Meditation: From separation to serenity

One reason I have not been faithful to the “daily meditation” thing is that the meditations in A Quiet Strength are just so sappy. I knew they were, and I figured I would either react to the sentiment therein or just use the title for my own purposes. But the overwhelming blue-ness of it all gets to me.

I know everyone is wondering how much I accomplished on the labyrinth today, and the answer is nothing. Coriolanus rehearsal all morning, of course, and then I got home and realized that there’s nothing more to do until I learn how to lay paving bricks.

Sure, Home Depot has instructions, but they’re mostly for nice, rectangular areas. Plus which, the actual installation, rectangular or not, involves skills and equipment I don’t have yet. One has to excavate the earth to a depth of two and a half inches, how exactly does one do that? The paving stone catalog says you then till the soil to mix in concrete to form a base. I’m not going to do that: too expensive, too permanent. Then everyone agrees you add an inch of sand, pounding into place with a pounder thingie.

I am under no illusion that this is a one, two or even three-day job. This is a year-and-a-half job. Either I pound that sand with a pec-inducing hand pounder, or I find a way to buy or rent a machine to do that. You can see the rental fees mounting up, but buy one? Sheesh.

Then the circularity of the thing. I know I have to buy/rent a bandsaw to cut curved stones. Again, sheesh.

Then there’s the actual purchase of heaven knows how many tons of paving stones. Yes, tons. One pallet of stones will cover 144 square feet, and it weighs over 2,000 pounds. I don’t have the math skills even to estimate how many square feet this thing is. Kevin?

My interior argument is to go ahead and get started, and by October 25, I can play freaking Aufidius with my shirt off. Let’s see if that happens.

So, anyway, today’s meditation.

The gist of the book’s little screed is that we’re all wounded fellows, don’t you know, who have been abandoned or left to die or something, and that if we just stand tall, and I mean that as a Shakespearean pun, so snicker away, we can all avoid the trap of drugs and destructive behavior. Or something.

You see what I mean?

All right, let’s give this a shot. Grown ups, in the Lylesian sense of the word, figure out soon into their adolescence, if not before, that we’re all alone in this together. Further, it does no one any good to bewail our lonely state in the universe. After all, what does the universe care for our wailing?

(Side note: if there is a God, the same applies. What does s/he care for our wailing? Even if she’s an all-loving God, her attitude would have to be like those of us who have slept through our baby’s insistent screams. At some point, God figures, we have to figure out for ourselves how to get through the night.)

Yes, we’re alone, and yes, it hurts. That’s why I have my family, my kitchen, my music, my blog, Lacuna, the Lichtenbergians. That’s why we have Art. We can amuse ourselves with these connections while waiting for the universe to come to our rescue. Which, as grown ups, we know is not going to happen.

So that “serenity” arrived at by the poor hurt creatures in A Quiet Strength should be the natural state for all of us grown up men. It’s false, of course. I don’t think we can ever shake that sense of wanting to be whole with the universe, but as long as we know that we can pass the time with all these distractions, and that that’s what they are, then I think we can figure out how to get through the night.

Now I think I’ll go light a fire in the labyrinth and sip my martini.

19 thoughts on “Meditation: From separation to serenity

  1. John Bowlby is the legit figure for separation issues. And Alice Miller, queen of the wounded child universe, has pretty much been set aside as too nutty.

    For me, I don’t like the idea of buying a personal mythos of loss and redemption from off a shelf. A personal mythos should be constructed out of one’s own particularity, the “sole species of its own genre.”

    Which means if we are going to lump ourselves into tribes, which men are supposed to need to do, we need to find other kinds of binding.

  2. I want to go back to the Labyrinth part of the post. It provided me with a good laugh. I wasn’t laughing at you Dale (well maybe a little) but rather with you. You see, Dawn, my 98 pound wife decided she wanted a pathway from our front yard to the back so she learned to use paving stones. She read all those instructions also, and then said the heck with it, and tried it her way. She first put in a straight path which we didn’t like after it was done. She then she tore it up and cruved it. When we found some different kind of pavers, we got those and she again tore the path up and used the new pavers as well as sopme of the old ones. Yes it curves and no cutting saw needed. And Dawn hauled all the stones , little by little in our car, and even has two poundy thingys. Dale you should be getting an email from her including some pictures. Now granted our yard is much smaller than Dale’s but if we lived closer Dawn could pave your labyrinth, not in three days, but in far less than 3 years, working in her spare time. So don’t give up hope.

  3. And now for my comments on the second part of Dale’s blog. First of all I suggested Dale use “A Quiet Strength” not because of the content but merely because it had 365 entries, which might give him inspiration to write every day. I fully expected him to go off theme. In fact I am surprised he has stayed with the suggested topics as long as he has.

    Anyway here is the crux of the matter to me with this entry:

    “I don’t think we can ever shake that sense of wanting to be whole with the universe, but as long as we know that we can pass the time with all these distractions, and that that’s what they are, then I think we can figure out how to get through the night.”

    To me that statement is one of the most profound sumumaries of all are philsophical rants about the Other, Void and whether we can experience it or not. In order to explain why I think that way I am going to have to get personal. The people posting on here know my situation, but I am what is called by the general population “dis-abled”. Due to a number of medical issues my body just doesn’t work like most peoples do. However my quadraplegic friend and I would like to see that term “dis-abled” stop being used and switch to “uniquely-abled” because we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. And it is much more inclusive, as it doesn’t stigmatize those of us who can’t use our body parts as well as others, But that is just an aside. The real issue here is that I have only a few hours each day when I have the energy to do anything, and unfortunately those hours usually come from about 1-4 in the morning. (I hope to have a picture on the Lichtenberg page soon to emphasize this but I need my wife’s help with it.) So I chose carefully how I spend my time. Now I know that is true with everybody in terms of only having so much time and energy but one usually only realizes how limited it as they grow older. In my case the post polio is like rapid aging so I feel like I am 20-30 years older than I am. Plus I have the Crohn’s to drain me more. So I know after a couple of hours on the Internet I will collapse into an almost blackout state. My use of energy isn’t physical, it is mental. And that includes reading a challenging book or even watching TV as I am not a passive watcher, but one who is analyzing the acting, directing, but mostly the writing. If the show is bad I may play the “guess the next line game”. Even a couple hours of that wears me out.

    On the other hand during my rest peroids I try to meditate for at least two hours per day. I have been doing that for years. I used to medtiate to have more energy and alertness during my waking hours. But that has changed.

    And finally I get back to the point I originally started at which was Dale’s quote. I see my awake time as distractions from my real time of meditating where I am experiencing who I am inside and my relationship to the Universe. The rest of “stuff” we do is all distraction from that. You know how you react when there is a crisis and your senses sometimes become aware of things you never noticed before. Well my body keeps me in crisis mode all the time so I am always keeenly aware of how I spend my time and what I am doing. And to me it is all distraction. I am amazed that Dale would write such a thing and he didn’t even have to go through years of illnesses to come to such a conclusion.

    Finally I apologize to Dale for hijacking his blog to air my rants. I know this belongs more on the Litchenberg blog or maybe the Lacuna, although with Coriolanus going on I didn’t want to intrude there. I also know I should have my own blog, but there is this energy thing with me…

    I just thought you might want to hear from a different point of view. So analyze away Mark and feel free to disagree Jeff.

  4. That’s the cool thing about the internet, Dale, and blogs in particular. We use the internet to create that connection to the world around us, to travel along it, searching for something- anything to surfboard on (if you’ll allow the metaphor/pun), but the neat thing about the persistence of blogging, yours included, is that it becomes a kind of “active” surfing. You are throwing out a lifeline not just for yourself, but for anyone else to grab on to. Trying to make that connection. I think it’s a positive thing.
    j

  5. Well, of course it’s a positive thing. I never said our distractions were value-neutral. I value each and every one of my distractions, including you, Jobie Johnson, who as far as I’m concerned do not distract me nearly enough.

  6. No, Dale. I feel I’m undervalued if I’m merely a distraction. The question is “connection” with real people. That’s why the internet, and my thread, bears more weight than, say a piece of art (even an unbelievable piece of art- I’ve been working on the “Rent” post for four days.). It’s a genuine connection. I watch “Lost” religously, and there are a few television shows, past and present, that I watch, religiously, and a few books/series that I use to “escape.” Those things are “distractions.” I connect with those characters, and immerse myself in the lives of fictional people because it gives me SOMETHING to latch on to, and _that_ is the distraction from real connection. I think that what you and I, you and Lacuna, I and my students, etc., etc. have: a real connection. Let’s not look at or focus on “distractions” from lack of connection, but real honest to god connection.

  7. “I don’t think we can ever shake that sense of wanting to be whole with the universe, but as long as we know that we can pass the time with all these distractions, and that that’s what they are, then I think we can figure out how to get through the night.”

    We are “whole with the universe,” all the time, but our broken minds, infected with language, trick us into believing that we are not.

    “Distractions,” s-called, help to quiet the mind.

    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

  8. From Jeff’s comment:

    “We are “whole with the universe,” all the time, but our broken minds, infected with language, trick us into believing that we are not.”

    I would agree with that except for the broken mind part. That is the function of our mind, to create the ego that seperates us and makes life interesting, if we can somehow grasp our wholeness with the Universe at the same time. Then life is play, not suffering.

  9. And true the obverse:

    O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a
    king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

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