There isn’t much we can do about the past, except make up stories about it, and there is little we can do about now because it goes by so quickly that it is already locked into the fixed grip of the unchangeable past, even before we observe it. My inner zombie takes care of almost all of my needs, and I often see my hand start to do something before I have decided if I am going to do that particular thing or not. It’s a weird sensation but easily observed if one watches for it. Almost always my actions begin before I command them to begin. I sometimes feel like the conscious I is just going along for the experience of staying with my body; it’s like watching a TV program that was recorded weeks ago and everything is just being played out as planned even earlier before the actors spoke their lines, by the script writers and producers. It seems what my consciousness is for is to pay close attention to the reality that plays out before my eyes and ears so that my zombie can react more appropriately. I wonder to what degree my attempt to analyze what will happen in the future is determined by my thinking conscious self and what part is just my zombie working through its mostly self-created scenarios.
I am not a zombie! I think and feel in the moment every bit as much as everyone else, and the only difference is that I write about this easily observed sensation while everyone else, myself included most of the time, doesn’t observe the automatic behavior, driven by my inner beings. It isn’t a mistake to make these observations or to write that I have these experiences, because it offers other people the opportunity to make the observations themselves which they previously didn’t see, or at least didn’t become aware of what they were seeing. It’s like the fish in water or birds in the air — they work and react with their reality and never really perceive it, because their attention is coping with other things.
This is the scientific method in its most basic form — to make a strange observation, to speculate on it for a while and observe if it happens again in a predictable way, then to describe as clearly as possible to oneself the observations and then to make a statement about how these things were observed and then write it up as clearly as possible for others to corroborate and to make their own observations; and then, perhaps the most difficult thing of all for some people, to let the observation and the ideas that come from it move on into the general knowledge of humanity. Others will take a good observation and do unexpected things with it, which are perhaps unsavory.
Some ideas are very grand and general and probably not very important to our personal lives, like my zombie observation, and other extremely specific observations are made to fantastic accuracy, like pi to 5,000 decimal places when pi=3.14159265 stretched around the Earth would be so near a straight line that good quality surveying instruments couldn’t detect the deviation of the last decimal point. For some purposes calling the circumference of a circle 3 times the diameter is good enough and for some purposes, like interplanetary travel, nine significant places isn’t quite good enough. But, in most people’s worlds we operate in those in-between accuracies.
Some ideas are too general to bother with and some are too specific to bother with most of the time, and it is the realm in between that we must concern ourselves with in our daily lives, in our work and in our relationship with the world. We live in a world of many confusions and uncertainties, and it is important to base our critical life decisions in the areas of certainty and yet to explore outside into the uncertainties when the risk of being wrong isn’t game ending.
Explore safe things with your hands and the dangerous darkness with a very long stick.