Most of the time it seems, I take myself to be physically separate from everything else, with an accumulation of experiences or memories that serve not only as a rudder in the flow of new experience, but also shapes that new experience, a rudder that determines the direction of the present – something from the back that controls the front. These experiences developed into patterns that I’ve learned in early childhood and repeated over and over gradually becoming tendencies, my defenses and preferences, in short, my habitual behavior, and a major way of self-identification…
The types of behavior I engage in most often are made of Time, and orchestrated by a self that narrows the perspective on the moment of doing these things, by imposing the ‘past-present-future’ structure. But there have been moments when that structure has loosened, and the tension holding past and future relaxes, and the present opens to varying degrees.
In some of those moments, the feeling was of a semi-fixed self-position in a flow of forms, when I was aware of the input from all the senses, and I noticed my self-position, like the bow of a boat in an oncoming stream of form. And I also noticed that I could not maintain its fixed position in this flow. It kept ‘timing out,’ the self-position kept trying to take a new fix on the flow, to try to hold it as a new moment, and in doing that my new perspective was narrowed.
Holding on to a moment involved a narrowing interest in some aspect of what was appearing… some narrowed particular of a fuller appearance. Perhaps I could say the present feelings and experience become a memory and those past feelings and experience were often used on the next open moment, and thus, the self brought its fixing tendency into each open moment as the past, to introduce a narrowing of perspective often through the mechanisms of comparison. Once I saw I was trying to fix a position in the stream it seemed to let go. Direction seemed to dissipate, time and space opened, and there was space and form in a more open presentation of bursting forms, like a kaleidoscopic display in a living, viscous, sensing medium. But it is difficult to describe without using language that gives a fixing impression, even though little seemed fixed…
I was brought face to face with ‘impermanence’… my own and every instant and thing…
My friend Ken is intimately familiar with this realization, and its inevitability… see what he says in the following…
By Ken McKeon
There is a light that wavers,
It is filled with dust,
And with the final noise
That the old make
Before they die,
I don’t have a trumpet to play
Over the dying,
I am dying myself,
My face is chalky with death,
My eyes are nearly useless,
If a stranger walked up to me
And asked what was going on,
I would not know what to say.
I could point to all the aged,
But he might not comprehend,
As if I did, and I do not, not really.
They keep on piling up,
Like leaves beneath the trees in fall,
Piles of all these frail dry fallen leaves,
The trees will soon be stripped of them.
I think of them being leafless, bare.
It is a still thought, a solitary note.
Others might try to show up for a while,
And then they won’t.
And that will be that.