By the time I was four years old I knew something was up, that it was very important and unique and that somehow it was beautiful.
Not to be hokey or anything, but it was the understanding that I was alive and that other people were alive and the earth was really interesting and strangely, I could look at all these other people living, creatures that they were, and I was one of them. I was inside one of these creatures and it was me. I imagine this was the first moment of a bit of consciousness.
I liked that feeling and still do. It makes you very aware and it increases your connectedness to nature and to calm, deep joy. It can also make you feel very separate if other people are not noticing, “the miracle,” or harshing you about it, I say sort of in awe and sort of embarrassingly with a bit of tongue in the cheek (my tongue).
I am not religious, but I was thinking today, since death is the ultimate destination, the ultimate outcome of every story, that no matter how you slice it, this death idea figures quite large in our lives, in our identities, in our fears, in our time tables. No wonder people have built up big things around it. Institutions with architecture, even. Death is so powerful. It always wins. So let them be religious (and perhaps quiet about it so they can notice it all?) When I accept death, I feel very calm. When I do not, I thrash.
My hands have become lizardy. At times, I look at my waist and I think, “How different am I, really, than a gorilla who has been let loose for a long weekend in the Krispy Kreme warehouse?”
But even those things do not matter so much.
(Upon rereading, I noticed that I typed waste instead of waist. Another good reading of that sentence.)
I haven’t changed much since I was four. I often want to get back to the granite rocks with the schist sparkles, in this copse of trees on the edge of the property line of my house where I first sat with these ideas, alone. I was happy to do nothing but sit and be aware of what was around me. To know this was a rare event. (Even if there are zillions of other living creatures in the universe, it is still mathematically rare that there are human mammals and even more mathematically rare, still, that you are actually one of those beasts.) I felt like I was getting away with something, sitting there, not doing anything but noticing. I did not want to get caught doing that. I felt afraid that it was wrong. But deeper, I knew it was the greatest, most enjoyable thing. Perhaps I felt that it was wrong to feel so good, like when you first discover masturbation or chocolate mousse. Then you grow up and people insist on all these other stories, with guns and tits and pecking orders and wins and losses and so many other items. You hang onto them for dear life. But really, it’s just the awareness that lasts.
You can do it all. The action and the awareness. It’s just kind of tiring. But I have also been thinking lately, maybe it's okay to be tired.