I have written previously about the 'golden thread' that highlights certain times, places and events of my life - running back as far as I can remember. But the opposite side of that coin is the vast tracts of forgotten times in my life. The many things that happened that I remember about - but which feel-unreal and made very little lasting impact... this can amount to the bulk of many years of some situations, places, people...
I can remember that such things happened, but not feel what it was like; things that may have been psychologically overwhelming at the time, or of great duration, or unusual... but which did not link up with anything real.
This really is the obverse of the golden thread - where the moments may have seemed insignificant at the time, apparently ephemeral - maybe even things I thought very briefly, momentary insights or flashes of self-awareness... yet which have taken-on a mythic weight and permanence.
SO: the golden thread is myth, it is archetype, it is really-real - whereas most of life, including most of the most 'impressive' things in life (socially regarded as significant, quantitatively most dominant) are... the opposite of myth... just stuff, arbitrary, time-filling; unsuccessful attempts to live but in fact dishonest, contrived.
Such a lot of this stuff! Such a Brown Swamp! And such futile efforts expended! And such self-dishonesty of evaluation to cover the insignificance that was - in truth - the real experience... There was certainly, always, a part of me that realised I was thrashing around and failing - merely filling-time, occupying mind; that I was trying to manufacture-on-demand something that could only be discovered and known.
How badly I misinterpreted things. I thought my alienation was caused by dullness of circumstance, by being trapped in mundane and restricted situations - and that if-only I could change the circumstance and situations, then life would become real - which is to say mythic.
But in fact the problem was metaphysical - that I was constantly in-denial-of the reality of the real, of the insights of intuition, of the importance of that which I knew important - I was (mostly - except in golden thread moments) trying to live by external criteria, get my meaning from circumstances and my satisfaction from approval.
In sum, the Brown Swamp - its size, pervasiveness, the way it swallowed-up so much of Life; this was a consequence of an almost continuous denial of the reality of the real, of my own capacity to know the real, of the permanence and objectivity of significance; and this was at root a denial of God.
(All that was supposedly-real was felt to be unreal; and that which was experienced as real was categorised as merely personal and ephemeral.)
This is not about 'happiness'. At least on the surface, happiness can be dissociated from meaning - indeed it nearly-always is, for more people and most of the time. I was often happy.
But happiness without meaning or purpose or permanence or the reality of relationships... well that is alienation, and that is what I mean by the Brown Swamp; and that was me, and I think it is 'normal' - and that it is entailed by genuine unbelief in God.
Belief in Jesus is a separate thing. It is unbelief in God, in deity; in the sense of creator, that entails alienation; entails that apparent meanings and purposes in living are subjective and evanescent delusions merely; entails that life is necessarily a Brown Swamp.
And therefore my experience of the golden thread was a consequence of my failures in atheism; it was a negative attainment; those times and situations of unconscious belief and faith: intuited reality not-effectively-denied...