-from "Black White" by Asian Dub Foundation (Rafi's Revenge is the album)
"You realize that water always flows down, right?"
My new friend JP said this to me today, as I was squinting at the top of State Street buildings, hoping I could somehow induce the sense of distance, perspective and appreciation travel brings (and will be bringing me in one week for the two months after), even after you return home. I was needing to see a break in thinking, I was needing a jar, a sudden glass shard in my vision, to show me what I could see at any second, what I do perceive at any second: the openess of every moment, represented so strongly through the strangeness of travel, but available to us at every moment. Lots of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's writings on contemplative art get at this concept, and Miksang, through Michael Wood and John McQuade's work, was developed through exercises that "artificially induce" such an opening. For instance, we do an exercise called "Flash of Perception" in which the basic teaching of the openness of our perceptions (as opposed to "just what we see", which tends to include what we perceived (color, light, texture) plus everyting else in our range) in every moment. That's the deep teaching. The basic practice? Set your intention to see, say, color. Close your eyes. Spin around. Open them. Notice color.
Meditation in action.
I felt a tremendous sadness when JP noted the idea about water. He told me that when he was graduating college, he felt a strong need for things that are true, that are without Foucault fault, without Althussian influence. Water is one of them. It is a breaking point, a koan, a dharmic moment. The sadness, it seems, upon description to him, was that there are many moments I don't see that at all. And yet, the sadness was quickly followed by relief. Yes. Water does flow down. Thank fucking god.
It's getting hard. Madison is very, very hot right now. Way unseasonably hot. We cracked out the air conditioners in our abode following our massive 12 hour double birthday party, and we've been stowing away in our rooms, each chilled by the shut windows blowing through plastic and wood to keep us calm. Most of the wonderful folk I managed to spend a sliver of time with today before my big trip told me they can't function much in this weather, and notably slow down. It was a relief to hear - no wonder I feel so overwhelmed, trying to scurry around in this shit, but also because summer is the worst season for me. I'd rather just go off on retreat each summer. I'm not a sun fan, mostly, being fair skinned and hating bright light. The energy, for someone like me who is so driven, and on all the time, is too much to ask, as well. I have trouble pacing myself when winter forces me to slow down, much less when summer's endless possibilities (opened by the weather and my abilities to get around with sufficiently less hassle than winter, living on bike and foot) seem just that, like a filled to ridiculous brim supply of deodorants at Woodman's, or the hair dryers that all seemed oversized when I moved back from France.
In one week, I will be double-checking my passport, charging all my batteries (literal, metaphorical) and paying off the rest of my bills. A week from tomorrow, I will lunch with godmother Sherryl in Chicago, then fly straight to godmother June at Gatwick. I look forward to being nurtured, to having food cooked, to trading striped socks with June and drawing, painting and printing with godfather Bruce. After that, Paris with Viviane and any other continent crew members of the international contingency of Miriam Fan Base who can make it over the week. Then, London, to spend much overdue time with Tobi at Unit Six and cram in Susie's wedding at the end. I anticipate I'll be blogging a fair amount, and emailing, though of course I'll be mostly out of phone contact. Ipod is loaded with hot new tracks from Dan and Sus (Hymie's Basement is hot!) and camera has a new flash card. Sadness and relief are everywhere, not just in the water. Not just in the way the water falls. And not just in me.
For those in Madison - good-bye party for me, welcome party for my replacement and good discounts at Rainbow Bookstore this Friday, 6-9pm!