A collection of short essays compiled from the 52Weeks series between December 01 and December 29, curated here to document our theories on the process of being. See the related short essays, Death.

Life.

December 31 2018

Portrait outtakes, December 2018

Introduction

Like death, time is a paradox because as we get older, our mind does not. Its only awareness of chronology is through the sensory connections to the body, because without these inputs, we do not age; consciousness simply is.

Forgetting is the only reason we sense the transition of time, and if we could recall every detail, we could, in effect, be in any moment. The only difference to our mind between now and then is the information we can remember about how it felt. Without fading memories, time would stand still.

As we progress, we become more capable of understanding our self, but only if we try. All it takes is concentration on our memories to find the bridge between our present self and former, and the more we reflect, we find we are the same.

We become what we experience at an early age; if we remain unaware, that experience alone determines reality. The voyage moves from our previous examination of death to a celebration of life as we explore the unchanging nature of the mind, and the building of our sense of self.

Untitled Portrait, December 2018

Early Memories

Dampness, chlorophyl, and popping from the nearby harvest of burning sugar cane. Flocks of cackling blackbirds, and musty dirt as I lay staring up at the blue grey smoky sky. I don’t itch when rolling in clovers — they are wetter than the grass and full of bees, but I don’t care because recess is almost over.

Ten years later, my palms are sweaty, sitting in the car on a back road between two fields where mom is teaching me to use the clutch. There is no one else around for over a mile, but I’m shaking and scared of driving into the ditch at the side of the road. When I turned 21 six years later, I was fearless at life, and driving, and convinced recess was a mirage because adulthood makes us different.

Now I have less hair and my skin has grown coarse in the last twenty-five years, just like my vision. But, thankfully I’ve reversed some of the decisions I made that entangled me with the world since five, and I spend more time alone in my thoughts, just like then. I remember now that I’m the same person, and the liberation is sublime.

Untitled, December 2018

Development of Personality

Until recently, I failed to consider that our personalities develop as if we are a big container that fills during life with our reactions to the world, and from which our character is built — we eventually become what is inside the container. But the vessel itself does not change, which means there is always a potential to reverse who we are.

That insight was validating, because without the reminders in the mirror or the small printed text that every damn day gets harder to read, I would not be aware I’m nearly fifty. After all the years of mocking the dumb cliché when I was too young to understand it, now I know age really is just a number (at least until we’re dead). Before, I used to think I would evolve, as if physical growth or emotional maturity would somehow alter who I would be. But that was an ignorant mistake, and now it’s clear, despite what we think, age doesn’t matter at all unless we care about the conventions of others.

Before realizing my error about the nature of my self, I often considered becoming a recluse. I didn’t know why this appealed to me. At least now I’m comfortable reversing who I am by unraveling from the world, and forgetting its expectations.

Imprint, December 2018

Lack of Self

At birth, I knew nothing; at death, I will be nothing.

My grandfather passed when I was ten.
When I was thirteen, mom left Thibodaux.
On my own at eighteen.
Married at twenty-eight.
Lost my step-dad.
Breakdown at thirty.
Lost my aunt.
Lost my grandmothers.
Lost my self.
Divorced.
Started over.
Found her.
Found my self.

At each moment in life, I was a different person. If I’m all these people, I am no one.

Being no one is bliss.

With Vassar, December 2018

Freedom

Despite what I was told in school and through the early years, my life is not unique and special. It is empty and meaningless, just like yours. But that doesn’t mean it has no value.

My biggest mistake so far has been the lack of questions to consider why I was thoughtlessly following, instead of ruthlessly leading my own life. Not understanding my self enough to know what I wanted was the next biggest issue, a problem left ignored because of the safety of the script I thought I should follow. Clearly that was wrong.

Since then, I see awareness itself is the meaning of life, because without it, we know nothing. But, with enough time and understanding, we will realize the emptiness of our life is equivalent to its goodness, and because of that, anything is possible.

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