Seeing Myself Seeing

This morning I have been thinking about what I want out of life. Not in terms of a stockpile of accomplishments or acquisitions. But which moments do I want to squeeze from the days? What does a good day look like?

I haven’t really been taking photos since the end of summer. And it feels like I have lost that particular practice of meditation. The noticing. The meta-awareness of my own limited perspective through the lens.

This morning there is a cluster of snowbells sheltering under the dormant hedge in the front yard. A promise.

I took a picture.

I’m not sure why. I could have come back to the little library and written about it – as I am doing. But why that, then, too? What’s up with this need to see myself seeing? To document my perspective?

With all that I’m learning about this stage of life, sometimes second-hand, it seems like an obligation to notice the world while I’m still in it. It goes back to that perennial question: what am I doing here? Maybe all I owe the world is my gratitude to a cluster of snowbells on a morning after a storm.

And once again, I hold to my belief that we have the concept of metaphors entirely backward. Our experience is always the vehicle, and nature itself is the tenor. Our art is always in service to nature.

Insert a Venn diagram where we are a small circle in the larger circle of the natural world.

Maybe it is a pantheist idea to think our purpose is to be in service to the world? And maybe it’s self-serving to think that if I can be in harmony, it will contribute to a more harmonious world? To think that my perspective could serve to open other people’s perspectives?

But what if I’m an unwittingly altruist ant in a crowded nest, thinking I am working for myself? In which case, my (self-)perceived egoism is nothing to worry about.

When I think about perfect days, I think about all the things E. and I filled our days with when we were falling in love. Drinking hot chocolate in the dunes after dark. Finding silly things-we’ve-never done to do together: surfing, landscape-drawing courses, trekking the Hardanger plateau. The excuse about everyday obligations taking over doesn’t cover it. There were everyday obligations on those days as well. It may have felt like time out-of-time, but it wasn’t. And what if our idea of cause & effect here is all wrong? What if the feelings didn’t spark the experiences, but the experiences (the willingness to experience) sparked the feelings?

Once again, nothing new here. A cliché idea from any self-development course or marriage-counseling session. But once again, experience cannot be learned by rote.

So I keep writing it down.

And I will give myself permission to continue with this memoir project. Out of my comfort zone and crossing genres. So much to learn. So many ways to fail. So, like crossing the plateau: one careful step in front of another. Staying in the moment, which does mean to focus from one, specific perspective.

One at a time.

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  1. I think we are often afraid of making life about anything other than everyday obligations. So they become our excuses and our burdens and the lids of our coffins. If we consider changing our habits, we become the other to ourselves, and are afraid of changing. And I must admit the exhaustion that comes from everyday obligations becomes more energy-sapping the older I get.

  2. After my stroke, there is a new way of seeing or is it the stroke opened up to the real. By pondering slower, am I seeing differently? By having to work at it, am I more aware of the
    what is?

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