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The Been There & Done That Phenomenon

Shots of Awe by Jason Silva

So one of the things that happens when we grow older, with our nodding resignation into nothingness, is that, we enter a kind of consciousness known as ‘the been there’s and done that’s’ of an adult mind. It’s that notion when nothing excites or overwhelms anymore, because you’ve seen it all before. What a tragedy this is, right?

I mean, we all remember nostalgically the intensity of experiencing something for the first time, seeing the world through the eyes of child, wonder struck, entranced by awe. Succumbing to astonishment, giving in to astonishment, mouth gaped wide, I mean damn to see something for the first time. But then what happens, you assimilate, you model it in your brain, you store it in your library of ‘been there’s and done that’s’ and you no longer engage.

Sensorial with stimuli, it’s called hedonic adaptation. Familiarity breeds boredom. It’s very much depressing. I think this is where mindful self inquiry comes in. This is where meditation, breathing exercises and yoga comes in. This is where boarding a craft that flies you across the world can be therapeutic like to injecting you with a little bit of life by stimulating you, jet-lagging you and placing you with an entirely different wallpaper of the mind.

That’s why travel revitalizes. It’s why people self medicate. Sometimes tweaking our perception, sometimes that marijuana joint, can be the magnifying lens or the pane of glass that doesn’t distort reality but confers our phenomenon, a certain feeling of distance.

Perhaps that’s why a museum takes an ordinary item and puts it on the wall, de-contextualizes it, and brings our attention back to it.

We get to enter the archetypical space where the specific stands in for all of its kind and for the reversal. We like to enter a modality of consciousness known as Plato’s Realm of ideas. I mean, that’s where you live in the present. That’s when anxiety about the future and melancholy for the past get drowned out by the ever present rapture of the now. And we are free.

In that moment we are Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Knowing no death, knowing only now and the bliss of now. If only we could get back there. I support whatever works, as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.

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