NOT ALONE, BUT ALONE

“… and then you realize that every single human being who’s survived long enough to form their own opinions on things is an incredibly, insanely complex individual filled with hopes, dreams, fears, loves, hates, desires, and despises just like you. And that at some point they’re going to shuffle off into whatever is or isn’t in the vast and dark plane of the afterlife, leaving you behind to wait your own turn, and wonder if you’ll ever meet them again.

“That’s perhaps why we marginalize so many of them. People, I mean. It’s the only way to keep our hearts from shattering into a million pieces on a moment-to-moment basis.”

UNHEARD TREES

Meanwhile, on alien worlds, millions of undiscovered species go extinct.

What is this noble, narcissistic, self-centered drive to catalog and preserve everything we can observe? The principles are sound, in the same way that the well-tarred hull of a rowboat can be, but what does that matter when we’re tossing about in seas that could swallow us at any moment?

I’ll tell you: it’s all a part of the death diversion. Why fill the hours of a life at all? For the non-sentient it’s almost exclusively about survival. Eat, drink, procreate, sleep. Play. Play is the first level of the death diversion, for it lives outside of the core necessities of existence. The greater a creature’s intelligence, the more complex and potentially enriching the modes of play. Yet all of it, all of the hours that one can spend lost in the ludic mindset, are just there to alleviate the anxiety of the constant dread of one’s own end. It’s not something that most acknowledge, instead choosing to focus on the joy such activities bring, but underneath the thin layer of protective lacquer that we apply to our lives lies the roiling tumult of ever-present death.

In this way, love is classified as a type of play. Science, the arts and humanities, anything that can absorb our attention for longer than a moment and take us away from dwelling on our own despair can be said as such. All of our advances, all of our progress, spring forth unbidden from boredom and fear. They say that “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”, yet is not idleness the font for all that we’ve wrought? I’d say that it is.

We do our best to hold our ground against the swirling maelstrom of the infinite unknown that awaits us once the light fades into total darkness, and we make all kinds of excuses for it. Isn’t sentience and self-awareness a kind of insanity? To understand one’s own insignificance is both glorious and terrifying, freeing and imprisoning the mind in a single coup, thereafter occupying us until the end of our days. This is the plight of humanity, and it is what drives us to form our realities from what we can observe, to apply names to everything in sight, even if those names disagree with the ones bestowed by previous generations, for redefinition can occupy a lifetime of diversion. To know, to search for meaning in what may very well be an ultimately meaningless universe of stuff, this play that swallows us up and spits out an identity.

And yet, on realms hidden in the vast depths of space, millions of undiscovered species go extinct.

BEASTS

What was this fearful rhythm?
The pounding of the drum
the clapping of hands
the stamping of feet
a clarion call
to dance
to battle
I know not which.

The irresistible fire of this tribal reunion
with the animals we have been
and the animals we remain,
this inescapable nature of our reality.

I think I am watching from beyond,
outside of the circle,
yet I am the center of attention
from both within
and without.