On my 65th birthday, someone asked how it felt to be 65, and I couldn’t think of anything like a concise answer. How could I summarize the current state of my existence? The more I thought about it, the more challenging it seemed, because it actually seemed to be asking, “How do you summarize 65 years of life?” Anything I might say would fall far short of covering all the experiences of those years, much less convey any sense of conclusion, of a rounded whole.
All our experiences are woven together in the brain to create a working model of the world and ourselves in it, but the limitations of conscious thought make it impossible to see the end result as a whole. Our current environment cues the brain to bring into consciousness those models which seem relevant in the present moment, and all the rest of our lives and memories disappear in quiescence. Conscious thought cannot encompass the entirety of our selves or our place in the world–that is not its evolved function–and so we are left with glimpses of patches of our limited reality.
It occurred to me that I might go through my memories, lay them all out, and see if they held together in any way; if there was some kind of all-encompassing coherence. This is the beginning of that exploration…
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