THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

The humidity in Salies today is about 999%. It seems like one is breathing warm soup and there is no way to stop perspiring. Everything feels sticky, my face, arms, chest and down to the tip of my toes. Dry is an unknown state.       Even this morning when the air was much cooler, it felt heavy and uncomfortable and made one break out in sweat at the slightest movement. At three o’clock this morning the town was hit by a thunder and lightning storm loud and bright enough to awaken hibernating bears. Salomé shuddered with each clap of light and even I was nervous upon closing the window, wondering if my body and the metal frame were enough to attract a zapping by Zeus’s flash gun.

The summer has been so humid and wet that the corn is two weeks behind in ripening and most of the tomatoes rotted green on the vine. The weather for this week was announced alongside a cartoon portraying a young girl swimming in green waters and a replica of Jaws circling round underneath her. At this moment, it is only 5:30 in the afternoon, but there is less light than at 9:30 immediately after sunset, and gusts of wind, some raging at a good 60 kms/hr, promise first another downpour, then more sun, then another rainfall, sun again.  I had promised myself to iron clothes and study French this afternoon, but both Salomé and I are limp as dishrags.

So instead I sit here writing this and eating popcorn while she sleeps, too beat to move after nothing but a very short walk.

Is this the way the world ends, not with a bang but in a fierce gust of wind (to paraphrase T.S. Elliot) or a financial downslide? It certainly is a thought I have had all week as the stock markets trembled and plunged and the most powerful country in the world showed its clay feet and hid its face as its credit rating went from AAA to just AA.  Internet is certainly jam-packed with predictions: the world is coming to an end, the world the way we know it, on the 21st of December 2012. Is that possibly true? But of course it is! The world as we know it is coming to an end but not in 510 days as predicted, but rather every second of every minute of every hour of every day. As a matter of fact, the world as we know it can’t be known: we can’t know it because the moment we believe we do, it has already changed: what we believe we contemplated only a nano second ago, is no longer there, it has vanished, changed, never again to be the same as it never was the same before. Every leaf, every inch of highway, every lamppost, each ear of corn or clump of grapes, the fingers that hit the keyboard, the keyboard itself… gone, changing, flowing, never the same: what we see no longer is, it is gone before it is registered on the ever changing, shifting neurons in our brains.

The world as I knew it when I was one or three or fifteen or thirty two has come to an end. It would be better even to say: “The world as we can never know it is always ending; there is no perceivable difference between beginning and end.” There is no difference between the memory of my childhood or adolescence and the movie I just watched on the DVD, they are both unreal, stories told in images in an attempt to capture what is impossible to grasp.

No one can actually understand what is really happening as we attempt to catch glimpses of it as it appears, or appears to appear. We try. There are predictions and interpretations; there are visionaries who promise to lead the way, mediums who swear they are channeling voices from higher spirits that would map the course for us; every day there are more “awakened” beings offering their methods and paths of change on the internet, gathering their followers in meditation, in inquiry, in silence, in prayer, in hope. But even as they speak and we listen or we speak and they listen, what they are predicting or explaining already is and has gone. And yet, even as I write this and know it to be true, as I live this movie I call my life, I too believe the story of the change and think I can see it coming.

And then again, even “the world as we know it” has been proven inexistent. What appears to be, what seems to be changing, what even under close scrutiny looks terribly solid is not: it is, science tells us, quantum soup, nothing more than an ephemeral wave gelled into a particle by the mind’s attention. The mind? Of what mind are we speaking? Certainly not this simple one that I use so clumsily, or rather that so clumsily uses me most of the time. It would have to be The Mind in which this soup floats and is gently or violently molded into apparent being, this soup which includes me, my body, my being and the mind I consciously perceive.

So, I tell myself, there is no reason to be worried or frightened because the world as I think I know it, that world that apparently existed when I began writing this short piece, has already changed so absolutely and totally that if I were able to perceive it in this moment I might not recognize the smallest cell or atom of it. In other words, the world as I know it has never really existed so what in heaven’s name could be terrifying about it changing?

But then, that is what life is about, no? Telling ourselves the story, the story of the world as it changes, the story of the wind that blew for over two hours this afternoon and ended up finally taking the humidity away and refreshing the evening so we all may sleep a little better… or not.

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