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The sheer terror of being alone with our thoughts

The sheer terror of being alone with our thoughts

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We spend much of our lives trying to flee the inescapable fact of our own finitude — and it's much easier to do so amidst a swarm of buzzing distractions

But there are also moments when the truth reveals itself to us. This happens in certain moods, among them anxiety and boredom, when a dawning awareness of the groundlessness of our ordinary, everyday pursuits transfigures the world. When that happens we grasp as we otherwise rarely do that our lives are lived hovering over an abyss that at some level we know with complete certainty will eventually — perhaps a mere moment from now — swallow us whole, along with everything we've ever cared about.

Nothingness: that is what we're trying to wave away when we reach for our phones in line at the grocery store, and when the obtrusive music played during a meal rescues us from what would otherwise be an excruciatingly awkward silence.

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