No, seriously: I’ve been trying it out.
It’s a variation on the old “pretend you’re seeing the world from behind, not from in front” thing…you’re seeing the back of the trees, the back of the Moon, the back of the Sun…the back of everything but other people. Essentially, you’re backstage at the World.
That one’s good.
This one’s good too, though: imagine every object has a message for you: is trying to tell you something. What is it?
Some very interesting things arise from this.
One is that it works really, really well in urban environments. It works well in natural environments too, but there you don’t need it so much: because there it’s already quite apparent that everything is trying to tell you something. But what it does in urban environments is a bit different, it reminds you that there’s no such thing as an environment which is not the natural environment…
Which is quite a big deal.
But then: two. It’s very hard to maintain, in an urban environment. At least, that’s what I find. The urban environment, after all, is extraordinarily demanding of attention — any of us, were we not to keep our wits about us, could die in an intersection, die crossing the street, at any time, and my God what a load of freight those words carry! To die in an intersection. Yeah. That would be some heavy shit. And yet where else is it, that people die?
So, you can try it, but it’s hard to try it whole-mindedly. Which calls back to what Matthew said about this blog, which is that it has a definite interest in talking about “natural” time, the time spent out in Nature. Where by comparison with a city, almost nothing is likely to kill you, even if you don’t know the rules. Mind you, what you don’t know will occasionally kill you stone dead, there. Don’t know what’s safe to eat, don’t know how to swim, don’t know how to make a fire or tie a knot. BANG! You’re dead as a doornail. But in the cities and the towns, things are far more extreme, though less focussed…and that’s part of the malaise that comes along with cities and towns, as great as they are. In the great outdoors, it’s you who kills you. In the cities, it’s always someone else who does it.
But then again…that’s part of what makes the meditation so damn invigorating. If you do it for more than thirty seconds at a time, it’s your life you’re risking. So you can catch just these fleeting glimpses through Jack Frost’s eyes. You have to stop, then start again. Because it’s hard to wander the streets aimlessly…an urban environment always calls upon you for some deliberate action or other. It is, as Buber would perhaps say, the very arena in which the “I-It” relation is most regularly played out, the very space in which “space” is most regularly taken away from us by the nature of interactivity. But this is Buber as well: it’s a great space for reclaiming the “I-Thou” relationship, too, and for that very reason.
So, in my estimation…no, Morrison’s not crazy. At least, not about this.
My friend’s still sick. “Gravely ill”, is I believe the technical term for it. I am getting more okay with it though, as strange as that sounds. Well, it is not that strange: she is also “getting more okay with it.” And she’s a very wise woman, you know: she’s decided that at this extreme raw-bitten end of life, for as long as she can do it, what’s most important is not trying to amplify her comfort, but trying to preserve her agency. And as long as she does that, she lives still.
Well, and she still lives; and as I think I said before, that’s a great blessing. She’s still making stories about herself. I don’t have to start reallocating the room in my brain I use to think about her yet. It’s the old “eternity in a grain of sand” thing, I suppose.
Of course, around here grains of sand are somewhat scarce.
And that’s why I’m happy to be able to see it in buses and power lines and Chinese groceries instead. From time to time. When I’m not busy crossing the street.
So, y’know…thanks, Grant. That’s been helpful. It’s a good trick. In fact I recommend it to anyone, and everyone. One learns to capture the same feeling of bumping up against the sublime that one gets from watching a sunset, only in streetsigns and buckets of oranges and brick buildings and piles of soggy cigarette butts left over from the snowfall. Banana peels. Swallows and poplars. Big rectangles against the evening sky, with Venus peeping out around their corners. In essence, this is yoga for the limbic system. And as my friend Jack said, the one ineradicable benefit of yoga is that you learn several positions in which it is comfortable for you to sit for a long period of time. And of course, that ain’t hay.
In fact that’s mighty far from being hay.
Also, it’s free.
I may have more to say about it later on. In the meantime: well, there are a lot worse diversions you could be engaged in.