Saturday, March 03, 2007

Eye of the Storm


I woke up this morning with a deep feeling of gratitude. I slept for twelve hours last night, roughly from 8:30 pm to 8:30 am. I was exhausted. Last week kicked my ass and next week will kick my ass. But this is my little moment at the eye of the storm. I woke up, and although the kitchen is a wreck, I managed to throw together a bowl of cereal and some espresso. Craig is off to a meeting and I have time and space for quiet reflection before I force myself up off the couch and go take a shower. The house is quiet. The older I get, the more I love silence.

I never thought I would cherish simplicity, but I begin to. A few years back, my brother and his then-fiancée came to visit Craig and me. I took them to the Seattle Art Museum so that my sister-in-law could have a smattering of culture to brighten her trip. In one of the rooms of the museum there was a whole Japanese tea house. I do not know how it is that the Japanese learned so much about aesthetics, but I was deeply moved by the teahouse. It was constructed in such a way so that looking at it produced calmness and serenity. The photographs of tea houses I find on the web really don’t have the same effect. The aesthetics of a photograph are rarely the same as the aesthetics of viewing something live, especially when the object is three-dimensional. But I would like to return to that teahouse and discover its secret. The artist clearly possesses techniques that I don’t understand. Those are the techniques I require in my life.

The aesthetics of my life used to be the aesthetics of momentum. As the narrative was about constant, directed, creative change, the present didn’t really count for much. The pleasure of an aesthetic of momentum is watching the present dissolve like wax thrown into boiling fat. My life moves much more slowly now and the present counts for so much more. Indeed, from an aesthetic viewpoint, the present is everything now. There is still change in my life, but the change is slow and incremental. From an emotional perspective, the future seems so far away now. When I could move quickly, I could see the change before my eyes. Now, I can really only discover change, and only when I look backward and think about the past is a precise way. Life changes in small increments. I no longer exist at an emotional frontier where the present dissolves into the future. The present seems to drag on for all eternity, much as it did when I was a child. I see the changes only by use of historical technique. This, then, is the aesthetic of plodding. As a child, I viewed this as a jail sentence, something to be escaped through ingenuity. Apparently, that was the wrong answer. Kobayashi Maru. I clearly missed the point of the exercise.

My therapist Micheal used to tell me that I most focus on being the tortoise, not the hare. He and I derived such different morals from that fable. Micheal derived “slow by steady wins the race.” My response was, “The rabbit lost because he was lazy. Fuck slow but steady. Just keep working.” Well, whatever the correct interpretation of the hare’s behavior, like it or not, I am now the tortoise, not the hare. I must live in the present in a world where the transformative effects of my labor are not readily apparent. I need the aesthetics of the Japanese tea ceremony. Perhaps one of the reasons I have never been able to “capture the moment” in writing is because I have never lived in the moment. I think it is time that I learn how.

4 comments:

Mr. Myagi said...

Humm...you are lost and seek words of wisdom and contemplation. It is a shame that I the enlightened do not have a boe to smack across your head. Maybe then you would find enlightenment;

Grasshopper:

Before you can rush off and understand the Tea Cermeony, you need to start at the beginning and work yourself towards it.

First you must master the concepts of the Tao and then move to Zen Buddism. You must understand the Japanese and the "why" and the "who".

You must take the time to learn the path before you can walk it. Once you "know" the path, then you must take the time to walk it. Once you "walk" the path you must take the time to understand why.

You will know once you have found enlightenment.

You must journey hard to find the path, it will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. I am not sure your current methods are leading to a greater opening for you. Studying the middle east and politics is easy for you. You need to shift directions and focus on what you are not.

The path begins and ends with you...and until you pick up a few books on cleary you will only look at the road and wonder why.

Cuphound said...

The book that Sean has been on my case to read is at this link.

I've requested it at the library, but you're going to have to be patient. You may have noticed the bit about the saucer below. I move slowly.

Mark Polo said...

Hi Talal.
I'm trying to get in touch with you, but I didn't get an answer when I wrote to your old hotmail account. You can reach me (after correcting the hopefully obvious spelling and punctuation errors) at mblander.legionaries@orc

Fr. Mark LC

Mr. Myagi said...

For the love of God man...please update your post so that I stop coming into the face of that loser Brett Favre..or whatever his name is. Everyday I log in to check what is new and what do I see...a Green Bay tribute site.

Of other impotant points, South Park is getting a bit dry and the only character I can relate to is Eric Cartman. He is my cartoon hero.