It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling.
Read it out loud, this beautiful excerpt may sound familiar, it is from the utopian novel called Island, told by even more beautiful mind of Aldous Huxley.
I know I need to read it once again because I think I would have much more use from it (if I may say so) now than I did 4 or 5 years ago. I think about all those books that I read a long time ago and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy them or understand them, it’s just that it may have been too soon.
One of our crazy high school teachers actually made some sense when he said that he agrees that making a bunch of 17-year-olds read Marcel Proust’s Combray in a short period and then expect them to identify with the novel’s main subject – the passing of time, is ridiculous. Proust was obsessed with destructive effect time has on people, events and relationship, an obsession worth having if you ask me now, but what the fuck does a kid in high school have to do with that?
The only thing that happens after reading Proust when you’re that young is deciding you don’t want to have anything to do with his work ever again. Ten years later, I still remember how unbelievably confusing Combray was, even though I didn’t hate it as much as most of my peers. Ten years later, I haven’t yet decided it’s time to go back to it and continue reading the remaining six volumes, more than 4 000 pages aptly named In Search of Lost Time. I still have time to lose before I start feeling really bad about it, at least that’s what I’m counting on.
Huxley’s Island on the other hand acts as a sedative, but not a mind numbing kind, it slows down time in an enlightening way. If you compare the cruel, frightening reality of Brave New World and Buddhist influences on Island – his last novel, it makes me happy that Huxley didn’t get more scared and worried as he got old and sick as if it’s somehow expected from an average modern mind’s point of view.
The key to being lucid and painfully aware of everything that is wrong (is dystopia our reality?) while making peace with your current state without feeling powerless or out of focus is of course not yet known to me, the path is, I believe, somewhere between Proust’s melancholia and fragility and Huxley’s spiritual philosophy, often enhanced by psychedelic drugs he started experimenting with in the 1950s.
A couple of days ago I learned what his last moments were like, which made me like him even more, not because of ‘wow, he’s so cool’ factor, but because I think it represents a great mind fully embracing everything that is happening. The decaying body does not equal a decaying mind.
On his deathbed, unable to speak due to advanced laryngeal cancer, Huxley made a written request to his wife Laura for “LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular”.
There are things known
and there are things
and in between are
the doors of perception.