I’ve had trouble writing the past few days.
It’s not for lack of trying, but that I’ve shifted from writing to thinking and speaking. I can think something through fine, but when I sit down with the blank pages, the words can’t seem to make their way to my fingertips without going off in another direction.
As I vomit out these paragraphs, I lose interest in what I’m saying halfway through and toss it in the Drafts bin. I don’t want to write, I want to converse. I want to speak and ad-lib.
Articles take planning, but my thoughts just flow. If I stop them up or try to tie them down to a certain subject, then they start to devour themselves like hungry lions in a cage, or flood across the plains like a river meeting an unskillfully placed dam.
Topics can be shackles. They mislead us into thinking that life can be categorized into neat little boxes. Even now, I find myself losing interest in the whole direction that this article is taking.
The gray sky outside has far more to offer than anything I’ve said here. My fat, yawning cat sitting nearby is far wiser than any Buddha.
I’m reading a book called, “At the Existentialist Cafe.” The phenomenologists had a practice where they’d focus on what is rather than what’s thought. You observe something while suspending all opinions and explanations behind it. Then, you describe what you’re observing.
The world of summaries, blurbs, and bookmarks reveals itself as full of rich, exquisite details. We can even find some wonder in a pile of shit on the road if we look close enough.
This mindset doesn’t lend itself well to ordered discussions because that kind of involves suspending our living experience so that we can daydream long enough to belch out a topic.
My mind is orderly in that it moves predictably forward. As to where it moves, there’s no telling until I get there. One thing I’m sure of, when I’m there, I have no interest in looking back at where I was.
Even now, I take a deep breath and ease into the experience of just sitting here. The whole mental environment changes. How can I bring something into this moment that belongs to the last one?
Then I responded to a text from a friend about a totally different subject. And then another friend with another subject. Why would I want to circle on an imaginary moment that’s already minutes in the past when what’s immediately present is far more engaging?
Of course it’s also possible that I’ve suffered some kind of brain damage from all the depression and anxiety that I experienced the last two months and this has made it difficult for me to focus or commit to doing one activity for a long period of time.
But, that’s neither here nor there.
What is here is This, this perpetual flow that never seems to go anywhere… Just now I heard a giant crash in the room behind me. That fat, yawning cat from earlier knocked a glass bowl of cat food off the counter. My mom started losing her shit. I said, “Calm down, it’s alright.” Her rage intensified. “Calm the fuck down.”
“I think this is a good reason to be upset.”
“No. It’s not.” She reeled herself in, and I set to work picking up the glass and cleaning up the food. No big deal.
We often feel like our feelings are justified, don’t we? They never are because the things we feel aren’t caused by anything outside of ourselves; they’re caused by our state of mind.
That suffering state of mind is the same one that can circle one subject long enough to make something meaningful out of it. It’s a mind with motives and preferences. A mind that values order and predictability.
Sitting here, leaning into the feeling of sitting, leaning into the light hum of the air cleaner, leaning into the blabbering newscaster chattering away in the TV, leaning into the gray light that filters through the foyer windows, leaning into the urge to pour another cup of coffee… order and disorder don’t mean anything.
Entropy is a lie. In natural reality, there’s no such thing as a closed system, and natural reality is where we live. Outside of arbitrary watermarks and laboratory settings, we can’t really comment on whether something’s ordered or disordered. We can only ever reliably comment on what’s apparent.
What’s apparent is that lingering is not an option, that we can’t draw conclusions without being mistaken in some way. That includes the conclusion I just drew.
This lifelong struggle of me trying to pin myself down, or pin down a view I can settle with, has totally been in vain. The only thing I’ve learned from trying to settle is that I can’t settle. That in seeking I find that it can’t be found.
There’s little point in trying to find a mask that suits all occasions. Time is a cruel overlord that only has power over us because we fight against it. It’s like those Chinese finger traps. If we try to pull out of it, it only tightens its grip. To escape, we have to push in toward the middle.
So that’s what we do, we push into the moment, into whatever it is we’re experiencing. We push into change. Not against it, and not away from it. Into the center of it.
Then we’re not an outsider anymore. We’re here, we’re present. We’ve gone from being a person who meditates, to being a meditator. Then from being a meditator, to being meditation.
Meditation is just life. It’s stillness in motion, foolish wisdom, the is in isn’t. Here, one can’t tell whether the breath is ours or everything’s, much less stay stuck on one prepared point-of-view or provisional conclusion.