even the dead are some kind of living

“Removing the distance between doing and thinking” inspired a string of thoughts from my co-conspirator in this book club. This made me think of a recent email from my sister, who noted how many of my past actions didn’t match how I thought of myself, or how I projected what I thought of myself. It occurs to me that this is hardly an isolated issue: many of us think highly of ourselves, or aspire to, and also act kind of shit now and then. I cannot change an action of mine from the past, or an action of one of my ancestors–but I can change how it is perceived by me, I can play with the energetic imprint something has. The past never quite dies away, but we can tune the way that it resonates.

Another idea that resonated with me in this chapter was the relationship between attention and learning. Gordon White related how Matawhero sat on his family’s land for months and months, attention fully there, to learn from the land and its inhabitants how he might go about re-inhabiting this land. When we direct our full attention on a flower, a child, a project idea, a lover, an illness–we might learn quite a bit about how to proceed. Reminds me of Louis Kahn, architect:

 You say to a brick, ‘What do you want, brick?’ And brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ And you say to brick, ‘Look, I want one, too, but arches are expensive and I can use a concrete lintel.’ And then you say: ‘What do you think of that, brick?’ Brick says: ‘I like an arch.’

Louis Kahn, quoted in The Guardian.

But what do we do with deception, lies, or competing voices? Is this where that magic word discernment needs to take a stand?

It takes years of training. Quiet. Observation. Paying attention. Attention. Slow down and let the thoughts come. Let them all come. And let them go.

It’s a strange to-do list:

  1. Narrow the distance between thinking and doing
  2. Pay attention
  3. Try both simultaneously? Does that even work?

#1 Reminds me of flow-state, and of dancing freely, unchoreographed. I don’t have a set plan for movements when I dance, though I do look around the room at others, at times imitating, and I do respond to the music, and the space itself. It certainly doesn’t look pleasing, not something you’d pay a ticket to see. So where does expression fit in, and craft? I’ll sleep on that one.