I don’t want to alarm you, but there’s something going on, something almost beyond human comprehension, a situation so terrifying most people alive are not even aware it’s happening. And what makes it worse: it’s unavoidable.
We’re all on this ride, part of this gig, and no matter what you imagine when you think of horrible situations, none of them compare to this one. I don’t know if I’ll be able to put it into words just how insanely terrifying this condition is, but I’ll try.
A few years ago I worked with a guy who sat down one day and told me about something that worried him. It had worried him all his life and when he told me I was surprised. I wasn’t shocked because I too shared his concern and until he talked about it, I thought I was alone.
Even now when I think about it with any degree of concentration it shakes me to the marrow.
We live, we die, but the universe around us goes on. And we go on with it, in whatever form that might be: heaven, Nirvana, reincarnation. It goes on. But unlike a film, or a planet, or a sun or a galaxy, this thing never ends. Even if the universe contracts back to a singularity, everything will go on. Imagine the furthest point into the future and go beyond it, and beyond that (I’m starting to go cold as I type this), infinity is just that. Infinite. It will never end.
And this never ending infinity isn’t something in a book you’ve never read, it’s not a concept in a film you’ve never seen. It isn’t happening to someone else. It involves you. Long after the universe has grown cold, long after God has packed his suitcase and moved on, time will continue with you attached to it – in whatever form you happen to be.
This universe we occupy will never end. Our existence, the only one we have, will never end. Ever. This is it, a journey that never ends.
It’s a concept that is hard to fathom, but if you can it’s like one of those 3d images where a form suddenly appears in the pattern, standing out form the background. If you can imagine this universe at the absolute limit and then realise it continues you’ll feel the hackles rise, a slight anxiety begin to build, the slow awareness that this is something we can’t escape, can’t step off, can’t leave to someone else.
For anyone with an acute fear of infinity, it has a name: Apeirophobia.
There might well be a cure, but it doesn’t remove the reality of the situation. There is no end to this. To make sense of reality, sense of anything, there has to be a conclusion. But what we’re part of has no conclusion.
Think about it. But don’t think too hard. It isn’t pleasant or reassuring.
(title image GarlandCannon at Flickr)