I woke this morning out of dreams into what we call Reality, into the daylight, the furniture of my familiar bedroom—in fact into the well-known, often-discussed, but, to my mind, as yet unexplained Universe.
Then I, who came out of the Eternal Silence and seem to be on my way thither, got up and spent the day as I usually spend it. I read, I pottered, I complained, and took exercise; and I sat punctually down to eat the cooked meals that appeared at regular intervals.
— Logan Pearsall Smith, All Trivia: A Collection of Reflections & Aphorisms
I woke this morning, as I often do, with a strange self-consciousness of my own mortality. I’m alive! One day, I won’t be! I briefly thought about how fortunate it is that we don’t simply lose all our memories while we sleep and awaken as total strangers to ourselves. As usual, my mind stalled upon attempting to make the cessation of consciousness an object of conscious reflection. A short while later, I opened Smith’s book and read this aphorism, which gave me an eerie feeling of standing in front of an infinity mirror. After that, I was happy to work, exercise, and punctually partake of my meals. Smith seems to imply that this reversion to the habitual mean is some sort of moral or philosophical failing. I disagree. I concur with Nietzsche: deep problems are best approached like cold baths — quickly in, quickly out.