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bird poops on plum branch


Buster Benson

No advice column.

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bird poops on plum branch
Now that the storm is over, there's an interesting calm. I can feel it, even though I still feel crazy in the head. But it's slowly spreading its feathery wings over me.

And maybe it's because I've been watching Six Feet Under from the beginning with Kellianne (we are almost through the first season in less than a week... she's seen it before, I haven't) or maybe it's because I just sat through the second half of Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World (I love the last line about humans being the way the universe witnesses itself) or maybe it's because this calm after the storm has released my traumatized brain to seek out a new existential worry to ground it a bit, but I've been thinking a lot about death and dying and my own mortality this last week.

No matter how many times I have the mortal realization that we're all going to die, it always startles me and sends me into a bit of a minor panic. It makes me realize that there is no time to waste.  We need to make our meaning now.  We need to enjoy the fruits of our labor now.  We need to tell people we love them now.  These are the only links that vibrate with their own existence, and will leave the lightest trace on this light moment in time.

I liked Herzog's leading question of the divers who had discovered 3 new species of something or other under the ice that day.  They didn't seem all that excited, but he asked them, "Is this a great moment?"  And they lifted their spirits a little bit and said that yes, it was.  And as soon as they did that, it became a great moment, even though it wasn't before.

And so I think about what holds me back from appreciating the greatness in every moment?  Is it my blood sugar level?  Is it the fact that I'm slightly hung over?  Did I not drink enough water?  Did I not get enough sleep?  Is the perfectly healthy and balanced person able to better appreciate the greatness in each moment?  

Or is it because in order to appreciate the greatness in each moment, we have to contribute a bit of our own souls to the moment.  And our own souls get tired easily and quickly run out of stuff to contribute.  We can only contribute to the appreciation of great moments when we are 1-up (my definition of 1-up).  And yet, perhaps the greatness of a moment pulls us back to the center, towards the balanced point where we neither need energy nor give it off, where energy is balanced.  Regression towards the meanThe hedonic treadmill.  A sustainable equilibrium... but is it a place where euphoria and true connection to the universe and our place in it can be comprehended? 

I like that I have friends who seem to be on the same path of finding the truly great and beautiful moments in this life.  I feel like if I'm near you all, that somehow understanding will come more quickly.  Not even logical understanding, but simply the kind of understanding that appears in the corner of your periphery vision and then dances away.  That calming, thoughtless, groundless understanding.

For me, now, this calm time is a time to think about goals again.  To move beyond the limits that hold me back.  To be okay with feeling a little groundless, neither 1-up nor 1-down, with a very slow and stable momentum that doesn't necessarily dazzle, to rest, recover, and think about what's not only next, but what's right now.

Sometimes, as strong and startling as the thought of my true mortality is (when I lie in bed and peel abstractions off of abstractions until I can really have THE THOUGHT (as it was described by someone a while ago)), it stirs something up that then leads to an equally startling and strong thought of the true value of living, that we are alive, weirdly human, aliens in disguise, and it's totally amazing.

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Oh, the thought. Sometimes I wish I never thought it. But it makes me realize how important life is, and how precious little time we have here. I know how you feel when you write something like this. I'm glad you wrote it. Thank you.

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