Writing

Part Of This World

by | Sep 7, 2022 | 0 comments

Weather around these parts has shifted. While most days still get hot – or, at the very least, warm – there’s a coolness in the air that communicates quite clearly: things are changing.

It’s tempting to tumble into some sort of narrative about this. ‘Summer’s hard on me,’ for instance, ‘I can’t wait for fall!’ Accurate as this may be, something’s lost when I abandon myself to this storyline. Something is lost when, rather than tending to experience, I immerse in a tale – which is very different, it should be noted, from simply acknowledging a tale.

I lose a sense of contact, for one thing. Before diving into narrative – in the moment before that rush of words and phrases rises all around me – a sense of contact, of relationship is apparent. I feel air touching skin. And through this, feel warmth pervading muscle and/or coolness entering bone.

A sense of atmosphere is also apparent. By which I mean, the sense of air – as in, ‘air touching skin’ – is not limited to this most obvious point of contact. ‘Air’ is more accurately described as a kind of network. I can feel air – and, by extension, warm and cool – reaching out in all directions. Opening over the road. Winding through nearby trees. Touching buildings to the left and right.

Earth and sky are part of this too. In that instant before story asserts itself, before I give myself to its presence, there’s a sense of each… Of each what, exactly? Witnessing air and all it offers? Holding air and all it is? Knowing air? Loving air? Whatever the case, there is a sense of both earth and sky in this network; the cosmos are intimate elements of this web.

When this moment passes and my tale becomes pre-eminent, I don’t exactly lose all this – for, in truth, none of it really goes anywhere – but I do lose conscious awareness of it. The visceral experience of being immersed in an affecting network becomes secondary, peripheral, distant. Something is definitely lost.

‘Contact’ is the word I used to articulate this loss earlier, and fair enough. Right now, though, having sat with this, having contemplated a while, I realize the loss is more profound than this term allows. When narrative assumes dominance in these instances – which, in my experience, it often does – when story loses any measure of porousness and permeability, I forget that I am part of this world.

This loss has a measure of tragedy to it. It actually hurts. To the extent that meditation assists in lessening these – the loss and the tragedy and the hurt – I find a measure of relief. I find a small bit of gratitude.

– Neil

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