We had to get out, poor Camilla needed a lift and hearing that the sun was out by the sea, after months of a low grey sky, we sped away. I wanted her to enjoy the day to the full, we must step from ourselves and let others breathe. We rose from our mist coated valley and drove over the bright and beautiful hills and, oddly, my mind took me to ’Satya’s Truths’, my Indian novel. Towards the end:
Devi exhaled, “Satya, you’re starting to see others as they are, rather than as projections of your own complexes.”
“Ouch.” And still she isn’t revealing how she feels.
I’m sure we are each guilty of taking others as we imagine them to be. I looked at my lovely wife, could I see her afresh? She looked tired, emotionally drawn. How sweet she’s been all my sofa-bound months, utterly selfish and my mind woke to an old self buried beneath my complex persona. In the book, Devi is always one step ahead of Satya.
“We shift between one guise and another, rarely settling into who we are. That is humanity’s folly.”
Can we be who we essentially are? And what the heck does that mean? Oh, come on, I once felt it profoundly in my being, not intellectually, I knew. This happened yonks ago when I did mindful meditation with four powerful figures for more than six months (after yogic meditation elsewhere for two intense years). One of those incredibly bright and outstanding figures coined the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in his world famous book of that title. My own lesser book explores these sorts of concepts, partly using relationship as a vehicle.
As this sofa-bound body suffered, as this brain computed the very edge of life, as, when a bit of energy returned, this mind dodged boredom by creating abstract artworks, I saw that the mind’s existence is an elaborate theatrical dance. A fabulous ballet with which I had come to associate, assuming its pirouettes and flashing moves were me. Hmm, this sounds esoteric, the sceptic inside complained as the sea came in to view, your thoughts are you. Yes, but you are more and research shows how little time we in the 'developed' world* spend in our brain-bodies, we are mostly living in our thoughts and that’s where stress builds up.
I'm dubious about 'developed' - are we more developed than, for example, African tribesmen? I grew up alongside a remarkable Kenyan tribe who trained my body to be powerful, who showed my Western mind how to retrace its steps and linger in the body-brain. As they leaned on their spears, looking out for leopard, hyena or anything which might attack their cattle, they were in the moment. I know, for I asked where their attention lay.
A stillness arose from within, an uncomplicated, clear awareness. His skin tingling with the sun’s warmth, he smelt the hot earth, listened to bustling sounds rising from the voluptuous town.
By now Camilla had parked and ten minutes downhill, we sat upon a bench in a park sloping steeply to the old fishing harbour; stretching to infinity, a sea you could skate upon under a sky clear and calm. A gentle breeze stroked my cheeks as clean, slightly salty sea air helped my lungs revive a body exhausted.
I felt at ease, still suffering but detached from complaining. Temporarily leaving the entertaining mind, residing in the brain, we sensed life as it happened and we become enlivened. How often do we linger there? OK, the view enhanced the sensation, but if I could feel my vitality there, I could do so anywhere, I had even done so upon my sofa.
What, I mused, are the most important things for me? Health, they always put at number one, but I know that when your health is rotten you can reach beyond continual pain and malady and be content. Not easy, but doable. So, for me it’s being in the moment and relishing the relationships we have. I looked at my life partner and welled up. Eight years ago my character Satya had the same experience (on paper, I must add, in case you believe he exists - I had to when writing about his adventures).
He studied her. Relationships are more important than ideals. They delve into the world of emotion, which offers up its riches when empathy controls activated thinking. Ideals, so frequently based on suspect logic, or even false notions, often mislead, whereas empathy reaches out to the real world, encouraging us in to sharing life.
“Drifting off again?” Devi tapped the point of his nose.
Devi, the tease, constantly counters his seriousness. Camilla the tease and me often the all too serious, but content together upon that bench, perhaps as happy as we are back home, but elevated from having treated ourselves to that superb location. Life really is what we make it.