This is going to be a long one, and I may not finish tonight. One of the whys behind The Project (one of many!) is simple Efficiency.
I have started to feel more and more like I tell the same stories, have the same conversations- over and over again, with minor variations, with many of the people I speak with.
This – this is Not Efficient. I want to try to start having the kinds of discussions in which I grow, in which I learn new things about this world and the people within it- publicly.
So. I am trying something New, right now- I am writing this as a response to a question I was just asked by someone on Twitter, in DMs. My hope is that tomorrow, when he wakes up- he will read this, and perhaps even respond here, where the whole dialogue may be transcribed to the blog. For anyone to read.
I responded to one of his tweets about how he feels like everyone is always saying the same thing- with a short story. He asked me to say more about that realization/belief.
I am going to flesh that short story out a bit here, first.
This story is about mushrooms. I haven’t done mushrooms very many times, but every time I have – my perception of the world has shifted, permanently.
Not very significantly- at least, not in the short term. But over time, the effect on how I perceive the world, in a fundamental way- has become drastic.
The first time I took shrooms, I took…a fair amount.
I remember sitting in the little garage that was the hang out spot at the house I lived in, nestled in some blankets.
I asked for toast, and was handed bread, butter, and a knife.
I remember feeling dimly aware of the absurdity of not being capable of actually getting butter from the container, onto the knife, and thus onto the bread-
and the next thing I remember is Darkness.
I was floating, you could say- except that isn’t entirely accurate, because floating implies air, implies a body with which to soar.
I had awareness of the existence of none of those things.
I simply, was.
I knew that I was, because I knew I had Thought.
There were voices around me, great deities somewhere in an overlapping dimension which I could sense, but could not see.
The blanket, you see, ended up covering my eyes, when I laid down on the couch.
Every so often I would realize those voices I could hear- were that of Friends, who might be Concerned.
So, every so often- I’d reassure them:
“Hey guys? I’m okay! I don’t know what I am, but I’m alright!”
And then I’d return to The Task at Hand.
I knew that if I had consciousness, I must be some kind of Being. And I was determined to seek out clues and solve this Great Mystery.
“So.” I’d think, to myself. “What attributes do I have?”
I had no awareness of my limbs.
The only thing that was consistent was, for some odd reason- my bottom retainer.
Using my tongue, I’d feel that I had a bottom retainer. From there, I was able to deduce that I must therefore also have a mouth.
I felt very pleased with myself for getting that far.
So I would then try to figure out what other clues I might have available to me.
I’d wiggle my toes, for example, and the awareness that I must then also have feet! would strike me.
By this time, though- I had invariably forgotten that I had a mouth.
And so it went- for something like six incredibly fascinating hours.
The second time I took mushrooms – I had a much clearer grasp of my physicality, and much less of a hold on my conscious mind.
This was partially due to not having inadvertently covered my eyes with a blanket- but also partially, I believe, due to simply being around people who kept trying to speak directly to me.
If that had happened the first time, I’m sure I would have struggled just as much in responding.
I’d be looking right at someone, trying to figure out where the molecules stopped being that of Air, and started being that of Person- and I would have a vague awareness of word-sounds echoing around in my skull for what felt like several long minutes before I could begin processing those words into things with coherent meaning, let alone begin to undertake the arduous task of trying to speak word-sounds in response.
Mostly, I watched. And I listened. And I heard.
It was a small group of people, no more than five or six.
And they each told the same stories, multiple times.
I could hear, in one part of my brain- the words they were saying.
But those words entered my mind with a different meaning.
One person, the one I remember the most clearly, now- kept telling everyone about a research paper of some sort that was about to get published.
Those were the words he spoke.
The meaning that I heard, was something more like: “I want to be accepted, in this group of people, right now- for my intelligence.”
These other thoughts, they were so loud. Deafening.
I could not engage with the conversation, because it was too hard to separate out what I was hearing, from what they were saying.
I can’t recall what the rest of them spoke of.
But from that night on, I started listening for those other things, the things we are communicating with the words we speak.
I began classifying these things, in my head.
“I want you to respect me.”
“I want you to think I am beautiful.”
And so on.
My own words were not exempt from this.
Eventually, I had compiled a short mental list of possible things I thought people were really saying, behind their words.
A few things, that we use countless and inconceivably variable words to express.
I told a friend of mine that I believed everyone was always saying the same two or three things.
He immediately responded by saying “everyone is always saying the same thing.”
This friend of mine, back in college- was, at times, stunning in his depth of insight.
At other times, he’d claim that every time a street light flickered, a seal would bark three times.
So, I took things that sounded crazy to me, with a grain of salt.
I dismissed that one, initially.
Waved it away, as him being just crazy him again.
I wish I could remember the exact moment things shifted for me. I cannot. But I do remember how it felt, when it did.
Something happened to jog my brain just so- and his words came back to me, in a flash.
I felt like I’d been winded; that change in my brain sudden and complete enough that the pause between breaths seemed to last an eternity.
What is this one thing, that I believe everyone is always saying?
It’s frustrating how insufficient words are, to describe such a thing.
But it is something akin to “I yearn.”
I yearn, to live.
To be successful, to be happy, to be famous, to be rich, to be powerful, to be respected.
I yearn, to be accepted.
Humans as Mad Libs.
That feeling, is universal. The ways we attempt to fulfill it- mind-boggling, in their variety.
Now. I have never met another person who has said such a thing, until tonight.
I fell out of contact with that friend from college before I had a chance to ask him if that was what he meant, when he said that everyone is always saying the same thing.
I am going to send a link to this server to the third person I have ever met who has said such a thing- and then I will try to sleep.
For, on the morrow- I may find out that we mean different things, when we say that everyone is always saying the same thing.
Or, maybe I won’t. Maybe I will find out that I’m not so alone, or so crazy- as I once thought.