Overwhelmed at the thought of existence

When I was young (in the second or third grade) I was in church and I asked one of those too-scary off-limits questions that get you kicked out of Sunday school. This was in the sanctuary, with a church full of people. Our pastor asked us for questions. This was mine:

If heaven is eternal, if it's everlasting, how do you not become scared at the thought of there always being a tomorrow?

As a kid I asked this. I had been projecting ahead to the day when I got into heaven, thinking about what it would be like and this glaringly obvious kink to me was that eternity would be really hard for me to deal with. I would struggle with how it would end. Wouldn't it drive a person crazy to always wake up tomorrow, for there to be no quenching, no stopper?

The pastor who had answered my question had been honest—she basically said she didn't know

And for 43 years this stood as a question in my mind. Not exactly in the same form as I stated it when I was young, but the same general question. I stopped believing in heaven. Stopped believing in God. Believed my life was finite, time-wise

Some helpful thoughts have come to me. The idea that time is always ending, such that if I'm involved in some process I don't like (a class or whatever) my time there is always shrinking. This holds whether I like the event or not—it's always ending. And there are thoughts of myself changing through time so much that I'm hardly the same person as before. Me is always changing, always dying, always giving birth to a new me. And so, if a me like that was stuck in eternity, I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with it, since after a long enough time I would change (grow, forget) enough that I wouldn't care or even remember my original problem. If I lived long enough, I would develop such a diverse history that I might appear to have been multiple people, as we define the term.

But the idea that I like the most came to me after my once-in-15-years mushroom trip. I had tripped a couple months before, was remembering the giving way of moment to moment within that trip, and it became clear to me that

Every moment is handleable in itself, survivable in itself, and gives way to the next, which is handleable in itself..

If I'm living in a series of moments, each one is handleable by itself. If I go to jail. If my face is pressed against the wall. If it's the moment I die. Each one is handleable. They may be difficult, but they're handleable. It's only the mystical aggregation of moments that overwhelms me. Only when I think of a whole bunch of moments that may happen sometime in the future do I get overwhelmed—never when I only think of this moment. This is at the center of meditation and AA practices. Live in the moment. And if each moment is handleable in itself, and if it gives way to another moment like itself, then it is survivable. Each moment is small enough that I can handle it—and the moment is imperceptibly replaced with a similar moment, one that is also handleable and survivable

The little kid me didn't want to handle infinity. It was so big it was scary. But only if I think about it all at once—or try to. If I try to think of infinity my mind breaks. I can, however, forget infinity (or think about it this way:)

I'm in a series of moments (that's how I perceive things). I'm in a moment right now. It started a few seconds or a few minutes ago. It will end in a little while. Right now all I can do is (of course) be here now by living in this moment. Which means paying attention to local things, not trying to skip ahead to another moment. And there's no reason to feel scared because I can handle this moment—right? And so I can believe that I can handle any moment. That there might be an infinite series of moments. And I might be in them. And that might be ok