… but when I pulled on one of those threads, I unravelled the tapestry of my life.
— Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek TNG, “Tapestry”
I just got back from a camping trip with Jude, Paul, Travis, and Cami. Jude left the house again, and Namaste, who had been home all weekend, just stared at me. This is a usual occurrence; he does it just to fuck with me, to make me self-conscious. We got to talking about his philosophy of immediacy and nonpermanence, the best way to describe it being “if I die right now, will I die happy?” (to be clear, the philosophy is not about thinking about whether you’re going to die all the time, it’s just a quick way to describe it).
In some of the fidgety silence within the conversation, he said “you want to do something right now, but you’re not doing it”. I immediately just lay my head back and relaxed. That is what I wanted to do, but, as I said to him later, it doesn’t feel like doing anything (but it is). This got me into a meditative state of mind that he first introduced to me. The way I describe it is, say you’re on a walk (or doing something—anything really). Turn off your conscious mind: if you feel a pull to the left, go left; if you feel like stopping and sitting in the bushes, stop and sit in the bushes. Whenever you hear yourself censoring your own behavior for whatever reason—I shouldn’t go to Wendy’s because they don’t have very good food there—just shut it up. Don’t listen to it. Don’t necessary do the opposite (actually in Namaste’s version he would do the opposite), just don’t listen to it and do what you feel anyway.
We continued talking in bursts with long silences in between. Namaste said “I don’t feel like talking to you anymore” (this was not offensive in the least in the context of the philosophy), and I said “I feel like going to Snarfs”. So I got up and glanced at my computer, about to compulsively check my email, then caught myself and continued on to snarfs without looking at my mail.
But I couldn’t avoid the fact that I was already in this somewhat meditative state of mind, so I ended up going on a pattern break walk.
I’ll just describe the walk, interspersing the realizations I had as they came up.
Less than a minute after I started walking, I, for whatever reason (there are no reasons on such a walk), thought about Karlin. I closed my eyes and visualized some of the mundane wonderful experiences we have. I pictured her sitting at her computer as I first arrive at her house and touch her shoulders. I pictured us cuddling on the couch after her parents have gone to bed watching some entertaining B-movie. And immediately a huge smile came across my face.
At this point, I started walking left toward Snarfs, and my thought process went something like: “Maybe I should go right. No maybe I should go left because I usually go right here. No maybe I should go right because that was the first thing that came to my mind.” Finding myself in this loop, I just sat down on the grass right where I was.
At this point I noticed the immense smile on my face and the great feeling I had. There is an NLP technique for perception where you establish a strong rapport with someone and right after you do just notice how you feel. Name it, but don’t give it a name like “anger” or “frustration”, just give it a unique name that doesn’t have meaning for you. That way you don’t distort it with your own previous conceptions about what that word means. So I did that: I called the smile and the feeling “flunderclap”. It was essentially the kind of permanent smile that comes up when a date is going really well. I would call it “love”, but that has way too many other meanings. So it was just “flunderclap”.
I suddenly felt like walking again. I got up and started walking.
It was during this next walk that I really started “voomphing” in a sense. I remembered Namaste’s recent article where he talked about the sort of experience I was having now. This was a touching article and had a big effect on me. I then realized that the main reason it had an effect on me is because I had an emotional investment in Jenn (who is moving away, um, tomorrow :-( ). But it was unexpectedly enlightening rather than jealousifying. I understood that the reason I was doing this walk right now was because of that post.
And then the image of the hikes I did with Jenn enter my mind, together with the idea that she’s moving away. The thought crosses my mind that that was Jenn’s whole purpose in my life, to get me emotionally invested, so Namaste’s article would have an impact on me, so I would do this walk, right now. I’m not saying anything like “everything has a purpose”, or its opposite, I’m just noticing that strong sensation of the events and people in my life meshing together. In particular, I felt Jenn just vanish from my thoughts, a complete release of what I had invested in her.
I’m closer to SubWay now (I was still looking for a place to eat, you know) than Snarfs, and I feel like lying down again. But I’m on a sidewalk next to some bushes. What do I do? That’s right, lie down in the bushes. I had some fun playing with my brain, trying to completely decorrelate all my senses: my hand feeling one of the thorny branches, my eyes looking off into the sky, my ears hearing the cars going by on a nearby street, my nose smelling the green air around the bushes. I just lay there staring off into space for at least five minutes, people walking by (I found myself wondering if someone would stop to see if I was okay) and all.
I immediately felt an urge to start walking back the way I came. At this point my hands started moving as if I were playing the piano, and an elaborate tune started flowing through my body and out my mouth. Usually I’d just let it go for a little while and then stop because I got caught up in something else. But now that there was nothing else to get caught up in, I just kept going, hearing it more and more vividly, my fingers playing along with it.
And during this the largest ephiphany came to me. With working at NetDevil, worrying about doing well in school, feeling bad that Karlin forgot my birthday, getting emotionally caught up in Jenn, even playing in my wonderful improv band, worrying about having enough sleep to function the next day, worrying about my health, I had lost who I was. I was entangled with the usual stresses and pressures of life, living tomorrow by tomorrow rather than today by today. I had forgotton that I am a passionate composer, and that Karlin is an incredibly important and bright part of my life (meanwhile the flunderclap comes back). All the while I kept singing and playing my tune.
I have stopped composing because I know that composing a song is at the very least a six hour investment for me, and I usually get inspired at about 10 at night, and I don’t want to be tired for work the next day, so I shut it down. I have associated the word Karlin with my feelings of hurt and abandonment that I recently felt, and forgotten who she was as a person and as my friend.
I continued the rest of the walk with my open mind and going where I felt. It led me to a fancy Indian restaurant, “The Royal Peacock”, where I comfortably ate alone (I generally have a huge anxiety about eating in a nice restaurant alone). I closed my eyes and moved my hand across the menu, opened my eyes and read the name of the dish under my finger. That was what I was going to have. It happened to be a spicy dish with plenty cilantro, my most hated seasoning, but I ate it anyway and it was pretty good actually. Instead of focusing on how much I hate cilantro, I just appreciated the flavors of the meal, finished after an hour, and walked home.
All along my way home I felt the tapestry of my life reravelling, bonding with itself, defining who I am as a person. I saw everything coming together, from the mention of cilantro earlier and my experience just then, to my reminding Namaste of his meditation, causing him to remind me of his meditation. I feel wonderful right now, as if I know exactly what I’m doing with no relation to any sort of logical plan.
And I did remember to anchor flunderclap when it came up. :-)