Thoughts in Lizard Standard Time
three weeks and counting on sabbatical from New York City
Where folks are comfortable day-to-day, time dissolves. More challenging lives, otoh, bring a heightened awareness of time. All to say, one’s POV on past, present, and future are triangulated around how one senses the passage of time, which is a function of one’s material existence.
Being young and set-for-life affords the opportunity to think beyond tomorrow. To plan. To architect a destiny. The more well-off you are, the further-off you can live in the future. Kardashians and their ilk, like it or not, as a consequence of their wealth (and the work to preserve it), are pretty much in control of their fate.
The hard life, on the other hand, grounds folks in time-space that does not afford looking beyond tomorrow. And that’s if they’re lucky. Often in a desperate, defensive life, the down-n-out can’t afford to look beyond dinner.
Struggle, however, often leads to the strength and creativity that fuels survival. This is petty consolation, perhaps, but what keeps you alive is not the same as what lets you live. In a perfect world, survival is a foundation; living is a reward. In survival mode, you do today only what gets you to tomorrow. Then you get up and do it again. If you forget how, or lose your skills - it’s over.
So yeah, a life of adversity is rough (obv). The now - every moment - becomes a never-ending event horizon; the future, a black hole. It’s easy to get bitter about the past if quantum uncertainty is your only reality. Having no future casts you into a life of circular reference. In the end, your memories become some of the only things you can control.
In spaces where affluent folks are in retirement, like Valencia Bay (from where I write now), hardship is flipped on its ear. Indulge this thought: A rough life of toil and a retired life of leisure each, in their own way, offer no need to think beyond tomorrow. So they’re kinda the same. Except, ofc, a leisure-laden life’s never centered on survival, only on living.
You don’t have to think about tomorrow in places like “The Bay,” because today is always already taken care of. People here are reaping the fruits of lifetimes of labor. Today is the tomorrow they devised with success.
Tomorrow has no utility in the dream Floridian life. No one needs the future here, because it never has to happen; nothing really needs to change. Folks may want it to, but no matter. They’ll be ok either way.
I’ve spent a lot of time in The Bay the last couple years. The lack of urgency to the future is a seduction, and the days kinda blend into each other. Yesterday and today accordion into a temporal slurry, and you lose track of anything further out than maybe a week or a month.
It’s a lulling place.
The common thread in states of existence that tame the future’s uncertainty, is a blissful letting go of linearity. There is no cause and effect if you control your future. Your horizon elongates into outer space. The weight comes off a lot of decisions where consequences are feather-light.
Time ceases to pass where it moves at the rate of you. Time becomes like wind. You glide in time’s jet stream, unaware of your speed, only your direction.
The ultimate luxury of our age is not a material good, but the ability to live in the now, separate from any past and inured against the future. The reward is an effortless stillness of pure existence - to live free from time. To live as the wind.
The closest I’ve come to living as the wind was on a hot-air balloon flight in 2004. Floating in a basket with Catherine and around 7 of her crew-mates from the film The Matador, we rose 10000ft over San Miguel de Allende, and drifted across the central highlands of Mexico for an hour or so.
The flight wasn’t silent, per se, but there was a large absence of sound where machinery would otherwise be, thousands of feet up. You’re suspended in the sky by air, and it’s beyond quiet. Becoming the wind envelopes you in “silence,” the concept, separate from its maddening anechoic reality.
You’re moving, but you don’t sense it. There’s equal stillness as you are carried by winds at increasing speeds as you ascend. You’re inside the wind, so there’s no roaring or whipping or buffeting. The only sounds are a quiet drone-whoosh of a light breeze, the soft luffs of balloon materials, and gentle creaks of the wicker basket joints, all punctuated by the balloon pilot’s quick propane-flame bursts from the heater.
Time slowed up there. It felt superhuman ngl.
Lizards carry eons of knowledge, but they survive by cementing themselves in the now. Reptiles are conjectured to slow time - a la Matrix Neo or Michael Jordan, in mid-air dodging bullets or Supersonics. An instant to an iguana could be, like, 10 seconds to you and me.
I guess they’re not really slowing time, so much as processing their visual input at a ridiculously high frame rate. Still, imagine splicing that lizard’s sweet temporal manipulation genome into your own double-helix, and then seeing at 2400 frames per second. You could catch flies with your tongue, or even return Andy Roddick’s serve. Everything.. would… jussst…. sllooowww….. dddooowwwnnnn……
Btw, the title of the Nature blog on evolution from the mid-10s linked to above was perfect: “Accumulating Glitches.”
The implication in the blog’s name is that you and me are evolved in place. That, transhumanism aside, we’re evolving as a species in real time, at the mercy of time, and out of our control, and that imperfections drive evolution as much (or more) than the striving for a “perfect” species.
We are a collective snapshot of evolution’s current release, of all “accumulated glitches” up to now. Any “advancements” we make to our nature are incremental on a geologic scale. AI and AR and Neurolink and all these extra-conscious “enhancements” we invent, are just mid-release updates. A decimal, not a new version. I’ve no idea the release number we’re at, fwiw. We could be at Humanity 54.6 or 1.3, or even Humanity3000 who knows.
We’re probably the first humans, tho, to tweak and prompt (and tempt) the next glitch. So there’s that.
At the same time, the notion we are evolving faster or better by participating in our own evolution only leads back to absurdist questions:
Faster or better than what? How can you tell?
Best fish sandwich Cat & I have ever eaten. Smoked mahi, in a deft batter, fried off into reverie on a bun. Everything else we tried at Tropical Smokehouse in West Palm Beach was stellar, too. 10/10 would eat again.
20231202.1030: Swank Sunflowers / Swank Produce, Loxahatchee, FL
Here in Florida, for the most part, the sunshine is free, and shines down in equal amounts on the rich and poor. Say what you want about the state’s governance, no one lacks for daylight. People get angry like they do everywhere, but no one seems to stay angry. The sun don’t let that happen.
Be the wind at your back: