Saturday, August 12, 2017
6:50 a.m. I am so aware of just killing time – reading, playing Tetris, sleeping – anything to pass the time, and any work I happen to do is just another way of filling the time. And then there is binge-eating when the discomfort gets too great. What am I going to do?
7:50 a.m. I suppose it is useless to ask questions rhetorically when I can hope for an answer. Why do I kill time and if I did not, what would I do?
Is it not the lack of suitable occupation that leads you to kill time? If you cannot produce something, you don’t have any other ideas. But is this not an advance, to realize it?
I don’t know. All my life I have read and killed time.
Madame Blavatsky played solitaire – Patience – for day after day. How is it different?
So what is going on? I am taking it to be my recognition of the emptiness of my life.
Perhaps everyone’s life has this emptiness, as you are calling it, at their core. Some escape into productive activity, some into meaningless activity, some into work punctuated by play, actively or casually, according to taste. Relatively few, perhaps, see the emptiness as it is, a sea of opportunity.
Is it opportunity if you don’t know what to do with it?
Opportunity is; what you do with it does not reflect on the possibilities you did not see or take advantage of. But maybe your lives are not about filling them but experiencing them.
If you were to fill your life with danger or excitement or nonstop amusements – as some do – you might never feel the weight of the time to be filed, but the reality would remain, perceived or not.
If you were to embark upon a life of contemplation and prayer, or of Zen-like non-doing, the time would still be being filled; it is only a different form of activity. Non-doing may be seen as an advanced awareness of the emptiness of doing, but really, you are still sitting there while the time goes by.
Study, writing, creating art, engaging in community activities, warfare and preparing for warfare, craftsmanship, teaching or nurturing others – you name it, it may still be properly described as passing the time until you can be free of it all.
What you are experiencing is not the emptiness of life but the tyranny of time – and time is a tyrant only if you choose to look at it in that way. It is entirely as correct to see it as the drillmaster, or the regulator.
It is true, I have always, even as a young child, been aware of the impossibility of moving forward in time any faster than it carries us. It was an imprisoning feeling, in a way. Yet now at the far end of this long life it feels like I let it all slip by without ever figuring out what it was I was supposed to do!
And here I remind you of the difference between a life doing and a life being. To do may, among many other things, serve to blur or ignore the question of what you are here for. To be, without doing, is essentially not possible. But even if it were possible, what could it do but heighten the question of why you are positioned wherever you are, being?
Well, you don’t have to persuade me! Isn’t that more or less what I said? So what do we do, how do we be, imprisoned or cuddled in time as we are?
You tell us. How do you live? Your life as lived is your answer.
I don’t know, I can’t get much out of that. What is the point of a stretch of days that are either filled with activity or filled with inactivity or are alternates of one and the other, none of it meaning anything ultimately? Yes, we’re here. Yes, we make decisions and shape ourselves. Yes, we bring our 3D-hardened selves to become part of the All-D library. But – begging your pardon for any ingratitude – what is the point of it all? And if it is meaningful, why doesn’t it feel that way? Not a rhetorical question, so I hope you won’t just leave the question hanging, nor the questioner.
But we have answered it. Your life is its own purpose. The living-out of who you are – regardless how you play the role, since you are creating the character as you go – is the point of it.
I don’t think that answers my question. What is this feeling of emptiness at the core? If it is there for everyone, it says either something is wrong with life – which I am not inclined to think – or something is wrong with the way we live our life, or we are missing something.
You are tempted to compare your civilized lies with the lives of the indigenous peoples which seem so much more organic and contented.
Yes, I am, and before you say I wouldn’t be contented as an aborigine, I already know that. My American who lived with an Indian family [Joseph Smallwood. Couldn’t remember his name!] appreciated it, enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough, any more than living among the whites was enough. I would need books and many abstract things; I could not simplify back to such a life. And who knows if they feel that emptiness too? They don’t seem to, but how would we know?
The emptiness at the heart of things is always there, but what you make of it differs. What is a void to some is a creative matrix to others. What is futility to one is possibility to another.
Empty formulas, is what this sounds like to me, at the moment.
Then hear this. A human is a herd animal and an individual, and every human is on a different point in the scale between individual and family. If you live at the edge of the herd, your senses will be sharper for the things of the world that are not communal, at the price of not sharing in the warmth of the group.
I read all that in van der Post.
And it resonated. Do you suppose there is a reason for that?
Very funny. So, in practice–
In practice what can you do but remain awake and see what develops? There is no point – and really, for anyone in this fix, no possibility – in trying to become un-aware of the emptiness, or let’s say the eye of the storm. If some can anesthetize themselves against the awareness, that is no different from some refusing to look at the fact that at some point everybody dies. But if you have been given awareness, it is impossible and undesirable for you to try to return the gift. Can’t be done, shouldn’t be done, and ultimately if it could be done, a different kind of emptiness – the emptiness of despair – would naturally take its place.
I didn’t expect this to develop into a regular session, but, since it did, I will type it up and post it, and see if anybody else feels the same way. It was odd, being unable to remember Joseph’s name.
You and I were far away from Joseph at that moment.
I’m not sure what that means.
If you say so. All right, then, thank you, and we’ll see what develops.