To swirl. There. He said it, stated intention, directly. To be lost, languishing (anguish is in there), full of lose and seeking, squirming, rutting, snuffling about. Scent search of what? Or not what quite, but how, now? The unknowable, uncertain, which lies beyond perhaps, inaccessible, indeterminate, resistant to decipher, discretion, or decode. He plies. Ruin of movement, beyond conceit and loosely bound, tearing terror of graspage. An infinity of words, or if not, many disordered magnitudes more compossibly complex than he –wrecked in kind with troubles of time, reductions of selection. What means, all knotted in already-known. A scumble then, without, arms treading, legs a-flutter, cognition confused in the mass, mess, unaccommodated, arranged re-arranging, affective and effecting, assaying never fully, nor enough, insufficient temporals and scope, shortfall of finitude, unbecoming, irrealized, incomputable surround. To swirl or swoon perhaps – intends eccentric excentricity, without with-in, within outside and othering. Immersed, submerged, tumbling almost-struggle, almost-drift, thoroughfare and passaging, limning swaths of runnels, channels, margins. Copiously coping, how would he go? What are the motions lesser than stir and more absorptive? And what of the when? Who now, where now, how when? Confusion, then – confusion, swooning and swirl. A wriggling receipt, some commingling transference transmitting, attention intending undoing, origins ever receding, irremediable in rot and excess, dismembered invention – begin – excise and evince, glide of erasure and uncover, indiscernible activity of process, waving particles, particular waves, currents and tropes, passively permeable patterning passageways [not that!] imperceptible part-i-cipatory breakage and shatter, dispersion deconstructing refusal. He ruins, inevitably. That stands – there. Unworking integration every angle or approach, from inside, decay, a desiccate and undone doing. Mismade by allowance, a scribbling palimpsest or correction – be cognized, be written, be spoken, transcribed – he wails into unruly, disruptive, erupting fluid floodings of voiding, of nothing. Not afloat, asail, aswim. Neither drowning nor submerged. Nearly saturate with swallow and exhale, a lineament on empty, some faulty trace.
I didn’t come back. Something stayed on in the far. Apart from the wires and the noise, “connections” and net-works. Somewhere away. No mistaking it was I who drove home, unlocked doors, and arrived. I who functioned and served as a placeholder. Yet I’d stayed in the cold and remote, the far reaches. Away. I haven’t returned, though something sure did – no one noticed but me.
It’s alright, there is room. Space to breathe and to think, space to listen. Apace like beyond or forgotten, the lost, misremembered – like that I was left or retained. On I wandered, as wondered; I pondered and roamed, but I did not come back, that I know, not this time – too much risk without safety to “be here.” I don’t want to – not here – no where, no now, no sure thing – not “that.” I’d like to be other, undone, in the wild, separate, immersed, and another. Not me. Not this. Not here. Not now.
So I stayed and I didn’t come back. No one noticed. Alone, I began to combine and consider. Correspond and co-question the side of the world the world was on. Difference side, or an other, not a me or an ours or an us. Just a world. I renamed there, all one, even while I returned and took care of. I escaped. Not me, only them, not I, just the others, who cares? – perhaps no one, not me and not them and not elsewise. I am gone. Gone unnoticed. It’s okay, for who cares? As long as I’m holding my place, and fulfilling – a father, a worker, a lover, a friend – no one cares if I never came back from the forest and sky or the wind and the cold. The dark places. No one knows, no one cares, nor do I, just I know, that is all, that I didn’t. Return. Rejoin or sync up. No, not I. I’ve stayed far even while it’s my body or figure that fills up the places and manners I was. I am not. And it’s fine, doesn’t matter, why would it?
I blink with the breeze o’er the road. Lodged in swift crannies and caves, dropped in canyons, and spread through the clouds. Now I’m rain, it’s okay, now it’s snow, no one knows, no one cares, reconsidered: as long as someone is caring for them (or apparent) no one cares where the person has gone – that including – the spaces the person has gone – no one knows neither cares, nowhere for nothing – simply not – sweetened absence – of care or concern – just a void, a caesura, an erasure, amiss, like palimpsest or scrimshaw or paste, and a cut.
I am cut. Paste anything there. They won’t notice, not them or there or any thing or one. There’s no matter, no wave, energy or particle, there is nothing – that’s any and every for them – what they need, that is all, what they need. What they want. I’m not here, for
I didn’t come back, from the cold, the remote, and the silence, the spaces, the less. It’s okay, no one noted, but me, for I functioned, appeared, held a place – however emptied – of me. It’s okay. I am cut. Paste anything here.
I have not returned. No one knows this (but you now, and I – keep a secret). It’s an absence I will not reveal.
“And in life, meaning is not instantaneous. Meaning is discovered in what connects, and cannot exist without development. Without a story, without an unfolding, there is no meaning. Facts, information, do not in themselves constitute meaning. Facts can be fed into a computer and become factors in a calculation. No meaning, however, comes out of computers, for when we give meaning to an event, that meaning is a response, not only to the known, but also to the unknown: meaning and mystery are inseparable, and neither can exist without the passing of time. Certainty may be instantaneous; doubt requires duration: meaning is born of the two. An instant photographed can only acquire meaning insofar as the viewer can read into it a duration extending beyond itself. When we find a photograph meaningful, we are lending it a past and a future.”
HERE. Abandoned places fall apart. Decay to exposure. We, bereft. We, grieving. In the absence of care… Upkeep. Keeping up. Often when significant change occurs, we do not bother “keeping up.” Rather things, people, places, seem to hold on as long as possible to what is familial / familiar / to what seems known, as long as they can. Perhaps this marks some difference between survival and thriving. Maintenance versus development. Preservation versus advance. Enclosing versus opening.
But time. Molecules move and shake around; synapses shift, come undone, frackle, rewire…adjust. Adapt. There are new conditions. The movement of beings, of the world, continuously alters our context, alters ourselves. When they left, or something seemed lost, other inhabitants, presences, qualities, realities fill the perceptive interoperable surround…some constraints are increased, some loosened, restraints, license, “competition”: wind, rodents, weather, routine… The primary structuring relationships morph. Continually.
Now wife. Now wife and children. Now certain finances. Now no finances. Now surety, stability, now uncertainty, hazard, CHANGE. CHANGE(never not occurring) ALWAYS EQUALS OPPORTUNITY(for living things), ALWAYS EQUALS DIFFERENCE.
Now no wife. Now children. Now no job. Now scrapping for sustenance. Now certain friendships. Now the absence of certain friends.
Now different care.
What will the winds do? The rain, the sun, the heat, the ice? Critters? What new sounds will my structure make – interactions – given the changes in conditions, in surround? WHAT ARE WE NOW? The same. Structurally – a form made for interaction, a part of the world, interlocked and interwoven, a bundle of functions and processes, intentions and conditions – exposed by happening in a world.
“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold”
(Great! How else…life?)
And how beautiful the potencies of change. How messy. How easy to attribute – “good” “bad” “difficult” “help” “harm” “ease”…
But is what’s happening to the homestead, the barn now – in lieu of human use and care – less easy? Less beautiful? Does not every context surrounding and composing a structure of forms – both help and harm of a sort?
Would it be false to say this erosion, this abandonment to other interests and types of care, this shifting of primary interactions, reciprocating attachments, looks like loss? With all that light pouring through? All the redolent air and wheezing whistling and rattle? Has the new (ever-altering) context of comings-and-goings helped or harmed this structure…or, perhaps mostly…BOTH? Just like the previous and every future one?
We. I. You. Crafted ever-so-intricately in contexts we are unable to adequately identify (comprehensively) or evaluate – for they ARE the context that is co-creating (in-forming) our identifications and evaluations. We interpret – according to the context we are enmeshed in/with.
CHANGE CONTEXT – CHANGE PERCEPTION, INTERPRETATION, IDENTIFICATIONS, EVALUATIONS…change even what we look for…
A breaking, a leaving, an abandonment, some loss…(simply, really,change) – do they not equal a kind of damage, a kind of harm, so full of openings, exposure, new perspectives granted the initializing structures that we truly DO NOT KNOW what living is for? But this? – TO LIVE?!
The rent places let the outside in in novel ways, creating coevally novel openings for the inside to emerge. The wear co-creates other structural stresses and reliefs, new releases and new enclosures, novel shapes and textures, colors perhaps we never knew were possible to begin with. Never a potential until the context came that facilitates and allows, enacts and enables.
Always interacting, we change. Always changing (along with our entire surround) defines INTER-ACTION. Barn: Enter, Action. Always.
Experiences confoundingly rendered with these sound contexts:
By definition a habit, meditative or otherwise, becomes somewhat “automatic” and therefore something other than “awareness” or novel or differentiated… and yet…
Taking in the good… being lived…
“Implicitly, and more fundamentally, this practice means a relaxed opening into the love – in a very very broad sense – that is the actual nature of everything. Moment by moment, the world and the mind reliably carry you along. This isn’t airy-fairy, it’s real. Our physical selves are woven in the tapestry of materiality, whose particles and energies never fail. The supplies – the light and air, the furniture and flowers – that are present this instant are here, available, whatever the future may hold. So too is the caring and goodwill that others have for you, and the momentum of your own accomplishments, and the healthy workings of your body. Meanwhile, your mind goes on being, while dependably weaving this thought, this sound, this moment of consciousness.
It’s hard to sustain a felt knowing of this nature of everything. The brain evolved to keep our ancestors afraid to keep them alive. But if you look, and look again, you can see directly that right now, and in every now you’re alive, you’re cradled by the world and the mind like a child carried to bed by her mother. This cradling is a kind of love, and when you trust it enough to soften and fall back into it, there’s an untangling of the knots of fear and separation. Then comes both an undoing of the craving that drives suffering and harm, and a freeing and fueling love living through you and as you out into the world.
Imagine a single day in which you were often – not continuously, not perfectly – lived by love. When I try this myself, the events of the day don’t change much -but my experience of them, and their effects, improve dramatically. Consider this as a practice for a day, a week – or the year altogether.
More widely, imagine a world in which many people, enough people – known and unknown, the low and the mighty – were lived by love. As our world teeters on the edge of a sword – and could tip either into realistic prosperity, justice, and peace, or into growing resource wars, despotism, or fundamentalism – it seems to me that it’s not just possible for a critical mass of human hearts to be lived by love. It’s necessary.
The essence of this practice is a yielding into all that lives you. This is a paradigm shift from the typical top-down, subtly contracted, moving-out-from-a-unified-center-of-view-and-action way of operating . . . to a relaxed receptive abiding, feeling supported by the ocean of causes creating each momentary wave of awareness. Then on this basis, there is an encouraging of love in all its forms to flow through you. The suggestions that follow are different ways to do this, and you can also find your own.
Soften and open in the heart. Notice that you are alright right now: listen to your body telling your brain that you are basically OK. Feel the fullness that is already here, all the perceptions and thoughts and feelings pop-pop-popping in this moment of consciousness. Feel the buoying currents of nature and life, waves of gifts from over 3 billion years of evolution on our blue and green pebble. Look around and see objects, including your own hands and body, and consider the unfailing generosity of the material realm, blossoming for over 12 billion years from a seed of light.
Be aware of the warmth and good will from others toward you. Sense your connecting to others, how you are supported by a net of relationships. They don’t have to be perfect. Some people do care about you. You are almost certainly loved.
Feel carried by consciousness, the effortless knowing of perception and thought. When stress, worry, pressure, or pain appear in the mind, see that the fabric of this suffering – the underlying operating of the mind – is itself fine, is always already fine.
Again and again making this little but profound shift, this giving over to the carrying cradling of mind and matter, you can afford to let your own love flow freely. Bring this down to earth: if you lived from love in your first encounter with another person today, how would you be, what would you do, how would you speak? What would a week, a year, be like in which you lived by love? How about trying this? Who knows, if enough people share in this practice, the world could become a much better place.”
I have felt overwhelmed by meanings. Flooded with good. Surprised by kindness. Taken off guard (guards unnecessary) by humans. How much good there is — children discovering, struggling; coyotes chasing cars; peacocks squawking; handshakes and smiles; innovations and ideas; hopes and dreams; sounds and shapes; disappointments and losses; grief and gratitude; desire and refusal; romance and death…
a body materially exchanging, interacting, interoperating with all the materials that surround it
a consciousness, awareness alert to emotion, interpretation, possibilities and limitations
I seem to be unable to stop digging in and reflecting on When Things Fall Apart. My memories range over its engagements with this book, most of the circumstances blurred and dissipate, but not the wisdom of the text. I was trying to explain to my teens the odd euphoria that follows suicidal determination – what neuroscience knows as “shut-down.” As the body begins to burn, or be ripped apart by fangs, riddled with bullets or smashed into bits…pain ceases to be useful to the organism and it is flooded with endorphins…a kind of blissed-out euphoria like a systemic morphine drip. “There is definitely something tender and throbbing about groundlessness,” Pema says.
But the idea isn’t shut-down. The idea is more like a drowning compression without a bottom…a fall…a float…if fear – flight; if anxiety – distract; if anguish – addictive comfort; all these options for moving away, slipping out, attempt at relief, escape, a concretization of experience, rather than its flow. It’s now-ness. This drowning compression without bottom – what if we BE THERE? What if we sit in it, and breathe. The groundlessness, bottomlessness, suddenly becomes some space. A little room…there’s opening. We don’t know what to do, don’t know where to go, don’t know how this happened, don’t know why we did. “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all...Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”
As I make my way back over the Atlantic from the nominally United Kingdom to the (equally nominally) United States, I am considering what things most prominently infected me. Partly “I think I wanted to get lost to see what happens next” (Deborah Levy, Things I Don’t Want to Know) and partly I wanted to know what to do – my coursework and library visitations – to anchor my lostness while providing anonymity and foreignness in which to search for peace and move through grief.
More and more the invisible was named,
the blind man grew mightier.
How he wandered and called out to his echo!
which called back with the screech of gulls.
He is still searching among flags and vistas
for that same statue.
Sounds blow to the far side of the river.
Nobody is standing there.
Nothing takes shape. Newspapers melt,
photos fade. The stone is made of wax,
the notebook of ash, time takes itself
and repeats the appearance
until his life becomes a mirror
in which he disappears and appears,
but nobody looks at himself,
because nobody can see himself.
my “self” photographed in front of Gerhard Richter’s “painting” Grey Mirror
-Tate Modern, London-
I noted how clear the signage. Clear and direct with no soft-pedaling of consequences stated. Mind the gap, way out (and way in), “moving through these doors may result in death or injury” (on the Underground), smoking kills. The ubiquity of concern for mental health – that Bibliotherapy is not just a bookseller’s or librarians metaphor of expertise – but is in fact a prescriptive cure – scripts are written by doctors for BOOKS! (hundreds a week, one library reported). Along the same culture-historic lines, perhaps influenced by the longevity and prevalence of hundreds to thousands year-old architecture and artefacts, traditions, and tangible evidence of time and identities – the apparent insistence on QUALITY – of life, of drink, of service – of literature and art and purposes. So while everything costs about twice as much as the USA, the options often doubled the quality. A local pub on every corner, small grocers, fresh markets – in the miles I walked I only spotted a handful of McDonald’s, Krispy Kremes or other international chains (and only in heavily touristed areas) – aside from Starbucks. I saw 3 gas stations.
And the bookstores!!! Sometimes 3 or 4 in a block, flush to the gills – but hardly a bestseller, a romance, or fluff! Amazing – perhaps the most profound difference between the USA and UK that I noticed: their stores FEATURED literary quality, and only sometimes provided mass appeal items that could be had anywhere online – in many stores 80% of the stock I encountered did not have an eBook format – the books were books meant to be books in the purpose of books – to be engaged with the body and mind and retained and gone back to – like the architecture, museums and galleries – not disposable pleasures – but necessary cultural artifacts made from the human condition and accessed repeatedly for its benefit.
Of course there are the “places”: Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, the British Library and British Museum, the Tate, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tower of London and on and on…walking over 15 miles a day, finding “oldest churches” in every nook and alley, colleges and universities every other block, London is a place swamped with culture and continuity, the high and the low, and great gaps to mind in between.
So with those great anchors securing me, I tried to see myself. In the reflections of great art and architecture, thousands of years of history and culture, thousands of languages in cosmopolitan streets, thousands of unknown faces and voices, habits and practices and sayings…my “life became a mirror in which he disappears and appears,” but, of course, “nobody looks at himself, because nobody can see himself.”
What did I see? Well by looking through others that I could see, I found “I wasn’t sure my skeletal system had found a way of walking freely in the Societal System” and the need “to find a language that is in part to do with learning how to become a subject rather than a delusion, and in part to do with unknotting the ways in which I have been put together by the Societal System in the first place” including the “many delusions of my own”…”it’s exhausting to learn how to become a subject – it’s hard enough learning how to become a writer” (Deborah Levy).
And I thought of how, like the forest and the trees – it often seems we are unable to see reality for our experiences. So many of us semi-automatically equate our experience with reality – rather than note how small our perceptual bubble really is. Just try using the “Powers of 10” idea – start anywhere – with your pain, your fingernail, your happiness. Now imagine IN a power of 10 – you’re into the cells, into one strand of what’s causing you pain, into a moment eliciting joy. 10x more and you’ve gone beyond atoms and quarks – matter and energy ill-defined and inexplicable and ALWAYS dynamic. Imagine OUT a power of 10 – you’re viewing a street full of private perceptual experiences very different from your own – and trees and birds and squirrels and buildings. X 10 and you see miles and miles of earth – filled up with all kinds of creatures and systems, connectors and wonders and weathers and mountains and rivers – x 10! and you’re out in the galaxy of planets much larger than our own, stars much bigger than our sun, and still more galaxies to go…
Either way you go there is gargantuan forest – and our experience, our body – barely a branch…yet we evaluate so often from that individual outlook – incredibly distorting bubble of lens – with a minimal scope – not engaging the forest, absorbing the forest, wandering and listening and looking and opening – so that “the unanswerable question drifts by” and “unsure of its existence” can “become a new idea…” the beginnings of subject-ivity – a particle in relation from within and without – from mattering energy to butterflied effects…an individual instancing of human.
Be mindful. Be curious. Be patient. Don’t know, and enjoy your hands. Be generous, take refuge, find strength. Be grateful, keep going, be glad. Respond, don’t react. Slow down and forgive. Let go, accept limits, and do what you can. Take in the good, relax, have compassion. Feel safer, fill holes, and love.
-all chapter titles from Rick Hanson’s just one thing
It’s okay. Be human – the extremely hard, most natural thing.
an added and unexpected catharsis – on the night I tried British telly due to trouble falling asleep – Synechdoche, NY – a remarkable example of how complex and generative our perceptive bubble can be…and yet how barrier’d from the world outside of that bubble…forests and trees / reality and personal experiences – beautiful drops in the sea… (and perhaps my favorite movie to date)..
It mingles as I tarry here. Fence and branches joining what they distinguish. From here to there I yearn. Details all so near. In my reaching they grow hazy. I long for you. I follow. I wander. Toward you? From me? Out beyond?
There was a time. It’s lost its focus. Forward, back, I cannot tell. I am here. A something-is divides us. Even as it joins. I reach across. I feel you back. And yet.
Yet not. The moony sun illuminates. Draws attention. Drawing all the lines connecting us, all the angles between.
To my dearest and most beloved : Holly Suzanne – I confess, profess, announce, sing, display, proclaim that my life is altered, changed, extended, enhanced, enriched and “reciprocally molded” by yours! Thank you! I love you! Words really do not do justice to what I yearn to express in this matter. So – Happy Birthday!
And what joy to have your lifelong twin, your originary “reciprocal molder” with us on this day! Happy Birthday(of course!) to you too – Heidi! Thank you so much for journeying to be with us in Kansas this year – and to both of you for allowing the nation to celebrate your wonderful existences with such pomp and blast!
Twinning. It boggles my mind to consider an Other with whom all one’s existing moments have been shared in some genetic and psycho-somatic physio-biological manner. We all arise from “families of origin” – known or unknown. Sets of DNA/RNA, environments, contexts, socio-political realities all conjoin to formulate and tweak, morph and develop us along our passing journeys of existence. With that come difficulties and joys. Traumas and opportunities. Constraints and affordances. Over decades so much of our environment embeds in us it can be hard to discover/uncover/observe/revise the functions and effects of it all. But this is also a great freedom we have. The difficult work of digging and awareness, discovery and revision – “unworking” patterns and pains, “automatic” responses and flinches to the world that have been threaded into us from our own “time immemorials.”
Not having composed this song, all the words surely don’t belong – but the tone, and sister-sentiment – “the story goes…” – and the urging to excise and unpack the “demons,” afflictions, griefs, traumas and so forth – that you two have shared from fertilization and beyond – is my wish for you – together and individually (is that possible with twinning?) …