After all of that, what happened next really should have happened on a mountaintop or in a redwood forest. Instead, it happened in a movie theater, of all places. It wasn’t even a particularly good movie. I guess we don’t get to choose the time and place of our epiphanies. Of course, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. I had been primed for it by everything that had happened over the last year.
The climax of the movie, Lucy, was a Kubrick-esque montage of images in which the heroine connects with her ancestral primate past and then with the physical universe as whole. It triggered something in me, and as I walked out of the theater, I had an intense feeling of both our infinitesimal insignificance and our inestimable consequence as a species. I felt both of radical dissociation from the everyday concerns of my life and of deep responsibility to the Earth and to universe as a whole.
I also slowly became aware, over the coming days and weeks, that the ever-present anxiety about my own death was not so ever-present. I’m not saying I was suddenly careless when crossing the street, or that I was unconcerned about what would happen to my kids if I died prematurely. But I no longer experienced each moment like a stopwatch running backward. And I felt that one day I might actually be able embrace my own death.
I wish I could say that I have held onto that vision, that I didn’t eventually lapse back into old patterns of thinking, old fears. But I can still feel it there, that sense of being a part of something so vast that my fears are dwarfed by it. I can feel the edges of it, waiting there to be reclaimed, and I can feel the fear loosen its grip on me again.