20 April 2010 | Underway from Mexico to Marquesas
Don't you ever ask the question: "Hey, what is really - I mean REALLY - going on here?
Break: I have a friend from the Hobart days, an excellent musician and a real character - he knows who I'm talking about, and so will you if you check back on this blog. He's the one who writes the most comments. If you have been following for a length of time you will have noticed I give out two kinds of blog post - the facts and figures, nuts and bolts style of writing, and - the more poetic form, where I attempt to put into words not the outside but the inside of the experience - the heart of the experience, and, when I'm "on a roll" I really enjoy making up words or playing with words - and at times the writing is very good. Okay. But this friend doesn't like it when I depart "The FACTS" and get rosy and flushed and "deep". It's rubbish to him and maybe, just maybe, it IS rubbish. So here is a warning; stop reading now, mate, skip this one because here it comes - more of the "Who, actually, is the 'I' that says 'I like this' or 'I don't want that'?" The Identity Question. And all of you of like mind - Warning: do NOT, under any circumstances, read on!
Speculative theology - and philosophy - are considered meaningless these days, consequently nobody talks about them. Personal goals are discussed endlessly, always in terms of what can I get, how much will it cost, who pays, when can I have it, and so on.
Buying stuff, going places, having experiences or changing one's image - there's endless chatter about such things. Personal philosophies are either (1) too private to talk about ("everyone is different") or (2) boil down to being mere likes and dislikes - political opinions and opinions on every subject, always clashing with some other opinion.
Personal philosophy has always been of prime importance to me - but let's drop that term and call it "getting to the heart of things" or "finding the truth" or "searching for who I am and what is real". Dull terminology too, maybe, but it just means asking the question "what is really going on?"
Let me tell you a little story. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I think I must have been very young. I had a toy. The toys I have had since "growing up" include motorcycles, cars, boats, guitars and all sorts of musical instruments, cameras, stereos, computers, phones, tools, electronics and so on - all these are like lights, that burn brightly for a while against the hard daylight and then go out, but the toys of my childhood are luminous in the dusk of memory. A steam locomotive that works on real steam, a donkey engine, my first bike, a magic trick I built from out of a book where you could pull a string on one side of a pair of wooden tubes (I got these by cutting up a roller blind) and the other string would move, even with no connection! - and a mysterious toy from much earlier - the Dancers.
It was a flat, circular celluloid box, seven or perhaps eight inches diameter, two inches deep - about the size and shape of those Danish biscuit tins you buy for Christmas, transparent (celluloid was the precursor of plastic) and containing some pieces of paper, just pale scraps of paper. Nothing much. But now! - rub the top with your hand! and figures stumble to their feet and whirl and dance and twirl and frolic - the spinning dancers come alive! they come to life to dance! - the only thing they ever did was dance - and when the energy you gave them was exhausted they fell back, and lay as if dead, as if they had never been anything more than little scraps of paper. . . . Now - rub again and they pick themselves up, and dance for you! Just static electricity, you say. No, no, no. That was only the "how" of it. It was, and is, wonderment, joy, and meaning. That's what I'm looking for: meaning.
Well, now. What we have here is an interesting introduction, but to what?
Break: Hey! I told you to stop reading! Most people have, already. But you, my dearest reader, are still here. Okay. Good on you. I feel this way: as Bob Dylan once said to the Beatles - "you have a platform; why don't you use it?' I have a platform here in this blog, so why don't I use it? And I'm 70 years old next birthday - doesn't that give me the right to babble on a bit? Moving on -
Let's approach this slowly. I am at the moment on a circular box, or IN one, picture me at the centre of the silvery sea, moving but staying put, my companion here with me, our ship, day after day the same, routines of eating / defecating / sleeping / waking / tending ship / radio skeds / chart work / engine / fuel handling / sails and deckwork / standing watch / reading / conversing / repairing. That's enough. There's more, but you get the picture? We WILL get to the Marquesas. We WILL get to Australia. It will have happened. But what for?
The dancers. Magic for a little boy. And powerful to his imagination. It was a little sad to see them fall down, exhausted, but then, he could always rouse them, with his energy, if he wanted to. Let's rouse those dancers now. Dream this with me: I (that is, the familiar "I" - me, my body, my ego, my name, personal history and beliefs) rubs the lid. Rubs, like the story of the genie in the bottle. Only here it is dancers, not a genie. Rub, rub and rub some more, put your energy into it! Now we see movement within. Only a little. Rub with all your might!! Ah! they lift, they sway they half-fall and come upright! And dance! Can you see it? The music is provided by your mind. After all - what could the dancers be, if not yourself? A self far freer than the visible, bodily one. "No matter what you think you see / this body is not really me." Can you hear that being chanted? Think of this as a movie if you like - a voyage of the imagination - I'll give you back your usual self afterwards, it'll be like walking out of the cinema onto the street after the movie, you'll be intact, don't worry. But you'll be different, the world will look different, and that's the proof that you ARE changed, after an experience of this kind. Did I say what this kind is? No? It's the kind where you stop, and look inside, and find you are not at all the way you thought you were, not a sum of parts such as: name and address, place of birth, family connections, photo at age six or at age fifty-one, no not the guilty one not the limited one you thought you were. The dancers dance, and the you/I that watches, entranced, is drawn into the dance forgetting for a moment everything you ever did or thought or believed, just being that ecstatic movement, just letting it flow over you and through. There's no harm, only joy. . . .
Now come back to "reality" - and let me ask you: was that not also reality? It may not be able to be verbalized, but it's real, and you can go there again, if you wish. Remember the story of the door in the wall? The beautiful garden inside? He would go there for peace, real peace, and to feel happiness again, but one day he could not find that door; not in that form anyhow.
I have talked enough, written enough. Only remember, the experience of your best childhood memories may yet hold a key for you, a key to your return to peace, happiness and this is real, even though reached through the imagination. It's a beginning.
So - if there is anyone left, reading this, I look you in the eye and smile, we may hug if you wish, or not, as you wish. Bye for now, my friend!
I go on deck to pee. The sea is an indescribable blue - cobalt, verging on purple, but not purple, reminds me of the blue in the rainbow sheen of motor oil but not - yeah, as I said, indescribable.