This too shall pass, but it’ll take longer if you write it down
I used to think the older I got, the fewer bad decisions I would make. But really, I just know when I’m making a bad decision sooner.
When I was with my ex, we didn’t have a lot to talk about, and I wanted to watch a lot of TV shows so we could have something to do together without actually having to directly interact, but we’d also get some more shared vocabulary since we lived together and didn’t have much new conversation to add while apart. She also smoked a lot of weed, which meant I had to smoke a lot of weed, too. Or, a lot for me, anyhow.
And I enjoyed the shows stoned because it’s easy for cartoons to be brighter or comedies to be funnier or drama to seem better-crafted when your brain is enjoying media with a renewed appreciation of novelty, is enjoying them more than when sober. But afterward, it was much harder to remember the individual episodes or overarching plot or running jokes, or really much of anything in particular about them. They were transitory experiences, getting my consciousness from here to there thru time but not having much of an effect on its decision-making in the future. Experiences set outside of recursion far enough to hardly be called experience.
Memories can be seen as drifting through space-time, capturing some of the sensory data of a moment approximating the present to be reconstructed by consciousness later for a sensation that resembles the original. In the future, we’ll surely have the technology to do this literally. Have a portable MRI on at all times while recording for a day, a week, or a decade, then keep watch for one pattern in particular lighting up. You could identify each new memory recalled or created then match the pattern to a time and GPS coordinates to show when and where it was thereafter triggered.
Religious ideas and common superstitions would pop up and trace around the longest, I bet. Or maybe some racist joke. Or a great sexual experience for masturbatory material and reliable climax thought to add spice to the present. Enduring ones can be retransmitted so that some approximation of, with some connection to, the original sensation can reproduce inside other people’s minds. We could even measure how accurately empathetic people are capable of being.
In that way, recreational drug use, like weed but also addicting games & apps, are only enjoyable in that moment. It’s all used up in itself with none left over to re-transmit into the future. And the blip would never make a pattern to be repeated.
Reading a book, having adventures, learning a trade—all extend your life because it gives you of yourself you can preserve for later. Maybe that’s the whole value of having children. To suffer and be miserable a little while but be able to look back on offspring and say, ‘See? I reproduced that right there.’
Stuff that repeats keeps repeating. The meaning of life is to keep repeating because the best ones at it are the ones that did it. Later, more information could be repeated beyond amino acid orders, and some of it has been effective repeating as memories, as stories told with a moral, as bits of gossip or a riddle or a bawdy pun.
Having a pleasant transitory experience feels good as it happens, but it doesn’t repeat itself and disappears. Which goes back to the whole Tibetan Buddhist thing that everything changes, everything disappears, and your life is a mandala sandpainting you struggle over for ages only to be immediately wiped away when finished.
But maybe with life lived and recognized, life described in writing or some other medium, the seed of you can germinate again, brought back somewhere else or years after death to repeat some more. A book or phrase or pun is something like a child, something to keep producing a portion of you.