I find hibernation a fascinating adaptation of some animals.
Turtles in particular are interesting. They can spend a huge percentage of their lives buried in mud as the world goes on above them. They go to sleep when their environment is too cold and then wake up again when it is warm enough.
While one might think humans do nothing similar, the reality is that humans also hibernate in their own way.
If we look at hibernation as simply a time of “unconsciousness,” one could argue humans spend an even larger percentage of their lives in hibernation–and with less obvious reason. While our hibernation is not typically controlled by the temperatures of our environment, it is controlled by our temperaments.
We typically do not even recognize the various methods we use to induce unconsciousness. But all the things that define us as humans can also be used to drug our senses and give us a brief respite from our preoccupation with “awareness.”
Obviously there are the kinds of unconsciousness induced by an assortment of chemicals. We even delude ourselves into thinking these drugs (from heroin to alcohol) “take us somewhere,” such that when we come back, we are in some way “different”–even enlightened. Usually it is only our wallets that are “lightened.”
For the most part, “wherever I go—there I am,” holds as true as ever.
Besides the drugs, the things we use to transport ourselves to places outside of ourselves can be as varied as the number of us there are–or have ever been. The interesting dichotomy is that it is “versions” of these very things that make us feel “alive” as well.
It is none of these experiences in themselves that is problematic but whether we remain the experiencer or become the experiencee. Who owns whom?
Many times we are not even in a position to know. I can make a strong case that it is part of the human experience to never really know for sure; and, that even hindsight cannot adequately teach us.
Some of the poisons we consume, whether chemical or psychological, cripple us so badly that we sometimes stay in hibernation our whole lives–the pond above us freezes over and never thaws. We can take comfort in the fact that we are all “recovering” from something. We are all “over-dosing” on something.
Turtles don’t worry about either waking up, or the pond not thawing.
Humans worry about both all the time and sometimes don’t wake up anyway.
Those around us can often see the truth, but many times they are viewing us from their own state of hibernation.
Obviously the 7 Deadly Sins could act as a “short-list” of some of the things that we use to both be alive and take us away from being alive–but really most anything will work just fine.
What we use to take us into hibernation today, may not necessarily work tomorrow. Moving from consciousness to unconsciousness and (hopefully) back to consciousness again is a wonderful and mysterious thing.
However, human beings are pretty dang lucky–compared to Turtles. At least–I am pretty sure that is true.
The world is still hereWhile turtles have no choice but to hibernate when it gets too cold, human beings, at least theoretically, have a choice to not go unconscious when the mood strikes them. While the frequency with which human beings exercise this choice is not great, the possibility is at least there.
With the development of the Internet, human beings have created a way for their lives to carry on in spite of their adventures into unconsciousness.
The ability to actually write something down, post it on the internet, and have IT take on a life of its own–regardless what it’s writer does–can actually work in the writer’s favor.
So while the writer may have stayed up too late partying, and is way too hung over to amount to anything at work the next day, the fact that the internet never hibernates can be very useful. Think of all the advantages of an Internet that doesn’t drink, doesn’t chase women, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t overeat, doesn’t bet on sports and truly favors no religion over another.
While we hide in the mud, the world above us stays alive above us.
It just keeps plodding along–like a turtle–even during our moments of unconsciousness.
It will still need for us to be “participatory” at some point–but it can provide a bridge over those times of hibernation.
While probably not a good idea, we can in fact hibernate for months–and the Internet keeps on working for us, more or less oblivious to our condition. It is almost as predictable as the genetics of the turtle.
Invariably the world will still be there when the turtle wakes up in the springtime.
Invariably the Internet increases the odds that our jobs will still be there when we wake up.
By Charles Buell,
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