Seen from far enough away the details of everyday life evaporate and you are left with only a view of the loops that make up our existence. Loops here means automatic repetitious actions. These can be natural like the rotation of the planets, or learned behaviors like always driving the same route to work so you don’t have to waste time thinking about it.
Think about all the things you do automatically each day. You turn on the light, grab your toothbrush, put the tooth paste on, brush and wash it off — do you really think about these actions each time you do them? More likely actions like these are programmed into your brain by this point and just happen automatically. Try going through a day sometime and really think about every single little decision you need to make — it’s exhausting. The loops are here to help, but are they really helping us?
Even from outer space the earth is nothing but an endless series of these loops. The sun rises, the sun sets. At a closer distance we can see each city wake up with activity during the day, and fall quiet at night. From across the street you see the lights turn on, somebody leaves to go to work, they come back, the lights turn off.
LOOPS AND THE INDIVIDUAL
These patterns of both nature and humanity are pervasive. They are the natural state of everything, loops. Try this thought experiment, imagine you could open a door in your wall and view into the life of any random person at any random point in their existence, at any time in history. Now imagine you had a team of researchers open this door and write down what they saw. Again and again, thousands of time you could repeat this. What do you think will be written in this notebook?
Sleeping maybe, or brushing teeth? Probably a lot of “They were going to the bathroom”. Maybe washing dishes? Mundane things like this make up the bulk of our existence. How likely are you to open this door and see a couple saying their wedding vows, or the birth of a child, or any of these significant moments in our lives. Very unlikely, in fact we would argue it is all but impossible for you to encounter those things given how rarely they truly happen.
LOOPS AND our society
It’s pretty easy to see the loops when you think about them through an experiment like that. However, they don’t just happen to us, to individuals. These same loops are happening at a societal level, often driven by the emotional network that connects everyone. If you instead open this door and witness a random event from Human history — what would you see most often?
War, or just general fighting would likely be the most common thing to see. Taking a historical view, our times of peace are few and far between compared to our times of war. Even periods that seem quite peaceful at first may be supported by horrible evils. If you open the door into a southern plantation owner’s home around 1840 it might look quite peaceful at first glance. Similarly if you open the doors onto the Mongolian empire in the late 13th century it would look very peaceful as well.
Our societies go through loops just like we do and for a lot of the same reasons. We get lazy, we fall into habits, maybe voting for the same political party our parents did without really thinking things through. Over time that habitualness of the individual turns into a habit for the society. This effect is always delayed too far for us to see it in the moment, but open any history book and the patterns are plain as day.
Making sense of this
So what is going on here, why do we have this apparent incongruity between the laziness of the individual and the energetic chaos that is our history. Lazy people don’t start wars, yet time and time again we find ourselves fighting in wars.
In the philosophical concept of Maya we are all gods playing at being human because we got bored of our godhood. We separate ourselves and live out these human lives, using ego to drive us towards new experiences. But, taking care of these bodies is a lot of effort, brushing our teeth is boring, much better to push that down to the level of habit so we can get on with the important bits of living right?
This is what Ego is for, it is hiding the mundane in loops so you can more closely experience the novel, the new. Try a new food, visit a new place, talk to a new person, new experiences are what our ego craves. What happens if your ego gets bored of even these experiences? Maybe seeking power over another ego would be fun to try. We could nominate certain egos to have the power to make rules that other egos must follow, there could be a contest to decide which ego gets the job each year.
Eventually an ego rises too far, tries too many things and still needs something more. From here is where chaos is born. This ego shows the others that the rules don’t really matter and that it is ok to hurt or even kill these other egos over there. They are the bad egos after all, for whatever reason is convenient this time. Other egos see how “fun” this all can be and now we are embroiled in chaos again.
Few resist as they are too busy brushing their teeth or washing the dishes. After all, those other egos all have guns and we’d rather not rock the boat.
Stopping the loops
We have bad news. You cannot stop the loops. Religions have tried to identify the cause of these loops, we name it “Satan” or “Kalika” or maybe “Narcissism” depending on which religion you subscribe to. They try to teach their followers a way out through prayer or mindfulness. Yet these religions go on to become the worst offenders of all time by any measure. Religion will not protect you from this, and certainly will not stop the loops.
Only a thoughtful effort at the individual level can really begin to stop this. Resist the habits in your life, make a habit of breaking habits. We never wake up at the same time and it infuriates Aunty, our alarm is set to some random number around the time we should wake up instead. 8:37 one day, 8:26 the next, 8:49 the next. We test the limits of our loops by taking them away consciously. Drive a different route to the dentist this time, don’t wear that shirt with those pants, walk on the other side of the street today.
These are small efforts but they can go a long way. They remind us daily of the tyranny of habit that is this universe. We can use this knowledge to then break the loops of those around us, again in a deliberate fashion. We see the checkout clerk at the grocery ask each person in front of us how their day went, nobody asked them, so we ask. We see another man walking down the street in a cool shirt, so we tell them, oh the horror of this weirdo giving out random same-gender compliments on the street.
We use our psychedelic events as ways to break the bigger loops in our life. The loops that we fall into as a couple living the same days with Aunty for so long. By going to a different place and doing a different thing we are already breaking the cycle. This gives us a chance to reflect on the loops we’ve established in that time and come out of the experience with changes we choose to make.
“The people who come back from these songs are the people we’re choosing to be”Aunty Lucy from A Grueling Hike or How to be a Good Trip Sitter
Imagine what would happen if we could perform this trick at the societal level. If we could just have everyone stop being who they are, just for a moment, and think about who they really want to be. A focused effort at a societal level may be a way to stop the loops forever. Nobody really wants to go and die in a war after all.
For now, stick to what you can change and what you can control. Find the loops in your own life and break the ones you don’t like. Then with your new-found eyes help the people around you to start breaking theirs.
Oh, and if you are still wondering, Déjà Vécu means “Already Lived”, it is similar to the phrase you likely know: Déjà Vu, meaning “Already Seen”.