Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Thursday, May 07, 2009


No poem this time to give me the excuse of calling my essay "notes." I just want to describe a recent experience.

I was sitting in a library near a window, reading. In the corner of my eye, I caught something shiny (metal?) in the grass outside. I stared at it. The gleam came and went, seemed less metalic. I kept looking, finally saw it, just a small square of whitish paper, leaning on grassblades, wobbling in the faint breeze, which shifted it so that, from time to time, it caught and reflected a sun beam.

I did all this looking without thinking, but intently. I didn't really have the thought "I'm looking to see what's shining in the grass" until I was mildly surprised to find it was just a bit of paper, but by that time I'd drifted into a state of deep relaxation. It seems that in order to perceive at that distance that what I was seeing was a scrap of paper, I'd had to "let go" and give my perceptions full sway, and having achieved that state (where, without focus on the shiny spot, I could see what it was), I just sat there and continued to let what was in front of me fill my eyes.

What did I see? A few birds (starlings, I think, four of them) rise from the grass to a tree. Various bugs flitting. Grass blades shifting. A car driving out of the lot, a person moving down a path....

And it was fascinating. I felt no urge to move or look away or to do anything else ever again. That is, I felt I could sit there looking at the motions and comings and goings of the scene in front of me (not Grand Canyon or the Pacific, just lawn, some trees, some parking-lot asphalt) -- sit there forever and continue to find it interesting. Every motion created space, right there in front of me. Things could move in or away or to one side or any combo of these. Everything was moving. And for some reason or no reason, it was INTERESTING!

Space and time and things were interesting. Isn't that interesting! And I knew (and know still) that there was no limit to this interest. After all, it's MY interest. I create it.

I did not decide to continue to sit in that chair and stare at the scene forever, or until at closing time, someone had me carted away to a mental hospital. But the knowledge that I'd have been happy with no more than my little theater of space, time and motions, that I needed nothing more for myself (I don't speak of the body's needs) left me free, incredibly free.

After all, the usual view of entrapment is the Eastern notion that we are caught up in the wheel of events/time/illusion by desire, a flame that enfolds and consumes us. I don't know that I escaped desire. I have no desire to be without desire. But I learned that I could dispense with it. I learned that I could find all the joy I wanted in myself.

Of course, I was taking great pleasure in the bare bones of the physical universe, all the little happenings among blades of grass. But these props were so minimal that I could easily sense myself as the source of my pleasure and interest. I was palpably extending over the scene my own admiration, like a second and subtler sun light.

So I became free from desire, free to have or not have it, for desire is easy to let go of when you know how much you can create, how little you need.

(But it's still hard to resist a two-for-the-price-of-one sale on Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Me ye have yet for a little while! Or, speaking as a tricky poet, for a little wile.)

1 comment:

Mike Gomes said...

Ah, I found you again Dean. Good, I'll follow your blogs then.