constancy of deposited richness
Friday, December 22 2006
Today we would be visited by our friends from the city: Ray, Nancy, Nancy's sister Linda, and Linda's husband Adam. They'd be spending the night en route to an ultimate destination Upstate.
We all ended up at a Christmas party in Woodstock hosted by our friends the Photogenic Vegan Buddhists. It was a big crowd, but with the exception of Gretchen, our group remained a largely-undigested non-vegan lump in the middle of it. It was only after several glasses of wine that I began to circulate and talk with people, some of whom were complete strangers.
At some point I had a conversation with Ray about how the years just seem to be whipping by at this point in our lives. I observed that, despite the fact that I keep adding years and experiences to my life, I don't feel subjectively as if I have accumulated any "more" now than I had twenty years ago. Thinking back on my life, it doesn't seem as if the strata of my life has any more layers now than it had then. This is absurd objectively, of course, and if I start listing the twists and turns of my life I tell a much richer story than I could have when I was in my teens. But the subjective experience is what really matters to the reptile coiled up within, and to him the apparent constancy of deposited richness leads to a depreciation of the value of years. When I was four I remember consciously thinking about my place in the world, and back then four years was essentially the lifespan of the Universe. To get to eight would require living through that enormous span (a large fraction of which had been lost to the amnesia of infancy) again. At this point in my life it takes 38 years to equal what four years did then, and to live all that again takes me not to some point well within childhood but to a day not far from the end of a normal life. These are the thoughts from which a midlife crisis are made.
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