I started listening to Remains of the Day by the new winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. After 15 minutes of nothing happening, and multiple restarts cause I zoned out thinking about something else, I gave up and returned it.
I know I have criticized today’s people for having no patience, for wanting explosions on page one, for having no palate for subtlety… but, just because I don’t need something exploding on the first page doesn’t mean I can do without it being intriguing on the first page, or beautiful on the first page.
There are a million books out there, and thousands of best selling, highly rated, amazing ones that everyone should read in their lifetime. And I can’t read all of them. There just isn’t enough time.
No matter how many books I read, there will be life-changing, mind-expanding, soul-brightening novels I will never get to enjoy–never even be aware that I missed out on.
So if something isn’t grabbing me by the heart or mind or soul or throat after the first few pages, then I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to waste on it.
I’m thankful to exist, to be able to experience pleasure and thought and excitement and wonder, and even to experience sadness and longing and melancholy–because these are all things, all flavors of the world that mix together to make the meal of life.
I’m thankful I can write without pain, and think without pain, and am grateful for every minute that I can.
I’m thankful I was born in such a place and raised in such a way that I turned out as me.
I’m thankful to live in a society with free access to information, and in a time where anyone can learn anything they want if they work at it hard enough.
I’m thankful that I’ve got imagination, intuition and improvisation skills.
I’m thankful for my wife and cat and family and friends!
A genetic switch in our brain sends us into a deep sleep for 8 hours every day at exactly the same time, no matter where on earth you are. If you are in an area where that 8 hours lines up with all your daylight, then that’s just how it is. People tend to move to areas with daylight during waking hours, and the cheaper living is in areas of night.
All machinery has to be made able to operate untended for 8 hours in a row. In order to leave less downtime, many people have ‘split shifts’ meaning they work a few hours, collapse into biologically forced unconsciousness while at their posts, then wake to keep working afterward.
In this world, artificial intelligence would be perfected and accepted much quicker than in our world, simply due to necessity. The AI’s would be used to enforce a curfew, and to move people who collapsed outside and may be eaten by animals.
Two seconds forward, one second back. You move the slice of pizza toward your mouth, and right before you bite it moves back a bit and you’ve got to do it again. You bite, chew, start to swallow, then have to swallow again.
Would your brain adjust to this kind of existence, or would every action take great focus? Speaking certainly would. Language would probably evolve to a short staccato so you could be sure not to be cut off mid word by the time jump. But, since no one forgets anything, you wouldn’t have to repeat yourself during the repeated second. Unless you were making a recording..
In this world, recording music, or playing it, would be almost impossible. But games would be very interesting, since you could act on what you saw happen the first time through that second… but so could your opponent. Playing games against a computer, though, would give humans an advantage, since the computer could only do the same thing over and over. Unless.. it was a conscious computer…
And now I’m even older…
My birthday was on Friday, and they just keep coming quicker.
One day I’ll wake up and be 50, then another I’ll wake up and be dead.
Just like your birthday, you have a death-day that you pass each year. A future anniversary of your demise. Which day could it be? Any of them.
What if we knew the day, but not what year we would die? If you knew you’d die on January 1st, for example, how would you behave differently on that day? Would you? There would be nothing you could do to prevent it, no matter how safe you were, how careful…
Maybe we’d be more appreciative of those we love and the things we have, on that day each year. Maybe we’d spend it telling our family we love them, in case we don’t get another chance. And the following morning, when we were still alive, we’d be grateful for life and take it for granted a little bit less.
Of course… there would be the problem of everyone being immortal for the other 364 days of their year……
It is so easy to take things for granted. But any of the things you enjoy in life could vanish at any moment. Not only that, but they almost certainly will vanish or change at some point before your death.
Do you love your job? You won’t always have it. Or even if you somehow do keep that same job until your death, you won’t always have the same boss, the same coworkers, the same responsibilities, the same office, the same hours–all the things that add up to make your job one you love. Your circumstances are temporary, so appreciate them while you have them.
Do you love writing? You won’t always be able to write the way you do. Your circumstances will change, you’ll get other responsibilities, you’re tastes will change, your schedule will change–something will happen to make it harder, and these circumstances that are helping you be so productive will end. Enjoy them while you can. Make use of them while you can.
But the bad things are temporary, too.
That boss that makes your life hell will move on to some other job. The writer’s block will pass. The pain will stop. Keep hope, and endure.
Yesterday I set off some fireworks with family at my sisters house. It seems the quality of fireworks has gone down over the past year, because these ones kept falling over and shooting at us, and a small fire was started in the bushes, which we scrambled to put out.
After that adrenaline rush, I kept thinking of how easily I could have been terribly injured. And on the drive home I kept thinking about how I could easily die at any moment, and convinced myself for a few moments that I would likely die soon.
It was a strange feeling. You can know, logically, that you will die one day. You can say all the platitudes–life is short, you’ll be old before you know it, one day you’ll wake up and realize you’ve wasted your life… etc–but feeling it is something else all together.
I realized–and accepted, on some deeper level than I had before, that my time is very limited. I might only have a couple years left, or a couple months. There is no way to know. And even if I’m lucky and have 30 or 50 years to go, that is still going to fly by extremely fast.
We have very little time to do the things we want, and we shouldn’t waste that time worrying about if we’re doing it right, or good enough for someone else.
Just do it. Don’t put it off. Do it now.
I’m going to write as much as I can before I die. And I hope that some of it will resonate with enough people to live on for a while after I’m gone.
I don’t know what this has to do with Independence day, except maybe that I’m now more independent from myself. I’m not going to rely on time or life to work out in a convenient way. I’m going to do it now, while I can!