I wrote this piece a number of years ago now, during a visit to India; my aim at the time was simply to observe and record the machinations of my mind as a way of achieving some distance from it, some freedom from its domination of my life and consciousness.
Commentary on the perspective of this piece
Underlying these attempts were previous experiences of internal silence. Experiences which felt very much like switching off the printout from a computer that lived in my head. Through this kind of observation I have come to realise that consciousness is primary, unitary and fundamental and that the structures and products of mental activity are fragmentary, accidental, conditioned, evanescent and evolving. The trick is to remember the off-switch.
That morning she’d woken up with a feeling of failure, age, lack of time, impatience, clinging to her along with the sweat of the monsoon. Three days in bed had rested and centered her but she could feel the energy of the wild horses which always surfaced in her when she did nothing for too long.
A cool detached one observes the wild impatient ones who want to get out there and do something to justify being alive – or is there yet another one who’s demanding justification?
How many are in there you ask? And what about the one sitting on the chair with pen in hand writing and when the others turn to look at her only one small, excited child – a freshly opened bottle of champagne – remains.
Do we dance off around the room with her for a minute or two or do we sit here working it out?
“I suppose when I look at it clearly I want to give myself to myself, to existence, not to anyone in a personal sort of sense, but just to be, so that I am,” she says to the wall.
“I know it sounds kind of serious and self searching and deep and all that but I really am that kind of a person; no, not always serious but I’ve always felt there must be more to life than what’s on the surface.”
What had really hit her that morning was walking into her housemate’s room and finding the book, an exquisite book of photographs of the Amalfi Coast, so familiar and so precious. The tender memory tinged with sadness that even in such beauty she had not given herself up to the experience totally.
Barring one or two scattered moments, she had tip-toed through Italy like a cheese-paring old spinster. Not to say there hadn’t been sex. But that wasn’t the point – everything so accidental, unsung, controlled, while superficially unplanned.
“I remember how much I questioned everything I was doing at the time; how split I was – not giving myself the space to just be and soak it all in.
“I still do that: I was doing it when I was looking at the book – allowing only tiny openings to the beauty through great grey clouds of self-accusation.
“So what you’re saying is you’d like more silence in your life. You’d like to shut up sometimes and give yourself a break.”
“Not just sometimes – I’d like to shut up for good”
“But would it be safe – surely you need me,” a voice chimes in.
“I think we can take that risk don’t you.”
And it starts all over again….
There is a vase of beautiful, sweet-smelling Indian roses on the desk.