“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” Plato
I may have found someone else’s “other half,” who knows, it happens. But I believe the parts are interchangeable and after years of reckless folly Larry and I have refashioned ourselves. Now we fit together quite nicely, as if a favorite pair of jeans, or those bands of gold we wear around our ring fingers. #couplesgoals
We have opposing views as one would expect coming from two sides of the same coin, but both of us have learned how to back-peddle quite skillfully, and we’ve become accustomed to spending time in each other’s shadow. Oh, and at high noon, when both of us can enjoy the sunshine, that’s when we’re at our best.
We’re up at the lake this week, it’s my final week of teaching remote before we go back into the classroom, and we thought while they’re in the middle of demolishing our house we might as well sequester ourselves up at the lake. It’s remote, it’s quiet, and while my other half has my back what could go wrong?
I’ll tell you what, someone took a bite of forbidden fruit, and has been jettisoned from the garden. It was a earn your bread by the sweat of your brow sort of thing.
Larry has to return to the Bay Area, duty calls, he awoke in the dark to make the long trek back home, and still be able to make his early morning calls from his home office. Which ended up being quite difficult with all the ruckus going on around him. Who knew jackhammering old tile could be so loud? He had to sweat it out so to speak.
I got up leisurely, Eve like, and was delighted to find a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me in the kitchen (did I mention he’s my better half). The fact that I can stay in my pink slippers all day and still teach my classes is making me giddy. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yeah! Pretty soon I won’t own anything but slippers! #RetirementPerks
As I’m putzing around the house, tidying up the kitchen, folding laundry, preparing lessons on the Paschal Mystery of all things, I start thinking about the snake that suddenly appeared in the house last summer, and those huge spiders that took shelter in my closet during fire season.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me? I have no control over my thoughts and worse my “better half” deals with the spiders and snakes. I deal with dust, decor, and plant hydration. I also get a little nebby with the kids when necessary and occasionally get a little manic over a tidy shower. St. Teresa says it is of great importance not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts. And she’s a saint.
As I push away images of venomous animals, the next thought I am struck with has to do with all the obscure noises I usually ignore, but now sound menacing in the presence of such absolute silence. I’m isolated, not in the COVID sort of way, as in there are no neighbors in adjacent houses or across the street. I’m not sure why I think a murderer should decide to take me out precisely when my “other half” is away, but we’ve been watching the Night Stalker on Netflix, with a strong “lock your doors” theme, maybe I should rethink the pink slippers.
This is how my mind works, it’s untamed, as if a zebra or wild boar. I have no way of filtering my own thoughts or illusions. Thank God we can’t read each others minds. Can you imagine the chaos of deciphering your own thoughts from that of your “other half?”
“Cheryl, we don’t need another scented candle, book of poems, or bunny ring holder right now. Can we just go an entire month without an Amazon box landing on our doorstep?”
“I didn’t order anything (yes, my cart is full, but I have not proceeded to checkout).”
“You didn’t have to, I can hear your thoughts, and by the way I deleted your entire cart.”
“Well guess what Buddy? I also know what you’re thinking and let me just say that’s not happening for a month either.”
Amit Ray says beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful. He came up with some Om meditation and now he claims with a little practice we can filter our own thoughts. Obviously he hasn’t been watching the Night Stalker.
The fact remains, our experience of the world is limited by our mind, it’s our only tool for encountering reality, and making any sense of it.
I’ll admit this, my mind as a muscle has atrophied. I’d like to blame COVID, Zoom, or too much coffee but my mind refuses to exert herself. She’s become lazy during the pandemic and does not walk her talk. She sits cross-legged on the floor tries to chant. Total fail.
We have no concept of our full potential.
Sam Harris explains it this way, you know how the stars at night in the city are invisible due to all the light pollution, but when you’re up at the lake the sky is congested with so many stars and constellations it’s sort of mind-blowing. I’m summarizing people, work with me. Sam claims the potential of our minds to observe one’s reality is similar to that of a city dweller, who doesn’t even bother to look up because they’ve never seen the night sky in its full splendor and glory. Imagine that.
Mindlessness, my personal malady, is the city dwellers, because we don’t know what we’re missing. Those of us who have observed a sky without light pollution can never undo the experience, this is how it is with the mind, and apparently meditation.
Harris says distraction is the normal condition of our minds. Most of us fall from the wire every second, toppling headlong-whether gliding happily in reverie or plunging into fear, anger, self-hatred, and other negative states of mind. Meditation is a technique for breaking this spell, if only for a few moments. The goal is to awaken from our trance of discursive thinking-and from the habit of ceaselessly grasping at the pleasant and recoiling from the unpleasant-so that we can enjoy a mind that is undisturbed by worry, merely open like the sky, and effortlessly aware of the flow of experience in the present. Booyah!
Sharon Salzberg has a much simpler explanation, she says it is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. Its never too late…
Meditation is deceptively simple but extraordinarily profound says Sam Harris and he should know he has an app.
So I’m giving myself a 30-day challenge to spend a brief amount of time every morning using the Waking Up app on my iPhone and exploring the benefits of meditation. I’m four days in and I’ll let you know if it “illuminates” my current reality, or if this city dweller can experience the vastness of the mind regardless of night stalkers.
I think this is all very Platoish, like in the myth of the men who have been chained in a cave throughout their entire lives. The only thing they can see is a the cave’s wall. They have never been able to exit the cave. They also have never been able to turn around and see the origin of the chains which bind them.
This might be the origin of the old ball and chain trope?
However, behind them there is a wall and a little farther still there is a bonfire. Between the wall and the bonfire there are men who carry objects. Thanks to the bonfire, the shadows of the objects are projected onto the wall. Thus, the chained men can view them.
Plato believed there was a relationship between physical things and the world of ideas. The shadows are their only basis of reality, but it’s a false reality because they refuse, or are unable to turn, and see beyond the shadows.
Does this remind anyone else of the modern day man-cave?
So frickin metaphoric and as you know I love this stuff.
The good news is there is a simple way out of the cave. It is sitting silently while witnessing the thoughts passing before you. Osho says it takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, because you are not the mind, you are the witness. This is what Zeus was afraid of, when we expand our vision beyond the self we validate each other, and this is when we are our most powerful.
I’m Living in the Gap, between the witness and the mind, care to join me?
- “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Plato
- “The Way to do is to be.” Lao Tzu
- “Meditation needs no results. Meditation can have itself as an end, I meditate without words and on nothingness. What tangles my life is writing.” Hélène Cixous