This Time-Thought Exercise will tax my professorial cleverness to explain (and it would tax me to do, myself)!
It is to ask you to feel the existentialist feeling, and even using phrases such as “recognition of life’s absurdity,” or “recognition of the final lights-out, nothing more, of mortality,” or “you-are-you-in-your-own shell and cannot really relate to others (but have to!),” doesn’t quite go where I want you to go. And where I want you to go, isn’t earlier “be a hedonist or be a stoic” or more recently “life is traumatic, and I have some real serious traumas to deal with (i.e. Freud).” It isn’t be in the “zen” now versus contemplating longer arcs of time.
It is to feel the paradox of seeing your own life in time and then, now and again, of stepping out of yourself or your time-trajectory in a haunting way. So, with all this prefatory mumbling …. The options.
You get up in the morning, proceed on your morning routine, but at some point at some slightly tedious routine activity—for me, it is putting on my socks—you sort of pause. And rather than “being in your life and its time-stream” you invert the lens as it were. Rather than “looking” through the lens/normal telescope of your own life; you flip the telescope and see yourself from a far/diminished angle. Your life hasn’t changed, you are not depressed or anything like that, you are just “removed” from the scene for a few seconds. Maybe the feeling, briefly, is like you are “acting” your life and the “time” of your life? If this makes no sense what-so-ever to you, just move on to Option#2!
If you have seen the uber-marvelous “Interstellar” film—the hero, near the end, has jettisoned himself from his shuttle to enter the black-hole/grid out-of-time matrix. As the ensuing scenes play out, there is a happy sentimental conclusion: thru “love” he connects with his daughter, the time-looping stuff is resolved, and the film ends with him off on another adventure to meet his space-comrade otherwise by herself on the planet she had landed on. Happy day; happy time! But, before that (before he figures out the 5th-dimension time-grid), there is a bit of heavy-duty existential …. Hmmm… dread. What if he just ends up floating in space for eternity or stuck in the matrix-grid, forever, visiting moments of time past? That would be one gloomy ending! Try to explore the inbetween zone, feeling-wise, of neither the happy ending nor the very gloomy (not) ending: perhaps this is when he stoically shuttles off towards the black-hole/grid, solo. He suspends all our usual preoccupations with time, it would seem; destiny is, truly, a “black box.”! Ponder. If this makes no sense, move on to Option#3.
For music lovers who know Shostakovitch or Phillip Glass or kindred … that is, “classical” musicians who break-away from traditional melody (which is based on time-development, a certain “lyrical” arc-in-time). Why is the discord or repetition appealing to you? My wife just finds Shostakovitch “screechy” and nerve-wracking; she finds Phillip Glass ok but rather boring. For me, I can listened to either over and over again and find profoundly beautiful… the interrupted lyricism just “speaks” to me.
This is a little like the previous optional Time-Thought Exercise #5. You’re driving home after school/work. You are at a stop light. You, for maybe 2 seconds, see the driver in the car adjacent to you. You don’t necessarily make eye-contact: you just register that there is another person likely driving home after school or work. Do you, however, briefly imagine that they have their own life-trajectory; that they are just-like-you-with all your desires, anticipations, needs, regrets and so on “in time”? And then, whatever momentary empathy or curiosity you extend, the light changes, and you drive home (to your own unique destiny). Is it “weird” to have these brief moments of recognizing the other person is in-time just as you are? Google the word “sonder” (rather neat that we actually have a word that nails this feeling/experience of others-in-time!).
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