Okay so I’ve experienced this for as long as I can remember. Basically whenever I watch something or look at a photograph or whatever I think, “Hmm, I wonder what happened to that person in the background, where they went later that day, what happened to them, etc”.
But it’s deeper than that, it triggers like an obsessive emotional kind of introspection about the sheer speed of life, holy shit, that guy who’s my age playing a student in the background of that scene in Friends is probably 40 odd now, is he depressed his acting career never went anywhere, etc.
Aye, I get a bit obsessed with this. I think it helps me to not think about my own life for a bit.
I especially get it with people I know and their relationship to me (people at work, in my band, etc) where I think ‘I wonder if I ever occur to them’. Like, do I ever rock up in someone’s dream, or does anyone ever think ‘I wonder how Stephen’s getting on’. Probably not. But the most random people crop up in my head/dreams, usually because of something totally innocuous, so it could happen.
I once raised this kind of thing with my mate Ian when we were loading shopping into the boot of his car, about how crazy it was that life is potentially so broad and unpredictable and yet we generally follow these little patterns every day, when I could just walk away and do ANYTHING… so he slapped me quite hard in the face and said “Now THAT was unpredictable!”
Sometimes I think about that if I’m getting a train through a part of the country I’m unfamiliar with (or even basically unaware of), and see all these houses and shops etc, and think that there are loads of lives going on in the same way as mine and everyone I know, everywhere.
Sometimes, normally if I’m in a big park or something as they’ll generally not have changed much over the years, I get a thing where I think about all the people over the last 100/200 years who have gone there doing exactly the same thing I’m doing now.
And get a real sense of my place in this point in time and history but also connected to those people in the past and the people in the future who will also go there. Like I think about all the people in Victorian times who also went there and saw the same things and I’m now part of that continuation.
This reminds me of when I was watching a documentary on TV and saw myself and an ex walking down the street together, from about 12 years previously. Very odd sensation to unexpectedly see myself like that and think about what happened during the following years and the fact that the two of us, despite parting amicably, have no idea of each other’s whereabouts now.