Friday, October 16, 2009

"Now" is Happening Earlier Than We (Literally) Think

1. A moment occurs.

2. A fraction of a second later, we receive and compile our perceptions of the moment.

3. Another fraction of a second later, we name everything, drawing on our storehouse of previous impressions, ill-fitting though they may be.

4. Then we subconsciously assess what needs to change re: that thing that just happened (and is therefore inherently unchangeable).

5. Then we consciously brood, summoning up memories of similar moments so we can add this one to our ongoing internal narrative. This step absorbs some of us for minutes, hours, even days.

By this point, the moment is long past, and fresh reality is unfolding. But we live in a perpetual lag behind "now", tediously post-processing as we go.

A reed blown by the wind all day never complains about the agitation, because there's no post-processing. The reed doesn't recognize any separate thing called "wind", and so it doesn't gauge whether it wants more or less of it (as if there were a choice!). And the reed doesn't add the memory of each new gust to its baggage - its story of woe. The reed just experiences itself - insofar as a reed registers experiences - as endlessly dancing.

It's possible to work backward from the lag, back to the now. One trick is to literally "come back to your senses", which will pull you back from the naming, thinking, and judging to the point of raw perception (#2). In so doing, an exhilarated feeling of liberation (from the tedium of all that post-processing) will arise. And once you experience that feeling, you'll forever thirst to edge back further and further, to the fresh Now - the only reality.

No comments:

Blog Archive