Self-help books on writing I have read tell us to plan. To know or at least to have some shape to knowing what will unfold. This never worked for me so I never finished a book. As I write now I do not know where each sentence will take me, I only know it is a journey into myself. It begins as a flickering stream of notions, like frames from a crude animation, then filling in more frames to smooth the jerkier movements. Perhaps this now over-populated art of blogging will work for me.
I began today by investigating something not quite right in myself, searching dark places that often colour my moments alone with shadows. I know this to be the place where my deepest learning occurs, where I refer my instincts and impressions and convert them into perceptions and knowings. I note the parallel with writers, painters and comedians who say they would not be without their depression or ‘manic depression’ for fear of losing their muse. I am lucky not to suffer any form of permanent depression. My sensitivity is caused by both traumatic experience and practise as well as a history coloured by childhood depression.
What I have found while listening to this familiar yet always new space is that it is the place from which I come out. The fissure in a dark recess of this cavern from which fresh, clear water flows. This is the same place that I have visited during meditation, while dying (or almost dying, if you like) and at the onset of great shock. It is physically located beneath the diaphragm, but reaching deep beyond the physical.
Dwelling today in this dark void or cavern of knowing and unknowing I understand that this is not a subject for more trauma therapy, nor a life-long burden to be borne until someday I realise some ecstatic truth or moment that could wash it away. I understand that it is an occasion to realise. I know from experience that breathing into this space unpleasant feelings would fade releasing a depth of engagement. It becomes clear that what I seek is there in that space and that it needs nothing more.
This is my richness to share, and on this occasion I found myself wanting to share an insight that is so instictive to me that I am no more conscious of it than a person might be of speaking in their customary accent. I suppose I might call this ‘sharing my truth’ and I really wish that expression had not become so overused, but that is the reason I write at all.
Now my lightly sketched blueprint gathers bones and sinews, flesh and processes, shapes, forms and impressions, but nothing quite so sharp as a Rembrandt or Van Eyck. It has a life and If I wait until I can see the skin of ‘my truth’ looking back at me in the mirror it will be too late. That life will have gone. I will have gone also.
I have a story in my head, that you might at this point decide you do not wish to follow this unknown journey, that the dark twists and turns are too obscure and subterranean for your hasty tastes, for which I am not judging you for I too sometimes want something to get to the point quickly so I can get on with what I was doing. If you are in haste, then please come back when you have time and are not holding your breath. If you wish to continue, please read on… and breathe.
The way I write mirrors the way I realise.The influence of other writing styles can be a struggle, and I recall, I think, Doris Lessing when asked what paper she read saying “Oh no, I don’t read newspapers. I don’t want my writing to be infected by journalism”, something like that. Unfortunately I do read journalese and other cultural forms, and when my brain begins to write in my head it often mimics the style of upmarket journalism and more recently of Guardian weblogs. While this is useful when writing about ‘an issue’ because it matches expectations like the branding on a soup-can label, it is destructive to a free and truthful creative process.
This is where I will begin to stop apologising to the world in general and be a light unto myself and that specific light unto others that no-one else can be. In a way this is me introducing myself to you, what they used to call apologia.
When I say ‘my truth’ the parentheses are as significant as the words. I do not fully know ‘my truth’ any more than you do. Or any more than you do yours, probably. Already I hope that you, if you are still here following or attempting to follow this narrative, begin to see that you may not know what will follow just because of what you have seen so far. If this is a journey, right now we are passing a Bosporus, and now we are in a flat land with lakes, and as the land begins to rise and harden, smooth, hard ancient rock so worn it is difficult to imagine it was ever mountains. Then suddenly Mount Ararat, or something like it, jutting up unlikely in an otherwise flat terrain. I hope this will be as fresh and surprising.
I begin with what may seem a mystery.
Somewhere, in deep space, if you like, I believe there exists a potential. A potential among countless, probably ‘infinite’ other potentials. Beyond our grasp in numbers, like atoms that exist within the planet’s atmosphere, those kinds of quantities, immeasurable. My potential is one such grain, one such atom, and everything that follows is a pointer towards that potential, firstly for myself and then for anyone who wishes to share in it, resonate with it, find inspiration for the release of their deep-space-frozen potential that it may be unfrozen and radiate into their lives and elsewhere. For is this not one of the greatest purposes of growth and development?
This is the place I imagine is concerned with infinite variety. We have come to know this locally as biodiversity. In our daily lives we tend to forget the scope of it, but for example,100 years ago there were 493 varieties of lettuce and lettuce seeds in existence. In 1983 there were only 36. Similarly 544 varieties of cabbage have become 28 and so on and on. In terms of flora and fauna no-one knows how many species there are and how many lost, but to quote the World Wildlife Fund (WWF):
- The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.*
- These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct each year.
- If the low estimate of the number of species out there is true – i.e. that there are around 2 million different species on our planet** – then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
- But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true – that there are 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet – then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.
*Experts actually call this natural extinction rate the background extinction rate. This simply means the rate of species extinctions that would occur if we humans were not around.
** Between 1.4 and 1.8 million species have already been scientifically identified.
I believe a good measure of this diversity is to ask myself “Why is there not just one of each? One perfectly evolved plant form and one perfectly evolved animal?” I can think of many reasons, of course, just from a layman’s understanding of biology and botany, diversity is more resilient. This is our fear about mono-cropping, that if companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Cargill continue to reduce the species of wheat or soya, maize or millet to one or two then a single disease could make that entire genus extinct.
I am filled with excitement that the Earth may be seen as a laboratory. Even Darwin’s theory of evolution supports such a view, though I believe that his is not a true portrayal of all life on Earth, it is true of some mechanical events. A laboratory of trial and error, of success and failure, although survival of the fittest is something we as a species and guardians of wildlife need to forget.
So why not extend the idea of a laboratory to the entire universe, a laboratory in which one of the greatest puzzles to science (even the sexy modern cosmology type) has occurred. The right conditions for life. …
In the beginning was the void… and out of the nothingness, something was born… and it failed… and was born… and it failed… and it was driven by a spontaneous urge to be.. it failed… it struggled and flailed and finally reached an accommodation with itself, a third possibility, some other thing that could hold the nothing and the something together in the same space so that it did not spontaneously disappear into the void of its own contradiction, an urge appeared and remained, an urge to exist, to persist, and so it must have remained before time was born. This was life. This was the small light of consciousness. This is the root of my personal belief system call it religion or a loaf of bread, I don’t care.
Forget the ‘Big Bang’ – something like that may or may not have happened once, ten, a thousand or trillions of times, but without an urge it was nothing but a meaningless eruption that came and faded just as quickly… could this be the background noise you hear, oh cosmologists and subatomic anoraks? The static of a billion failed emergences which you choose to call creation, strangely? However much you slice and dice, collide and measure, pinpoint and split with your double slits you know you will never really know anything but mathematical patterns of correlation with an endless and futile search for a joy that will never be yours ‘out there’ or ‘in there’, only here, within yourselves.
My position, then, is that Human life is subject to the same laboratory condition. There have been developments and hybrids, probable mistakes, unexplained appearances but there have never been as many species of Human as there were of lettuce or cabbage. Just a handful. It does seem that if we view species as a hierarchy from simple to complex with Humans as clearly the most complex, the simpler the form, the more the types from single-cell creatures, bacteria, coral and insects etc to the more complex, rhinos, elephants, non-domestic cats and finally us.
Most of all the difference between us and animal life is that they are complete, finished, perfect, have nowhere to go, no aspiration but to survive and live and play and to procreate. They are perfect in their heaven, which idea lays a much larger burden of responsibility upon us to respect their unique and beautiful place in existence, right here, at planetary level.
The diversity in Humans begins with a different face, with minor exceptions, else how would evolution occur? So continuing “somewhere in deep space.. ..there exists a potential”, I call in this context ‘The Void’, is that there exists a range of possibility for every form of existence including Human life; each one as unique as their face, as the space they occupy, as the trace of their moment to moment history and journey through life. This potential is like a puzzle to be unlocked or a super-genetic pattern. With flora and fauna life it is finished. With Human life it is different. Not just in minor variations of appearance but in those realms of the mind and heart that make us different from each other, not forgetting the experience of each soul.
Human is something else, of course it is. Do you really believe the most sophisticated ape or pig or sea mammal could in a trillion godsquillion years type this blog, consider its origins and the origins of the universe? These are not the small physical or genetic variations between say us and chimps. The differences are in the complexity of our faculties. Our ability to abstract, to record and create arts that nature does not. Our uniqueness includes the brilliant gifts and developments of speech, thought, self-awareness, conscious questioning endeavour and expressions in culture from music to writing, philosophy to religion and ceremonial, from science and technology to life-style and self-identification.
Of course we are supernatural beings. The Mona Lisa is a supernatural expression. Did it grow on a tree? Beethoven’s 9th symphony is supernatural, I hear the evidence of it in the depth and complexity, the sheer joie de vivre of the third movement adagio molto e cantabile, any form of art from Robert Plant singing Stairway to Heaven to Banksy scrawling artfully on a wall is supernatural. Of course it is. We were made to create supernatural expression that this beautiful Earth cannot, awe-inspiring though her multiple and diverse arts are, and when we lose that awe, then we become sterile machinery, not much more than ‘a body’. We are still able to be freed from the shackles of familiarity and too much personal involvement, but are out of function until we become uncomfortable enough to break free again.
I believe that Human life is born with a ‘cosmic genetic’ or blueprint which is not fully realised, and this is the source of alteration and development, aspiration and true individuality where it actually exists. It is however most likely in several states, much like water can be fluid, frozen or vaporous. Some potential is easily accessible and is anyway probably stored in our physical genes, but the parts that are truly free of predetermination are harder to unlock. Frozen, only to be released by an intense processing of all that we are.
Thus one of the purposes of Human life is for each woman and man to struggle towards the realisation of all that they can be, beyond their education and upbringing, their gender or ethnicity, their life-style, class or self-image. In that void place in each one of us that I sense as beneath the diaphragm, from which our existence flows, there is a connection to, a resonance with that ‘cosmic genetic”. The aboriginal Kalahari Bushmen called this feeling their ‘tapping’ and looked to the night sky for its origin.
Thus the purpose of our lives is to be unique, not in our ego, for that is merely conforming to a cultural style that has become almost ubiquitous, but in our deep processing and radiation, so we are distinct from others in the way we happen which is our first art of appearance. The urge to be unique is within us all, but is so often expressed through personality alone rather than the actualisation and radiation of our essence, the maturity and transmission of inner property so that others may sense it if they are free enough of cultural noise to notice.
A world composed of such real individuals would be unrecognisable from the world we live in. The endeavour, might then be a much much deeper and more mysterious matter. However the character of Human interaction and relationship would be otherworldly in its richness, creativity and living art process and produce. A world free of conformity, with a diversity possibly great enough to end for once and for all our habitual familiarity with ourselves and our place in a magical world and universe.
As the Human realises all that they can be, attains their genius beyond competence and excellence into that dangerous territory that few seem to travel, what then happens in the great cosmic void, in the place of origin where the genetics of our future are frozen and waiting? What does it mean for the Universe when a Human reaches their full potential, and what does it mean for that which caused it all to come into being? Now there’s a contemplation.