Tuesday, 24 July 2007

No Ripple

I have grown to like being still.

I have taken to sitting in silence, especially in the daytime when Owen is away. Sometimes I play a record on softly in the background, usually an old favourite: Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen. Often even that is overwhelming. I dislike too much noise. I sit, with my thoughts on mute; sitting, breathing, just being.

I can do that for a long time, sometimes hours. I can’t explain why, or how but I find such beauty, such depth in silence. I feel a stripping away of the layers, a crumbling of the barriers until all you’re left with is a pure and calm stillness. Sometimes, my body rebels. It gets bored and restless, it longs for the shiny, for the new. I persevere. Still I sit, still I breathe, in and out, in and out. The boredom, too, eventually melts away.

I focus on the breath. I count to ten like I’ve been taught. One to ten and back again. Just me and the breath. Everything else disappears. I count to ten. I breathe in and out. Until the thoughts are still and all is quiet within.

Sometimes, when I am feeling this calm, I take out pad and pen and let myself write. This is a true joy. I write spontaneously. I have never done this before. I don’t know where the words come from, but I don’t think them first like I usually do. I do not edit, I do not delete. They sometimes make sense, they sometimes don’t. I don’t care what happens to them. They are not my words, they do not belong to me. They are pure: free from ego and competition and paralysis. I like writing this way, although it feels more like channeling than writing. When I read
the words back though, I can tell they came from somewhere inside me. I am no medium, except of my own subconscious. It is so different when you let the words form on the page without worrying about them. You learn that they usually take care of themselves. It’s like a mother finally having the courage to let go of her child’s hand as they cross the road. It’s all in the act of letting go that things become pleasurable, really pleasurable and that you become free. The stress disappears, the knots unravel. The words on the page do not belong to me, nothing belongs to me, hell, there is no me! It’s just all good. Really good. And it makes me smile.

But that’s the writing. I do that because I can’t not write. I’ve never been able to live a life where I don’t write. But the day is long and mostly I just sit. I sit on my stool or I sit on the sofa. I sit on the park bench, I sit by the river. The water flows like time passing. You never put your foot in the same stream twice.

Home again: I stare at the white wall. I see so much peace and beauty there. I walk into the garden. I smell a flower. For a moment, that flower is the universe. I watch the bees and wasps fly around the garden. I wish them well. I breathe, I breathe, I breathe. I go inside. I brew a cup of tea in my old china cup. It is white with a golden rim, and a chip in the top. I pour the water slowly, watch the leaves diffuse. I blow. I sip. I swallow. The tea becomes part of me. Water becomes blood. Hydrogen and Oxygen along with everything else. I wash the cup, the soapy bubbles pop on my arm. I rinse. I dry. I place the cup back in the cupboard. I am aware of every movement in my hands, the feel of the rough tea towel against my moist knuckles. I walk back to the sofa. I sit. I stare at the white wall. I see such beauty there.

Later: I smile. It is colder now. I pull my blanket round me. I don’t know the time. I don’t want to know the time. He is not here, but will be back. Until then, I sit. I make Nick sing some more. I don’t listen to the words, just the melody, the sound of his instruments; his guitar and his voice. That’s how it’s always been with Nick and I. The sun sets, I watch it on the horizon through my window. I do not ignore the building site opposite. I try to see the beauty in the cranes and the scaffolding. It is not difficult, although it was at seven o’ clock this morning. I yawn and stretch my arms into the space above me. I sit, I light a candle. I stare into the flame, I don’t know how long for. Soon, I don’t hear noises, not even Nick. I stare at the candle, I stare at the flame and its many different colours. My eyes softly, gently close.

There is a smell of smoke. I open my eyes. The candle has blown out. Its plumage spirals towards the overhead light. I lick my fingers and pinch the wick. It fizzles but does not burn.

I stand, fully awake. Nick has long stopped, the disk ejected. Outside there is darkness. I shut the curtains, turn on the light. The stillness remains within me, unshakable. My stomach rumbles. I walk into the kitchen, open the cupboards, ponder quietly what to create for us today. Whilst I am thinking, I hear the front door slam. He is home. I smile: another day over and not a ripple in the pond. What joy I have known today, what more could I want for? The door opens, he is wet with drizzle and his nose is red. He kisses me, throws his arms around me, says; ‘It’s good to see you, it’s great to be home.’ Here, you see, I have everything I need. Here, you see, I want for nothing. After all, this is my home. Not this town, not this house, not this man, not even this body. Home is the stillness, the rich beautiful stillness that lies here: deep down inside me.


Window said...


ZenJen said...

Awww, shucks.

Ta Jen


goosefat101 said...

This is a great blog.

I haven't had much time to read your blogs recently, butI have missed them.

I reckon the thing you are talking about in terms of writing is how I tend to write. I am blessed and cursed by having no real editor until the thing is done. I just access that strange part of the mind and set off. But I don't do it as purely as you describe, not really, because I have my plots and characters and whatnots, but sometimes, the best times, I even forget those fragile maps and find the writing is writing me and not me writing it.

That last blog was a beautiful piece of writing. Really powerful and real. It made me wish for that meditative space of letting the writing write me.

As you know I am not one for sitting still in quietness, it isn't really in my nature and silence and stillness always scare me, but falling into the stream of consciousness is the closest I get to that wonderful idea of losing your ego and awareness and becoming something freer for a while.

Thats why I miss not having time to work on novels at the moment. And thats why I can't fit that sort of writing in to snatched moments. It's a process, like meditation, you have to have the time to lose the time, and at the moment thats something I don't have.

I guess its what Clive's musician friend calls "boredom time" he says boredom is needed before creativity can hit you. Boredom is I think the wrong word. I reckon he means having a moment where you unthinkingly fall into a meditation, where you switch your mind off by accident and find something new has sneaked in while you were on standby.

Anyway thats enough rambling over tangents. Lovely blog. Thanks for writing it.



ZenJen said...

Thanks dave, your comment really made my day.

Writing has been a joy recently. I feel like I am starting to find the elusive 'voice'- I still have a long way to go but I am feeling a lot more confident when I write. This blog is really helping actually. Just writing a 1000 word piece once a week is far more of a commitment than I was managing before, meagre as that is. I am enjoying it so so much. Thanks for reading, and commenting, and being so generally supportive. I am enjoying the act of writing more than I have done in ages: it's part buddhism part blogspot, but it's a winning formula and I'm not going to knock it.

Have fun in Edinburgh.

I am going to order the circus in iraq book you recommended on your blog, it sounds great!