Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Identity as attention

"Now, you are an identity. Pretend that you hold a flashlight. The flashlight is your own consciousness. Now. You can turn this flashlight in an infinite number of directions. These directions are always available to you. But instead, you get the habit of directing your flashlight in one particular direction. You hold it in this direction constantly and you have forgotten, you see, that there are any other directions.

All you have to do is swing the flashlight in other directions. You must momentarily, for now, shift the focus of the flashlight. And when you shift it, the direction in which you are used to looking will momentarily appear dark, but other images and realities will become available to you. There is nothing to prevent you from swinging the flashlight back. And when you learn what you are doing, when you learn what you are doing— "


Anita Moorjani, Dying to be Me:

"Although I try to share my near-death experience, there are no words that can come close to describing its depth and the amount of knowledge that came flooding through. So the best way to express it is through the use of metaphors and analogies. Hopefully, they capture a part of the essence of what I’m trying to convey at least in some small way.

Imagine, if you will, a huge, dark warehouse. You live there with only one flashlight to see by. Everything you know about what’s contained within this enormous space is what you’ve seen by the beam of one small flashlight. Whenever you want to look for something, you may or may not find it, but that doesn’t mean the thing doesn’t exist. It’s there, but you just haven’t shone your light on it. And even when you do, the object you see may be difficult to make out. You may get a fairly clear idea of it, but often you’re left wondering. You can only see what your light is focused on, and only identify that which you already know.

That is what physical life is like. We’re only aware of what we focus our senses on at any given time, and we can only understand what is already familiar.

Next, imagine that one day, someone flicks on a switch. There for the first time, in a sudden burst of brilliance and sound and color, you can see the entire warehouse, and it’s nothing like anything you’d ever imagined. Lights are blinking, flashing, glowing, and shooting sparks of red, yellow, blue, and green. You see colors you don’t recognize, ones you’ve never seen before. Music floods the room with fantastic, kaleidoscopic, surround-sound melodies you’ve never heard before.

Neon signs pulse and boogie in rainbow strobes of cherry, lemon, vermillion, grape, lavender, and gold. Electric toys run on tracks up, down, and around shelves stacked with indescribable colored boxes, packages, papers, pencils, paints, inks, cans of food, packages of multihued candies, bottles of effervescent sodas, chocolates of every possible variety, champagne, and wines from every corner of the world. Skyrockets suddenly explode in starbursts, setting off sparkling flowers, cascades of cold fire, whistling embers, and animations of light.

The vastness, complexity, depth, and breadth of everything going on around you is almost overwhelming. You can’t see all the way to the end of the space, and you know there’s more to it than what you can take in from this torrent that’s tantalizing your senses and emotions. But you do get a strong feeling that you’re actually part of something alive, infinite, and altogether fantastic, that you are part of a large and unfolding tapestry that goes beyond sight and sound.

You understand that what you used to think was your reality was, in fact, hardly a speck within the vast wonder that surrounds you. You can see how all the various parts are interrelated, how they all play off each other, how everything fits. You notice just how many different things there are in the warehouse that you’d never seen, never even dreamed of existing in such splendor and glory of color, sound, and texture—but here they are, along with everything you already knew. And even the objects you were aware of have an entirely new context so that they, too, seem completely new and strangely superreal.

Even when the switch goes back off, nothing can take away your understanding and clarity, the wonder and beauty, or the fabulous aliveness of the experience. Nothing can ever cancel your knowledge of all that exists in the warehouse. You’re now far more aware of what’s there, how to access it, and what’s possible than you ever were with your little flashlight. And you’re left with a sense of awe over everything you experienced in those blindingly lucid moments. Life has taken on a different meaning, and your new experiences moving forward are created from this awareness."

In Which I Offer an Unedited Stream of Consciousness Without Apology

I wish I'd taken at least one poetry workshop (did I ever? I don't think I did) at some point.

I know I'm no poet, but I think it would have shown me something about pacing and phrasing and keeping a musical rhythm.

Poetry is a finer art than prose; a novel can tell you a story, but a poem makes you feel what it's about.

I think about all the experimental short stories I put forward for workshops because they were nothing I really cared about.  I never really risked myself, did I?  I feel a bit fraudulent.  That's not much of an artist, is it, to disallow vulnerability, to only put forth the events that I'd already processed and healed?  There's no rawness or growth from such a practice.

Maybe I don't really know myself after all (and how could I?); I only know what is past, not at at this moment, and certainly not where I am going.  I don't ask "who am I?" because that assumes I am a "who," when "what am I" --no, "what is 'I'?" is the question I am really pondering.

I don't consider myself a writer anymore, because I don't know what it means.  I'm not an artist because I'm not expressing anything real.  I'm hiding.  I'm always hiding, or running to some new town, or coming back to an old one to rest.

What is real is that I'm empty, and cluttering up the space with ideas about reality that I can never confirm, identities I as a human can never truly know.  I select aspects of a persona to present because they are the most pleasing, all the while I am an empty eye staring out from behind a rotating handful of filters to shape my perspective.  I'm not a person.  No one is a person.  That's just another filter, another shape to take.

People will insist that I am loved, but to be loved, don't you have to be known?  How can emptiness be known?  How can an eternal, infinite, undifferentiated void be known or loved or understood to be different from anything else?  You don't love me; you cannot.  You love your perception of me, and I love my perception of you.  "I" is a mystery, perhaps the only unsolvable one, and it is the same for all of us.

Is it a shape we take, is it a story we tell ourselves? Is it the pages and canvas upon which we are scrawled?  So many times we look at what comes next, as if we are drawing a line through time, when perhaps we are painting a portrait, revisiting our definitions and contrasts through the use of negative space.  We may not know what we are, but we usually know what we are not.

People who try to control you try to tell you what you are.  They're just telling you what lenses they use.  I have no interest in control.  I have an interest in love, and I love you so much I will always let go of my idea of you, to allow you to be whatever you choose, for you are not your portrait.  You are the canvas, the artist, the paints, and absolutely nothing in particular.

I will love you by believing that you are free, completely and entirely.  You do not need me or my ideas or my stories.  I will not tell you a story about time, beginnings or endings, because I don't know if any of that is real.

I don't know what I am, or what you are, but I cannot be convinced that the you beneath the you you think you are is temporary.  What can exist without the whole of itself?  What could exist without you or I, because I am certain they are the same, although I can never convince anyone of anything at all.  I wouldn't want to, though, because that is an attempt at control, and control is the opposite of true love.

All we ever really do is use our ideas to fill the empty space of self and tomorrow.  The more we let go, the clearer the void becomes, until even the questions go silent.

I lied in the title; I do apologize.  Thank you.