for the first time, I learned something; I learned that the only way to live joyously is to live in the perspective of newness. Newness is a feeling because nothing is really new, just re-made and re-applied from everything around us. Newness is a new experience or a part of one. As a person who loves and craves familiar surroundings, my mind finds this hard to accept and fights it, but the more I entertain the idea, the more fascinated I become.
If you will think back, many memories of joy you had were once awkward, unwanted moments. Moving to a new neighborhood, driving a new route to work from the new area of town, taking a new job...they don't feel right at first, but you look back on those events and some become the new good memories to look back upon. Half of the songs I now love from the 80s I hated when they first came out while everybody else loved them. Lots of people can live in the moment and be happy, but that's all they can do. Some are just cattle who merely live and die, giving very little thought to anything that is above instinctive.
But for a few of us, living in the moment isn't (or wasn't) so easy. We will always be behind everyone else. We may, in fact, never catch up. If we do, things still won't be right. Life is too much of a poem written by an ogre on a rock in a state of psychosis. So, wisdom tells me to love change, to count on the discomfort of adaptation. All I have to do is except the outcome and the fear goes away. Only by making new experiences can happiness continue, however little or much there is to be had.
I have learned with great angst to want everything now to be a new beginning. I don't regret my first marriage. I just learned from it and it makes me who I am today. I will call my ex-wife a materialistic, bigoted bitch, but she played a part in the “me” of today. My girlfriend of today will be a sensational part of the tale I have to tell years from now. She will build me the same way. We each have the opportunity to be teachers of everyone around us. You can alter the course of someone's life. You are building the “them” of tomorrow. Isn't that fascinating? When was the last time you thought about that?
Every detail of my life will be a part – or all – of the next chapter in my life and it's re-telling, as will the tin foil I use for curtains that keep out the cursed light from my low-end apartment or the empty cardboard boxes I use as end tables beside my bed.
I have decided I want to feel the sensation of something new. I want a rush. I want to feel a new application being made. That gives me a thrill. It takes all those same mental components utilized to build blocks as a child or slide down a slide in the backyard without falling backwards and it brings a new satisfaction. It speaks to me, just as playing with the bunnies in the backyard used to. But everything we do in life with regard to discovery and invention is done to better ourselves. That's what we have learned and that's what we teach. For what, I ask you?
Bettering ourselves should be a side-affect of building a new experience. Building a new experience...that is spiritual, one that is weighed on the emotional scale and found valuable. Two examples of our building these experiences are called art and music – two priceless things consisting not of symmetry or of algorithmic genius, but of original creation - the closest thing to pure magic. These great things can never be “false,” and the word “true” does not apply to them. The god of Moses supposedly said of his creation when finished that it was: “very good.” That description is the only quality that can be said to describe an inventor's creation when brought into existence. That description is steadfast and forever immutable, and it is accurate. It describes value that transcends criticism, just as it does practical or monetary values.
Storytelling is a third example of experience-building. The tribal chieftain warrior and his clan honor the old legends as passed down to them, while the child's eyes, as he hears the tales for the first time, widen in fascination and awe. Lives will be built. Making new experiences is the continuity of life.
All of my failures that I live down lead the way to my successes. With every failure comes a greater chance for the next success, which will create a new image, a new vision, a new experience, a new invention, or a new story to tell and to learn from. We invented the gods because we are inventors. If an omni-max deity existed, he wouldn't need to create. That realization is the most powerful disproof of God there ever was. We do need to create because to invent and create is to live with some sense of meaning.
Why are some of the best days of my life when I and my cousins would sit in my uncle's backyard and play in the mud for hours with the sprinkler on and make rivers, filtered by the lids of empty Comet containers used as drains and dams? We weren't in charge of our lives. We were given administrative correction from our superiors. That wasn’t fun. We were picked on in school. We had fewer freedoms than we do now. But we were seekers of new experiences, on which all later experiences came to be based. We had not yet been destroyed by the shaping forces of age that have us on this sick quest to better ourselves for the sake of society or some unknown and yet hopelessly disputed end. Life was about then. There were no major distractions.
We know that together with science, reason and logic and the faculties of a healthy mind are as close to the perfect tools for living as existence will have. But their value can only be appreciated with a story, a concept, a beneficial exchange of some kind, with the magic of a new experience. Though in some ways necessary, ideologies and dogmas are not the answer. Those are the evils of indoctrination, a type of “pyramid scheme.” The messages of these scheming collectives are the products of progressive knowledge, which happens to be little better and no more virtuous than some fictitious and defunct prince of Nigeria created in a spam mail to scam some poor, gullible, sucker internet-user out of his hard-earned cash.
With a fresh experience, I can love my exact place in the time continuum at nearly any point I find myself. Call it “Hyper-hedonism,” if you like, or call it “Supra-contentment.” My mind allowing me to view that familiar bull as an alien made me the discoverer of something new. It didn't matter that it was already discovered. It was like moving back the DVD player to the most suspenseful cliffhanger moment in the movie you regard as your favorite. You watch it and re-watch it to relive the experience. In time and with repetition, it loses its impact, but the experience is watched again with the goal of garnering more stimulation. In a similar way, we can live in the moment and make a new experience from all the old things that are around us, or at least we can learn to.
I’m not looking for Jesus to come back to Earth even if he wants to for the purpose of proving to me that he exists. There’s been time for that, and by now, he has too much to answer for. And I'm not looking for the human race to progress to the level of beings that live in a scientific utopia as they fly across the galaxy, colonizing planets in the name of science and still greater discoveries, to fulfill that stupidly gullible liberal idea of pluralistic equality. The first steps of both marches are in wrong and misguided directions.
On the way to dying, I want to do two things. I want to tell a story. I also want to get drunk. I want to describe what I am seeing and have seen. I want to sit you around my campfire and let you see what I see and feel what I feel. I want you to share in my experiences. I want to pat you on the back and share with you my humanity to the extent that it relieves your pain and adds something positive to your life. I want you to be confounded by the same ecstatic delight that made me speechless so that it will meld into your own sublime experience—be it the details of an old schoolmate and what he meant to me, or a vision of a bull atop crystal waters.