Study No. 5
In the same generation that comes with disposable printers and computers whose insurance cost almost half as much as new one, there is an ironic mentality that is against Shoulds. Instead of focusing on feeling bad – because it wasn’t like you should have done that, been that, thought that, known that – treat yourself to a new, to a better, to a cuter, to a more stunning - really you ‘ought to. In a useful and annoying way I am of the generation that perpetuates the emancipation of self, the validation of self, the gratification of self, the trust of self, by never saying never, and never saying should. The problem is, sometimes I really believe in Should. I really feel like I should care that water is going to become a valuable and limited resource before my time is due; I really feel like I should mind that millions are dying from AIDS without compassion or proper care; I feel like I should care that the ancient rainforests are being cut down for cookie cutter wholesale furniture. I feel like I should care that imperialist powers and religious crusades are still being waged under the auspice of Righteousness. I feel like I should care that while I write this millions, billions, are suffering somewhere because of sales in Walmart or Kmart or any mart for that matter.
And it isn’t even a matter of Should. I don’t feel I should feel these ways. I do. It is a matter of What should I do? Which is related to What can I do? Which is related to What will I do? And it’s intimately tangled up in my thought about the yarn and the sand. Will what I do, matter? Do any of my Shoulds, or my Wills, or my Dos have any weight compared to the weight of all these Things and all this Stuff?
Study No. 6
I believe in signs. I believe in sign language and in sine waves. I believe in thought waves. I believe thought is mightier than the bomb. I believe in something the New Age calls the astral plane, which I believe is not new age but timeless. (Whatever its name, I believe in a dimension of thought where ideas meet outside the mind and energies train without distraction.) I believe in quantum mechanics and that time is nonlinear. I believe in timings. (I once saw myself waiting for the bus from a birds-eye view, and then floated around the city looking for an apartment. I am living in this apartment now.) I suppose in some languages I believe in magic, but I don’t believe in the word, magic. I believe in meetings. I believe in the musicality of meetings. I believe in mirrors and mapmaking. I believe in a middle way.
I believe in verticality – in height and depth and all things round. I believe what goes around comes around. I believe in recycling. I believe in realness and rawness and rivers and clouds.
I believe the world can be known in a grain of sand and a life can be seen in the lines of a hand. I believe in balance. I believe in natural balance. I don’t know if I believe in right. I believe in center. I believe that sometime maybe near maybe far, the glass tower will tip, the calendars will clear and something I have no way of knowing or believing will happen. Or not. I don’t believe my actions would change this but I believe they could. I believe that Shoulds are as flimsy and fortified as Woulds and Coulds without a Do. I believe a wing can cause a rainfall. I say it because I believe it must be said more, I believe in love. I don’t know if I have hope but somewhere I believe I still have faith.
I believe in "following a path that draws itself and drawing a path that follows a flow." I believe in alignment. I believe in signs. I believe in sign language and sine waves. I believe in taking the time to notice. I believe in taking the time to see. I believe in taking the time to witness. There are things I have experienced I don’t understand and I believe I may never know the answers. I believe in taking the time to question.
I am not even going to brush my teeth first, or do the dishes, or make the bed or pay the bills. I am not even going to wait for the coffee to be brewed and the quiche to be warmed. It has been a lazy morning already, and the stories in my head are much quicker than these fingers could ever transcribe, or a pen skate across a page. I would rather trace a thought as it forms itself than recall a detail of a passed moment. So, although I have nothing in particular to say right now, I will write nonetheless. And I will call this entry my morning pages, written before too much influence from the beyond (me) can color my consciousness and paint quiet judgment upon the freed thought. For in this freeing, I will find myself opening to newness, which might not be a novel newness, but at least a freshness, like when an idea spun too many times ‘round gasps to see its own core.
Admittedly, I spend less time talking to others and more time talking to myself. I feel somehow a failure before I even begin, knowing that a complete dialogue can never be long enough to trace the object first, knowing too that every object deserves its own convoluted context which also includes the convoluted subject. If you talk to me you must know that for every opinion I voice I know the other inside equally true. And for everything I feel, there is a history to account for the exact recipe of experience and justification that make it just so, for now. For almost everything I have done there has probably too been a small purpose, even when the purpose was to have no purpose. The point is, there are small things I keep to myself, not cleverly but because there is simply no room for the details. Because the second point is that anyone who is remotely interesting is inevitably filled with dangerous and beautiful contradiction. Even if someone wanted to spend their waking life poring over your silent stories - to decode you a bit further, to dig up a maze of quiet intentions and mute musings - still then would the mystery remain loyal to itself. Still then would the poem continue to sing.
What I mean is that there is always room for more insight, more compassion, more understanding and so on, but no matter how loudly, or softly which is usually better, or clearly, or simply we let ourselves be known, some part of ourselves will never be known by another; inevitably some words will slide between the seam at that precise point where my exhale meets your listening. This is not a complaint. It is a fact. I am not saying that we are never understood. I am saying that we are never fully known, which is a matter of both capacity and volume. There are, too, secrets inside myself I am sure I don’t even know I once promised to keep from myself. There are little islands of experience and sensation that I cannot recall but can spot an impression of from a foggy distance. I am sure there are things I don’t even know I don’t even know, but even that I can’t be sure of. I am not trying to be dramatic, or melancholy, or nostalgic or cleverly mysterious. It is exactly the inevitable mystery between us that keeps you guessing and me questioning and us beautiful and we growing. I am saying what arises now, and perhaps when I re-read this later I too will misunderstand or fail to see the inner thread that drew the phrase out of me. What I am trying to translate is something I felt today while lying in bed watching thoughts paint landscapes and lives that I felt were somehow me, including and especially the landscapes. I am a secret waking and a secret walking. He is a secret loudly planning dinner, or nervously searching for keys. She is a secret making love and a secret making a living. You are a gentle secret, a loud one, a laughing one, a serious one, a sacred one, a sad one. More often than I’d like I am a mundane secret with nothing unusual to whisper in your ear. But today I want to whisper carefully, as clearly as I can, knowing that some parts will be heard and others not, some will be twisted and others turned. I will not worry about it, and this knowing will not stop my starting. Because even in the power of choosing what, or how, or when, or why - even in the most vibrant moment of that charged second before I tell you what I am about to say, there I will be, naked and incredibly bare, anticipating irrevocable exposition in the ‘ecstasy of communication’ - quivering like a leaf between ripples, or like a young girl bowing shyly into a mirror, from which you will be bowing back, rippling like a wave.
In my imagination there are a million and one things I would do. Like everyone I would invent a machine and traverse time. I would run faster than a speeding bullet and in that way service gun control. I would hike through the Himalayas and heal children with herbs. I would ride a Harley through the Sahara with nothing on but an angel above my head. I would raise monkeys in a mountain valley. I would grow a garden and guard endangered species. I would skip rather than walk. I would skip work and make love instead. I would be a rock star. I would grow wings and fly. I would fly to the moon and wave to passengers in planes. I would create a device to download dreams and I would make movies from memories. Or, I would write a book. Yes, I would write just one book, and it would be distributed in many chapters. And at the back of the book, like an epilogue, there would be a phone book. It would be thicker than the book itself. Numbers would need to be exchanged and strangers would be obliged to meet in order to read the rest. And people would want to read the rest. Because it would be surprising, and graceful and provocative and poetic, and touching and human and animal and daring and darling and peaceful and quiet and dangerous and magical and lovely. And people wouldn’t just meet to pass the chapters through the brushing of sleeves; with the pages they would pass a quick glance and a smile, a smile of what? that would travel through the very depths of the person they were meeting for the very first time. And in that quick glance - for they both had places to go and things to do - there would be a million meetings. There would be untold secrets and confessions and embraces of lost family and found friends, colleagues and competitors, traitors, lovers, teachers. And though just a peek, it would dive like a diamond through layers of lives lived and that would count as a looking. Some might even notice a moment of stillness where neither ripple nor wave washed over either, and in that noticing there would grow a smile. And in that smile – a smile of what? there would be no pretense of knowing why, but there would be a knowing nonetheless - a knowingless knowing that didn’t need to know which side of the fence they were standing on, or in what shoes they stood. Some would embrace but it would be brief, because they would not pretend they were not strangers, but in that brief moment arms would wrap aeons. In that simple exchange of papers passing through hands without tax or bargain or any numbers but phone numbers, worlds would hover, poised between rise and fall, between hello and good-bye, between prologue and sequel. Beyond that there would be a murmur in the ethers - an energetic language speaking nothing of ideas and imposing nothing of feelings. It would be something untouchable, something unnamable, something sublime and complex, something magic and gentle, something funny and vital and necessary and forgiving and surely something much lighter than nothing and much more weighted than the sum of All Things. And it would be running off the gutters and spilling into the streets. It would be blowing leaves from trees and slowing their fall to the ground. Yes, it would be a storm of sorts. It would be a quiet invasion. It would be a sweeping. It would be a brushing. And a clearing. Or a Dusting. And a dying. But also a building. It would be a becoming. Also a being. And a bowing. It would be a singing. And a softening. And a surrendering. And a seeing.
There would be many things, infinite possibilities of (things) Great and Things small that would happen once this book would be written and read. It would be distributed at a performance. The performance would be graceful even in its violence. It would be abstract even in its clarity. It would be precise even in its spontaneity. There would be no program notes explaining this or that. There would be no bios.
-Chanti Wadge, 2005