There’s a time in life when everything becomes linear. It may last for just a moment or stretch out for hours, even days for some.
In this linear moment, one can look forward or turn and look back and everything is in view. Everything. Time and memories and plans and lives and loves all line up like an endless picket fence or telephone poles marching over the horizon.
I saw it all yesterday. It was last evening to be precise, just before sundown. I was standing on a beach. Maybe it was the borderline created by the waves lapping onto the grey bed of sand. Maybe it was the clean edge of the ocean and sky horizon.
I turned my head, spun away slowly from the water to the houses lining the bush and grass dominated rise at the top of the beach. And there it was, my life. I saw it. Clearly, like never before. It was a long life, full. But the strange thing about seeing it all so clearly was how foreign it felt. It was not a life recognized in its entirety, its whole. The cacophony of thoughts and feelings and images was overwhelming. It was a tidal wave of life, of moments, of dreams.
I was there. I could see and feel each fraction of each moment that compiled the life lived, but I could not see it all at once. The simple and utterly pure blast of realization in the ensuing moment was blinding. I was blinded by it. Like a billion suns.
It wasn’t me. The life I saw stretching out into and endless, seamless past was not mine. And the patently simple reason I did not recognize this life was that it was not me in those moments. That person, that being inhabiting those frames was another. But who?
Who had lived this life and experienced these tiny fractures? The blind can see. They merely see with their mind. They create the visible, visual world without a true perception of what it is to see.
A linear view of life showed me this blind reality. In the instant after the billion suns showed me the truth about my life, the blank, formless dark emptiness showed me truth that lies below the perception of truth. Life in a linear fashion is the culmination of lives lived and died each moment. The simple reason I could not recognize this life was that I had not lived it. I changed each moment. That person in those frames was another, another me.
That person, that human I see stepping into that linear future is also another me. Older, wiser, humbler. Maybe.
Written at 32,000 feet from Charleston to DFW 12/14/11.