Anyone who has spent any time online, trying to be understood, knows that we’re well past the Rush to Judgment phase in this round of evolutionary upheavals. And by that I don’t mean we’ve somehow figured it all out, learned to listen, to chill, to take deep breaths before we respond. We’re in a post-Rush era in the sense that those were the good old days compared with now. There’s no real rush to judgment any longer, because that would require at least some kind of interval before we pounce, flail away, and otherwise act like crazy people who really need to switch to decaf. It’s virtually instantaneous these days, largely in keeping with technologies that overwhelm us with milliseconds between Ask and Get. And we humans really weren’t built for that kind of (input-output) speed, nor were we built to handle all the new data swamping us and making us half-crazy, 24/7.
In reality, we were built for a relatively slow-paced life, communal and cooperative in nature, not one driven by the commodification of every aspect of the life-realm. We weren’t built with price tags in mind. There is nothing more unnatural to our species than artificial constructs like marketing, sales, and the continuous (re)invention of stuff we supposedly, desperately need — especially given our ability to do just fine without those items the day, month, year, or generation before their arrival.
I think a large part of this simmering panic, this belief that we just can’t survive another second without item X, Y, or Z, is rooted in a dilemma unique to human beings (as far as we know): our deep-seated recognition of our own mortality. That recognition impacts pretty much everything we do on some level, directly or indirectly, consciously or subconsciously.
To make a 300,000-year-old story shorter, it all comes down to how we cope with this fact of our transient natures. The main problem for “modern” human beings, however, is that we were built to cope with our short time on earth primarily via communal settings, together, cooperatively. But our current systems isolate and separate us (to cope on our own), via those artificial constructs like money, marketing, 9-5 jobs, and the stuff we “need“ to buy. This can’t help but make us half-mad, at least on a sub-conscious level.
Which sends me back to the Arts. Short of a serious redo on a systemic level, the Arts offer up perhaps the most inclusive forms of coping we have, plus the best vehicles to escape miscommunication and flash judgments. Music, art, novels and so on can cut through the densest fog like a knife through sweet, soft butter.
Once, long ago and far away, I sang in a Karaoke bar, and my song of choice that night was Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” Readers may remember that I had the pleasure of singing with his band in the previous century, and that moment was on my mind when I launched my amazing, perfectly brilliant rendition. But I didn’t expect the reaction I got, and that reaction was so spontaneous, pure, and surprising, I’ll never forget it.
Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl”
Two young women rushed to the dance floor, smiling from ear to ear, looking at me and pointing to their big eyes, which must have been brown. It was really too dark to be sure, but that’s a pretty good bet. They were positively giddy because of that song, and for a brief flash in time, I had “groupies” and we were on the same exact wavelength.
It still warms the cockles of my heart to think about that scene from my past, those layers upon layers of simple, basic, well-earned emotions, and the song that sent me there and not there, into infinity.