A philosopher has a dream. In the dream she’s lying on her back beside a precarious tower. From her vantage point, it’s like she’s inside the Eiffel Tower looking up. The top looks far, far away.
Without a sound and ever so slowly – like a cargo ship setting out to sea – starting at the top, the tower begins to fall in slow motion straight down upon the dreamer.
With terror and disbelief she thinks, “That’s it. I’m dead.”
Within a minute she will be killed. The screaming words of AC/DC come to mind, “I’m back in black. I hit the sack. I’ve been too long. I’m glad to be back” (Back In Black, 1980) or as another poet put it:
This is the end, my only friend, the end.
Of our elaborate plans, the end.
Of everything that stands, the end.
No safety or surprise, the end (The Doors, “This Is the End,” 1967).
In death there is no pain, only regret.
It’s like the final scene in the the TV series The Sopranos. The family is in a diner talking and eating onion rings as “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey is playin’ on the jukebox. Just as Steve Perry sings, “Don’t stop!” BINK – it cuts to black silence and remains black silence for longer than is comfortable. Ten seconds elapse before credits roll.
The silent black nothingness surprises us. We want to go back, but can’t. It’s the silent slam of a door.
Some will win. Some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues.
Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on, and on, and on…
(Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin‘”, 1981).
AJ says, “Focus on the good times.” “Don’t be sarcastic,” says his father. “Isn’t that what you said one time? Try to remember the times that were good?” “I did?” says Tony with pause. “Yeah? Well, it’s true, I guess.”
And so it is that we too focus on good times and let bad times roll off like duck water. It is now the dreamer who is included as one of “those people who died, died” like in the song by Jim Carroll.
And then… the dream ends. She wakes up. She sees her bed, a cat in the window and hears crows singing brightly, “Caa! Caa! Caa!” There is no tower. There never was. Dreamers see worlds behind closed eyes.
“Is that what it feels like to die?” she wonders, looking around at what was old made new.
“Is it, BINK – cut to black silence, roll credits? What if death is like being born? How would you know? Do you remember being born? Do you know when you became aware of yourself as you?”
Is it not the case that as far back as you can remember, you’ve been you? Are you not the only you you’ve ever known? It’s always been you. It’s always been now.
And so it has been for anyone ever. All we know is now! Here you are then something happens – a tower falls, a bit of cancer: Cut to black silence. You’re gone then BINK! back from a dream beginning anew.
That could explain why squirrels and birds look so surprised.
Time feels permanent while you’re in it, but it isn’t. The year could be 1822, 1922 or 2022 – doesn’t matter – you roll in the time you’re in.
Flash – you’re at work. Splash – you’re eating dinner. Zip it’s tomorrow, all the while, without interruption, you’ve been yourself to you alone.
What if we each become aware of our self as we go along living from the beginning but the you-ness in each of us feels (and is) the same! Why not? Maybe ‘you’ is a relative term?
After all, we’re all ‘you’ to each other and ‘I’ to ourselves. Every night you close your eyes to disappear and every morning you open them to be yourself again and so does everyone all the time.
A woman says, “I’m Mavis. I live in Moose Jaw. I’m middle-aged, overweight and I work at Tim Hortons.”
Mavis has an idea of herself that others have come to share, but no one but Mavis knows what it’s like to be Mavis from birth to demise.
When Mavis is gone, only the idea of her will remain.
A man says, “I’m Archie from Arizona. I teach high school and play video games.” Archie has been acculturated. He knows who he is and goes around proving it. He judges others using himself as exemplar.
Charles Dickens wrote, “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other” (A Tale of Two Cities).
What is that secret? Can you see it? Peer into the pupil of another. What do you see? Do you see a black hole the same as your own? Maybe they’re not even just the same as in similar but the ‘same’ like the space around a star is the ‘same’ space near or far.
A black hole isn’t a “hole” at all. It isn’t even black. It’s an orb in space that looks black because light can’t escape. If you jumped on one you’d descend towards it so slowly that “it would take an infinite amount of time” for you to be atomically disassembled and added to it (Universe Today).
Isn’t it odd how black holes look a lot like pupils in eyeballs, which, by the way, also absorb light rays (Wikipedia)?
An old philosopher said, “Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death” (Schopenhauer, 1851). The question is: If your lifespan is 24 hours, how will you live it?
Enjoy the role of you playing you always and forever (or at least until a tower falls on you).