12 ~ In an Instant (a rambling exploration of the act of reflection in the digital age)
In an instant, I burst forth into the world. Where I arrived from and how I came to be, I couldn’t quite say, but it was as if I had been completely curled up with my feet all tucked under me and both elbows on a thigh and the curl of my hand holding up my head, and then I blinked — a very sudden spontaneous blink from out of nowhere — and a curtain lifted from my view, and I opened my eyes to see for myself that, yes, there I was, all newly born into the fully developed, now-lithe now-curvy now-tiny now-robust body of a 20-some-year-old, yet wobbling about on my legs and feet like an infant on its hands and knees, and jerking my head left and right in an immediate and messy attempt to find context here, in this place where I was born, a place called the Orientation-In-an-Instant Center. At least that’s what the sign promised the place would provide, but at first glance, I found no evidence to suggest that the promise of conveying immediate understanding had been upheld at all. There were signs everywhere and things to touch and things to poke and other things to zap and somehow vaporize into. At least that was how it seemed. But despite all the arrows pointing here and there and criss-crossing like a street side signpost that called out by name all the spokes on a bicycle wheel as it lay on its side and spun itself into circles, I found myself admiring the Orientation-in-an-Instance Center for at least trying to be the one place that even made an attempt to provide some kind of perspective to the chaos that — as the immediate word in the sim had it — lay in impatient wait for those very fresh of all newborns — those immediately born like me — to explore. Still maybe there might be the possibility of a future instant, of a future moment of reflection. But that moment of reflection wasn’t now. Because now was now. And now again. And again and again and again, until…
In another instant, there was a mosh pit that looked more like a tightly etched alley whose sides were all squared off by walls that crumbled into poles that tangled onto slabs of broken concrete and yawned back up and out to the world through the mouths of graffit’d rusty empty barrels that looked as though at one time or another they must have carried some important things of great value but now the empty tattooed barrels lay on their sides stacked in disorderly bunches like a careless heaping and flinging of a herbal bouquet plucked fresh from a spice garden, laying as unmoved and as uninvolved as historic pillars with little surprise found in the present because they held onto onto a deep sense of knowing of the past that rose from the ground unrebuked as if pushed up by a time long since passed, a time that long ago resolved itself not to be left behind. And instead of containers to transport precious items like fineries or spices or golds or grains or legacies, the rusty barrels now bore the burden of a gaggle of warm tushies from a throng of cat people creatures who sprawled in a languid manner on the barrels without a care or concern even as the containers angled precariously into the air and jostled with the tangle of pipes, while all the while elevating that pack of what must have been experienced cat people who twitched their tails in opposing rhythm to the flickering of their ears at every near-immediate sound that presented itself. How a band came to appear on a catwalk along one of the edges of the mosh pit, I couldn’t say, but it did and from it a singer sang songs of things and people and experiences that must have been connected to some other time because the singer sang it now as if not truly understanding the meaning — this has to be so, because she lived only in an Instant — now that moment had passed, only *this* Instant…but it had passed again, and the singer ran to catch each moment in a panic even as she crooned out lyrics from a time that had long since passed but still she tried her best to reach back into the long tail of all things that had come before even the time when she herself had arrived and she tried her best to do so by summoning up all the emotion that she carried on the tip of her breath so she could lay it all out and spread it all on each chord like globs of icing on a cake only to hope that in this Instant — now that moment had passed, she hoped that now in *this* moment…but it had passed again even as she ran frantically to catch up with each fleeting instant yet she still hoped that somewhere in some moment she would hit the right note of a time and a story and an intention borne from a different age even though she would admit to you and to everyone within earshot that she had no sense of it all since she was fully a creature of the Instant, and as if in agreement, the ears of the nimble cat people found themselves twitching in opposing rhythm and hinting in acknowledgement with the singer’s own admission that they also had no sense at all of what those stories and places and purposes could all be about. But maybe in a future instant, maybe the singer and the throng of cat people creatures and everyone else listening to the band would find a moment of reflection to try to understand the significance of what they heard before the commented on it. But that moment of reflection wasn’t now. Because now was now. And now again. And again and again and again, until…
In another instant, I gazed into the reflection of a mirror and saw my face with wide eyes gazing fixedly back at me and all at once I heard the rules of the world quietly inform me that I was expected by some collective pressure to know throughout my life’s course without a moment’s hesitation the depth and multitude of exactly all of who I was, exactly what I believed, exactly how I fit into the world, exactly what path my life would take, exactly how I would shape that path and the path of others hopefully for the better, how I would handle anything I was unsure of and how I would learn and share anything I was sure of, exactly how I would grow and the impact I would have on others, exactly how I would not be defined by these rules of the world and at the same time exactly how I would keep my heart and mind open and not hold myself a prisoner to my own self-righteousness. Oh my indeed but the world that quietly spelled out these life requirements spoke in riddles most of the time if you asked me or in a language I didn’t always understand at other times, and always with rules that seemed mightly steeped in a cultural self-righteousness, but I couldn’t say where or when the culture was that had collectively designed the riddles, had collectively created the language, or had collectively pressed into form the architecture of that self-righteousness so that every claim of “‘Tis So!” would hinge and lock so completely to every other claim of “Tis this Way and No Other Way!” until all at once I stood silentely before what I thought was my own reflection in the mirror but suddenly realized the vision I gazed upon might more accurately be a reflection of the rules of the world, and then suddenly I sang with a voice that came into my lungs from a source other than my own, from a time other than what I had known, from a meaning other than one I understood, and even though The Voice wasn’t of my own lungs and the time wasn’t of my place and the form wasn’t of my features and the original meaning was something a bit beyond me, I still felt myself standing in this present moment full into my own legs and I still heard The Voice percolating in my airways surging forward as if propelled by a force of understanding from some place within me irrespective of the fact that I hadn’t yet lived the experience of creating this song and I hadn’t yet lived the experience of reflecting on it much at all before an inspiration to write it made its presence known, but not to me because the Muse whispered the song’s inspiration to someone else in another time and another place to create, and still yet I heard the words as they poured in proclamations as if they had originally poured both through my heart and my mind and my very fingertips and through my lips: I travelled each and every highway. But more. Much more than this. I did it my way.”
In an instant, an unending assault of micro-montages made up from videos and words and characters and images and sounds hurled themselves into the digital air waves and sight waves and mind waves as “Enter” keys clicked and clacked in a rapid staccato that travelled the world at faster than lightspeed as if the urgency to communicate in not only an Instant but in *every* Instant travelled on the heels of a pair of New York City sized stilletto shoes that were worn with shredded stockings and that delivered the instantaenousness of ideas mingled with both sophisticated views, gritty views, advanced reservation views, drive through ordering views, curbside and taxi side views, pedestrian views, high flying views, and everything in between. In this instance, every Instant was a holiday, a Communication Thanksgiving Instant with a gluttony of now information, now rambling, now provocation, now drama, now evocation, now noise, now playfulness, now exploration, now sharing, now consuming piled high on the overburdened tables of social media platforms. I sat at the edge, near the kids table feeling the cat curl against my leg and the dog press the side of his sprawled-on-the-floor body onto the top of my feet. I reached for the side dishes, the fast and tasty witticisms that tended to be passed furiously around the table from hand to hand because they tasted so good, because they were so quick and dirty and easy to pop into your mouth without much thought at all, in fact without any thought at all and in fact in no time at all those tasty morsels seemed to disappear from the dishes after all who sat at the table took their fill three or four or five times and waited with great expectation for the host and hostess to replenish the now empty bowls of witticisms which they kindly always did and which then prompted the renewed fury of passing the side dishes around the table at lightening speed yet again…and well, like everyone at the party I consumed as much as I could take in, leaning at first into the table with an eagerness to have a voice at the table, then leaning straight over and onto the table for support in an effort to forestall the feeling that my gut was soon going to bust, in an effort to take in a breath if not another zippy bitesize morsel from the ever growing sidedishes that seemed to be multiplying on their own, in an effort to save some room for the main course which would require much more thoughtful respect and more delightful attention to ingest…but after having absorbed as much of the fast and furious side dishes that I could possibly glutton myself on, I finally push myself from the table if only for a moment and waddle over to the couch where I instantly sprawl out in an effort to breathe, in an effort to stretch out my system, if only for another moment, if only for an instant, only to find that my system instantly drifts into sleep.
And I awaken…in yet another instant, suddenly finding myself seated on a boulder with my elbow on my thigh, my chin in my curled fist, my brow furrowed in contemplation as if in wait of…in wait of an instant…and then it happened that instant of birth and being and loving and feeling and growing and sharing and consuming and expressing and journeying in the entirety of that full-bodied instant I watched in amazement as my life flashed before my eyes. And I marvelled at the full glory of its 140 characters.
Nanowrimo10 total word count: 2,200. Total wordcount to date: 34,970 of 50,000 (not including this notation). This is turning into national novel writing half-year for me. And with the way RL work has been, it could very well be that it takes a couple more months for me to write the final 16,000 (approx) words, but I will write them.