Sunday, and here it was just yesterday that I found myself working on this journal, but holding back from hitting the posting button. Early today I received a call from friend, John, and we drove up to the lighthouse in town to watch the giant surf. Forecasters called for 20-foot waves, but I’d give it more like 10 or 12. Still magic and imaginative to watch this churning sea while ducking under the rain in my tiny umbrella, but for all the extra effort and the mud-puddle trouncing to get to the viewer’s rail, I would like to have seen the big stuff.
But the wild sea is always invigorating to my spirit. The crashing noises, then pauses of quiet between the crashes when you can hear the other spectators discussing what they have just witnessed. It is to me like some sort of religious ceremony, a public prayer, to come to the edge of land and water and grab hold of the bars that separate us, and watch and feel the thumps of water smashing against the cliffs in a sort of asymmetrical rhythm that counters that of one’s heart. And here, this blustery day, when us witnesses have stepped from our comfort zones to participate in some of the mightiest power that mother nature can reveal to us. Yea, it’s church, in a way…
I returned home to read and have been in that sleepy, rainy trance-like state all day. Reading about wakefulness and awareness, when the house is sleepy and cozy and a refuge from the wet weather. My slender Kindle holds so much wonder for me that I never tire of looking through my collections of books and selecting something that seems just right for the moment, or for the day. Hundreds of books in a piece of plastic a quarter of an inch thick. How can the life of reading become much better than that? So I prop myself up on a pillow and savor the words of my favorite writing people. What luxury, me, I consider to myself, that I do not have to be driven by the social forces and by the media out there working its way into peoples’ minds, causing them to do silly things, buy things they don’t need, follow artificial dramas they will never experience for themselves.
I have learned to not be so critical of others, and of how they elect to spend their spare time and money. I no doubt appear just as foolish to them. And perhaps if 20 years ago I could have looked into my own future and seen myself as I am now, I might also have said what a silly person we have there, and just what is that self that I have become? No, it is so easy to look around in a spirit of ridicule and condemnation and judge the life around us with our own concocted and artificial standards. I know from recent reading that we all create formulas and characterizations of reality, models, that we store predominantly in our left brain, and quickly access for our unique interpretive understanding of reality. The goal for those of us aware of such goings-on is to learn how to overthrow our habitual thinking patterns–sell everything we have, as Jesus puts it–and follow the truer, quiet man who dwells inside each of us.
Meditation has moved me along that transformative path of disavowing nearly everything I know about myself and the world around me, learning to see life through the right brain rather than the left. The right is quiet, contemplative, holds life in awe and reverence, looks for lively details that might make one smile inside. None of this is much possible though without first quieting the influence of the left brain. The left brain is always talking story at me, telling me about my history, analyzing my past, predicting and determining my future, providing me with unending and continuous commentary on almost everything I think I know to be true about myself. My right brain is doing none of that, but is harder to listen to without first sinking into periods of silence and relaxation. Then when I reach that zone of interior silence I can sense awareness and alertness that is not filled with vacuous thoughts.
Today when stepping out to view the giant waves in town, I thought to leave behind my left-brain pronouncements so that I might better just feel what is there that is natural and presenting itself to me in the midst of storm. Some days the other senses that do not record and report but only feel are much more attuned to the environment through which I am flowing. Those are the days I live for. How do I attract them to myself, when they often seem so fleeting and unpredictable? This morning, first thing, I spent most of an hour in practicing meditation, which appears to give me room in my soul or psyche for just opening up to the vastness that cannot be easily described, but always surrounds all of us. I used to read the Tao Te Ching and wonder what the heck it meant. Now, with some quiet time and with the practice of quieting myself, some of that ancient eastern wisdom makes sense to me.