IV. Process: Layers
The different places within ourselves and the conditions through which we find them
I enjoy the experience of eating donuts, but I don’t often eat them. I like being drunk, but I rarely drink. I feel fortified by eating chicken, but I haven’t had it in months. Health is a goal, but it’s not the only one. Some days I smoke a cigarette, and my mind begins to function in its most optimal capacity.
We tend to describe our preferences and positions in an absolute sense: I like that, I think that, I want that, but while mostly true there is sometimes a tug from some other corner. Part of me wants a donut; its focused on the experience of eating. Another part does not; its related to the feeling afterward. Regarding moral issues: Should I? Doubt is the expression of a different circle of consequence. How does this affect me? How does this affect her? How does this affect everyone?
There are different motives in all of us, that take turns in being expressed. The inner layout they point to is not visible through the short story of what we say we like, what we think. Its not apparent in the snapshot of what we exhibit in a moment.
The balance of to which one, and to what extent, we listen doesn’t tell ‘who we are’ it just describes where we are at a point in a story that can turn.
This is where our experiences come in, our recent influences.
It is not entirely a metaphor to say: I write from different places in myself. Which one I have access to depends. Where I am now, geographically, is the result of a conscious attempt to create the most favorable conditions to flow.
Time has been an expanse of discovery of what did not work, of what got in the way. Many times it was other layers, what from the outside would appear as merely, conclusively: who I am.
Personally it takes hours of sitting outside, reading and not thinking to shift from the mental state that comes with being inside for as little as an hour staring into a screen. With time and entering presence in the moment, I reach a different wave from which everything looks different, feels different.
Most of the times when someone has challenged me to explain what I am trying to build, or when I sit down and try to write, nothing comes. From the surface, where I’ve spent most of my life, I can only attempt to recall certain things from memory, relationships that had first appeared while in deeper states, meanings which were remote from within the normal flow of the mind.
There are layers of us that by default we spend no time in. My first glimpse of this was through the Morning Pages process described by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. It is designed to get you in the habit of not censoring yourself, to express anything that comes up with the understanding that no one will ever read it, in order to help to unlock your creative flow. It is also designed to transfer to paper the ordinary cycle of thoughts that would appear over and over throughout the day, allowing you the mental space and energy for more relevant points of action. I had actually first heard of it from someone who produces electronic music in a seminar. He called it “like taking a mental shit”. Write and write for three pages even if you have nothing to say, for instance: I have nothing to say. After two weeks of this process, I started to enter into things that I had never realized before, that I would not have seen through the debris of automatic mental activity that is otherwise always in the way.
Finding what is meant by being present, and finding how to sustain it has been one of the critical factors for me in reaching a more stable connection to a vision that relates to everything, that seems at first glance, from where we normally are, like nothing. Being in a different place, having time for things to surface, and spending all day outside have also helped.
Speaking or typing gradually pulls me back to the surface and some of the hard edges of what is being expressed here are a reflection of that, the surface of my personality which functions like a filter for something that is infinitely more clear.
Meditative states resolve all mind-based conflicts, and their mind-based solutions, but when we leave them we once again have to speak to each other, and in doing so we assume our mother tongue, the language of separation. You can regularly achieve deep peace, but if you use a knife to solve every problem and accomplish every task you may get some bad results.
So what is more relevant, something that only appears through rare circumstances, or what is easily accessible given how we ordinarily spend our time, what can be easily grasped from between an endless chain of distractions? What defines us, where we always are, or where it is rumored, we could be?
As cooperative creatures, we are susceptible to systems, patterns of relationships that become fixed. The places we spend most of our time inadvertently reinforce particular patterns. The shows and music we listen to provide a theme or an emotional backdrop for a certain type of story, a certain mindset, but not every one. Where we are we enjoy easy access to mechanisms of escape, ways of self-medicating to deal with our regular stressors. We play a particular role within our circle of friends and unintentionally their expectations become something we settle into.
It is a matter of survival that we discover ways of acknowledging what is counterintuitive. That group-wide perceptions clump in a similar fashion isn’t necessarily because they are right. From a distance we can see what someone else appears to be doing, but not why, and so our expectations fill in the blanks, hiding, then, what that action really is. Some ideas, some meanings, some truths are far away because others are easier. Truth then becomes the repetition of convenience, and the world you have to take steps to see, begins to fade as a possibility.
Control requires simplicity. Clarity, or at least the road to its societal expression, has roots in the depths of who we are.