Specks of Light
I’ve been taking inventory lately of everything I’ve experienced in my life up to this point and I have to admit, I’ve now acquired a wide gamut of human experiences and emotions. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to properly organize, or catalog these events in my mind. I’ve wondered how other people “see” things when they close their eyes, and if the differences make things like this easier for other people. For example, I can not “see” anything when I close my eyes, it’s only darkness. I hear the expression “now picture this in your mind…” often and I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt because surely people can’t produce still images of objects and memories at will, right? Maybe that’s why I was always a lousy artist.
I’ve never visually hallucinated anything actually, which is kind of bizarre if you think about it. I’ve done a countless array of mind altering substances in my life and I’ve realized that throughout all my various trips and the events that’ve happened along the way, my view of the world has remained boringly intact and straightforward. Certain chemicals have given objects a bit of swirlyness or a shine, but I have never seen cartoons or monsters lurking from under the shadows. (A trip in my college years on Salvia Divinorum may have come close at one point tho, when I did discuss the nature of patience to a pirate while I had exited the room to take a piss.)
The darkness I see when I close my eyes has always kind of terrified me. I think it’s the main reason why I hate sleeping and I struggle with insomnia. I have a prescription for Seroquel, an atypical antiposychotic, for the sole reason of knocking me out at night. I think the longest I ever stayed awake was eleven days, and I was being housed at the psych wing of the Men’s Central Jail in Downtown LA at the time. I wanna say this was around 2010 or 2011. I’m glad I finally did find a way to sleep because I often wonder what could’ve happened if I’d gone a couple days longer. I believe that may have been the visit where they put me in a lit cell for a period of three days, naked with only a padded garment we lovingly refer to as a “turtle suit”. I was introduced to Risperidone which is a medication that induced nightmarish panic attacks when I took it. I guess they were afraid I’d try to kill myself but they mistakenly made the chances of that happening skyrocket. Luckily I made sense of reality and was able to convince the guards I was a normal functioning happy citizen, a member of our bone-crushingly depressing society. I’m sure I didn’t use those words. Anyway, I digress.
Terrible things happen to all of us and I’ve been realizing that human brains don’t all function the exact same way. Some people cope with these events in a very matter-of-fact, brisk kind of tone. I’ve seen people who have had family members die and can function quite normally shortly afterwards using cold logic and what sounds like reason to be able to justify acting that way. It amazes me, and it can be very impressive, but I might argue that maybe people aren’t correctly feeling the enormous implications and ramifications of grief. When somebody I know has died, I feel a vast heaviness from the void that is leftover from a light that been snuffed out. It doesn’t even matter if this is somebody I didn’t really like, if they were a part of my life and I’ve interacted with that life in some way at some point, I feel the vacant hole when that light is gone and it crushes me.
It can be hard to know when important things are happening to us, even when they are occurring directly in front of our eyes. Most of us only maybe see these things as drastic occurrences afterwards, as memories, and then have to try to categorize and catalog the emotions they felt at the time. I assume that’s because it’d be very hard to BOTH deal with the ramifications of terrible events and also deal with the current actualities of that terrible event in real time. It may be hard to ever do anything if I’m always spending all my effort stressing about the possible outcomes of any action I might take. I suppose that’s what Doctors refer to as my “anxiety disorder” and that’s why I’m prescribed medication to help me with that.
I applaud the people who go through life always making good decisions. It’s a trait to be envied for sure, but please understand that not all bad decisions are made with the intention to do bad things. Obviously, this is not about the people who have spent time and energy to create wicked goals and then made more bad decisions to repeatedly do bad things to accomplish those goals. At a certain point, those aren’t “bad decisions made in the heat of the moment” but an active campaign to make the world a worse place. But what I’m referring to is a lot of bad decisions that are made through inaction, or indifference to what the common good should be.
What is the common good? Hah, nobody has the attention span for that. US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart may have set it best when he said “I know it when I see it.” when trying to describe his threshold for what qualifies as pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio. I have a lifetime of bad experiences, but I also have a lifetime of good ones. I have been guilty of allowing my bad experiences paint a dark picture of what humanity is capable of, but when I remind myself of the good things we’ve accomplished, the picture looks a little brighter.
Humans are in space now. Olympic records are at just absolutely incredible numbers. Our modern cars contain up to a hundred separate individual computer systems communicating almost at light speeds across their own can-bus networks. We have the whole of all human knowledge available to us when we’re trying to poop.
And so I look at all human lives as specks of light amidst a terrifying void of darkness and confusion. Not all lights burn with the same intensity, and sometimes that has to do with the direction those lights are pointed. Not all lights are pointed directly at me, and that’s a concept I’ve learned to deal with in my own way as all of us should. I don’t want everybody’s full attention and focus all the time, but it should be very fucking important what we choose to point ourselves toward. Are we making the world a brighter place? Because the alternative is a world filled with cartoon monsters, hobos jacking off between cars in an alleyway at 3am, and a haunting voice that will never stop asking “could I have done more?”.