Discovering filters late in the game, I am all agog.
Do you ever wake up with an intense dream that fills your morning with a rather bizarre metaphysical tone about it? I know - I studied philosophy - so I am not sure if I am alone - but I have a hunch that most of us have had this experience - if not once - then quite possibly a hundred times, even more.
It goes like this. It is a particular kind of dream. I wake up and I am seized by a memory from my childhood. I am in the backseat of the car on the way to swimming practice. Or I am a kindergartner turned around in my chair looking at mom in the back of the classroom. Or I am being stung by honeybees on a Summer vacation to Pass Christian, Mississippi.
The memory has a connection to the dream but it is not the content. The memory springs from the dream. The dream is often abstract. A silhouette of a man. An empty room that needs to be swept. I wake up and I am seized by the memory. What follows next is melancholy. I become so sad because the memories seem so far away from the current moment. Who was that person sitting in the back seat of the car? I can remember myself in the car but I cannot occupy the self of that person - of that other individual who is me but because either it was so long ago I cannot rewind the moment - or that I have become so different from that kid on his way to swimming practice that I can only archive the memory rather than inhabit it.
What follows the memory is a sharp intonation of mortality. I realize that I will die and I am again saddened by the passage of time. I know. It sounds morose. And it is cliché to say - "We're going to die." But I think when you feel your mortality in the morning after you wake up from this kind of memory sensation it heightens the feeling. It is more intense.
What follows is I think about how I am alive right now with many other people who are alive who share my timeline. People who were born at the same time as me; also, those people who were already alive and I have merely joined in - late for the party. Or, those who have recently joined us here on earth to have cake.
It's like the whole human race is a collection of dim lights that go on and off slowly - seen from above it would look like a slow-motion version of an air traffic controller's control board. As each light brims into existence, its light glows slowly to a fierce yellow then dissipates. But other lights are also coming in and out of existence. Once the light is gone it is gone forever. And there is not much variation - except the duration - because one light may brighten longer than another.
It's probably because I have spent the weekend reading Faulkner. Like at the end of The Sound and the Fury, Luster takes Benjy on a furious ride around the Compton plantation on the family's horse and buggy - but very fast and in the direction Benjy is not used to taking. When Luster goes left - instead of right - Benjy groans and moans - roars! - and there is a horrific sense of the order of the world turned over. Of course, order is restored in the end and the world becomes "serene again as cornice and façade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place."
It's like how at school kids always sit in the same place at lunch. Or how a broken clock can send a sharp sense of anxiety even in the most sensible of person. Or the feeling of dread when someone walks across the street and is almost hit by a careening bicycle. Composure is rattled. Like my morning awakenings. But with time everything regains composure and I am once again enveloped in the rhythm of the turning world.