We are taken by it. The rush of seconds, hours, years that hurls us toward life then drags us toward nothingness…We inhabit time as fish live in water. Our being is being in time. Its solemn music nurtures us, opens the world to us, troubles us, frightens and lulls us.
As long as I stared at the clock, at least the world remained in motion. Not a very consequential world, but in motion nonetheless. And as long as I knew the world was still in motion, I knew I existed. Not a very consequential existence, but an existence nonetheless.
Eight months have passed since I made a bamboo forest in my tank. I usually just change the water, but this time I pruned the plants and switched out the planter box for the first time in a while. I set my aquarium plant light to shine for eight hours a day with a timer.
Global narrative collapse events tend to have a very surreal glued-to-screens quality surrounding them. That’s how you know everybody has lost the plot: everybody is tracking the rawest information they have access to, rather than the narrative that most efficiently sustains their reality.
In terms of some new vocabulary I’m developing, temporality (your constructed sense of subjective time) collapses to what I call the log level. As in, you’re down to monitoring the equivalent of computer event logs; the tick-tock stream of raw events being recorded, prior to being evaluated and filtered for significance.
It’s not as if times of fear and despair are anything new. People have fought wars, struggled to survive, faced injustice, experienced loss, dealt with violence and greed, and been caught up in historical movements beyond their control pretty much forever.
Life has never been that easy.
In Buddhist practice, you learn never to shy away from facing the pain of the human condition. At the same time, you also learn not to shy away from the beauty and value of life in all its forms.
By clearly seeing the extremes of experience, you learn to scout a middle way.
Early in 2016 Twitter was awash with folks talking about resistance. Primarily in reference to the recently sworn in president - A man who was going to be in office four long years.
I asked people I knew there "Where did you first learn resilience?"
There was no response.
“Adversity is a fact of life. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise.” —Psychology Today
It wasn't surprising. The circles represented by my Twitter followers were largely comprised of folks that have been upper middle class for their entire lives. In a handful of cases, they'd even moved into full on wealth.
In that world, resilience is largely hypothetical.
Not that they haven't faced very real struggles. Both internal and external. But resilience is not required to come back from those difficulties. There is a contextual momentum that can carry one through. Repeatedly.
Take that missed opportunity for growth and mix it with privilege. Resilience becomes less a concept and more a metaphor for "spending money". Think of post-crash gold bar dreams, Post-Trump safe room fantasies, and even more extreme schemes.
Retreating into privilege can only ever work temporarily (at best). There is always something lurking around the corner to pop your bubble. Largely because the same factors that enable retreat feed what lurks.