dailybell: Midway through the Year!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Midway through the Year!

Gravity, Wind and Death ... Reflections At Six Months
July 1st was the 183rd day of the year. Because of the leap day this year, that makes July 1st the midway point of the year and of this project. It seemed like a good point to reflect on what I have observed and learned so far.

I have come to more fully understand the nature of the commitment I made at the beginning of the year. I am at the point where I realize that I could stop now if I wanted to. I am not compelled to continue; however I wish and choose to do so. It is not because I vowed to observe the sun as it crossed the horizon each day and to ring bells at those moments. I have internalized the practice and integrated it into my daily life. By doing this, I have come to understand something about the nature of vows. It’s probably obvious to others, but I’ve always had to “learn the hard way” as my grandmother was so fond of pointing out to me.

Making a commitment to do something regardless of what may happen (like taking a marriage vow, for instance) ensures that one will honor the commitment in the face of the unknown. One will persevere if and when it becomes difficult to do so. It’s the hanging in there that produces a shift. The shift that I experienced was from external practice to the internalization of the “why”. It’s very hard to describe. It’s as if the repetition and commitment were necessary to achieve a certain state of mind and understanding that would not have been possible in any other way.

Again, I am only speaking for myself. I am one of those people who learns by direct experience much more effectively than by abstraction. I feel as if I am on the edge of understanding something about the elemental. It has something to do with the value of regular, conscious and direct experience with those things that don’t change and don’t rely on human intervention- like the movement of the earth. Or things that are inevitable- like death. Our close relationship and awareness of these things present opportunities to be grounded and to recognize the ways in which we are all related to the physical world and to one another.

So I have started to think more about other things that could be considered undeniable, incontrovertible- ultimate truth - type of things like the movement of the earth and death. I am not a scientist, so I am merely musing from the position of an observer and speculator. However, as far as the movement of the earth is concerned, besides the sunrise and sunset, there is gravity. We can start with the evidence and observation of the physical force of gravity in our lives and move out from there. The observation of the effect of gravity in our lives is another place to begin to notice the ways in which we are all connected.

I think that all of this is also a way to prepare us and to help us think about and deal with death and the inevitability of our own mortality. Maybe the overarching conceptual frame has a lot to do with Buddhism and the practice of awareness, but I am also trying to narrow the frame for a moment to something contained and directed. Something that encompasses the personal- like the availability of the breath- yet also something that can be visibly and consciously shared with many other people at the same time. That’s part of it. The sunrise and sunset. Gravity. Wind (the movement of air). And yes, mortality.

I am interested in the ways we experience these things sonically – listening and making sounds as a way to both observe what is happening as well as to mark the moment in order to share the experience with others.

Focusing on and being reminded of how we are all connected to each other and to the world – at least in that moment of awareness- anchors us in reality. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. Speculation of all kinds. For a moment it all ceases. Maybe with practice we can become more adept at separating out what is real from what is imagined.

1 comment:

pnewl said...

I really appreciate this piece. I have wondered if you had any regrets about making this commitment and it makes me realize the limited number of commitments in my life right now and wonder if that's yet another part of the "flailing" feeling I have right now. Thanks for making me think...even at 4:50am. i think i have some bells in my Christmas box. I can probably find them by sunrise. Thanks for the wake up call! pegy