behind the veil of self-importance lies a world beyond thought, a place with nowhere further to go and everywhere to explore. sometimes still, sometimes violent, always true to its necessities. a place where want is replaced with belonging


there’s a tension between the materialistic desire for things to be fixed/known and the knowledge/experience that everything is in a state of entropy. most of us aren’t brought up to be comfortable with being degrading bags of flesh. we’re caught in this seemingly paradoxical conversation between flexing our materialistic/socially constructed significance and defecting to the reality that we will all return one day to the soil. can’t help but think a conversation that speaks to the ‘isms’ might be one about how we grieve - both the loss of something had and lack of something not yet gained. ideology has yet to enable space enough for expression and reconciliation of grief. communists: displacement (the hurt is too great, we can not associate with our experience); capitalists: deflection/projective identification (the hurt is too great, let’s associate with things that protect us from our experience) - interesting how these ideologies push away from contactful conversation, but in different ways. one through making less of the self-experience, the other through making more. funny thing about perceptual frames is exactly that - how one looks informs what one looks at. if we're trained to look through a certain view, the world seems to make sense that way - as if any alternative view were impossible. what's quite nice/meta about trading - everyone follows their edge and with significant levels they all line up - promotion of trading to end humanity's suffering? alas, for every trade there is a counterparty - so to say trading ends humanity's suffering is to assume we can correctly price and distribute everyone's value proposition in such a way that makes lack and loss obsolete inter-personally and inter-temporally, in perpetuity OR we can get over our significance and accept laughs and bruises along the way


the divergence between shape, symbol and identification, however small, results in magnitudes of scale differences across time - an answer is never the answer - a question never fully formed. a line that is straight is a deviation from the line that is not


holding onto grief is an attachment to death, an unwillingness to move - like stapling autumn leaves to branches, scorning nature. holding onto grief is lack of expression - it eats away until the once soft inside is hollow, caved out, craving fullness - mind hears this as ‘get out of me parasite’ - caving out of the soul continues until there is nothing but a shell. bids to extract the pain instead carve out ever more important parts of self until what is left bears little semblance of a life worth living


woke up this morning and lay in bed irritable. my back and neck hurt and i couldn’t get comfortable. i’ve felt like this for several weeks, maybe even months now. bad sleep and painful back/neck. i check my phone and scroll mindlessly. a post pops up on lament. i click and am taken to a video on loss of lament - how, in our modern dystopia, we are becoming ever disconnected from ability to connect with loss - increasingly feeding from a mirror image through virtual platforms and social media - enforcing a brittle ego-ideal in each interaction as justification for worth. i recognise this in my own experience - something i’ve known and turned away from in an ‘in-out’ battle over 12 years - open to being touched and closing off from deeper contact. allowing myself to feel, exposed to joy and suffering - closing off to numb myself from overstimulation. typing in ‘lament’ on youtube i find a video on gaelic lament. griogal cridhe c.1757, fhir a chinn duibh c.1650, cummha mhic criomain c.1746. a final song ‘tha mi sgith’ - tha mi sgith ’s mi leam fhim - i’m tired and i’m on my own. warm tears roll down my cheek and i’m reminded though i may be tired i am not alone. a memory of grief stirs and i’m transported back to chicago on the afternoon of 12th september 2016. my heart is broken and i am in a place i do not know awaiting return to london. walking down a road coming to what i later learn is the 4th presbyterian church, i walk inside and up these empty, expansive stairs. i open a door and find this room - beautifully spacious - a celtic pattern on the floor, glass chandelier in one corner overlooking the city - a piano just beneath. stepping through the maze on the floor, i make my way over to the piano. i open the case and place my fingers on the keys. fingers exploring each key - a conversation of what i am allowed to be, to feel in this moment - i am no pianist and i am in someone else’s space. finding a combination that make sense - these are notes of my lament. i play with the pedal - touching the keys softly, firmly - expressing where i am in a language i’ve not spoken. vibrations of these notes fills and empties the room for the next 40mins. a guard walks in and asks what i’m doing. i do not know ‘i love this room’ i reply and continue - suspended in the play between the vibrations of each note and the resonance of those before it - a rich blend in which i feel a deep belonging. he keeps at the door for longer than a few moments then leaves. i remember this time fondly. a desire to reconnect with these notes fills my body as i lie here. i get up and i go over to the piano - searching for the notes. i thought i’d written them down on a piece of paper back in chicago and i wanted to find it. i find the folded piece under the books by the piano - amused by the carelessness i’d treated this now significant gateway to a meaningful part of my life - grateful i’d kept it. b,c#,e,b - the notes sound uplifting and i am surprised. i play them some more, moving up and down the keys. there - in the space between the keys i find that sensation - that joyous humiliating release. my body relaxes and i allow myself to be touched - letting go of significance. 


pain and joy exist in each other - time dispenses accordingly


a human is an experiential tube


walking up listening - 2 songs, differences, walking with them - taking steps - redemption in each step - tears building held in, belief connected - denial of connection - comfort of mental isolation hurts less than connection - tingles in body, feeling Earth, quick walk over pavement - why do this? What about feeling Earth here now - choice in every step, up to tree, walk around tree as pilgrimage, circle until join in chorus - to hear my voice a stutter afraid to take up space take time to allow voice to be heard and so connect - caution in having voice heard caution in feeling connection - somatic memory of birth? Rejection at school? Being male as a rejected state - a residual of nature. allowing myself to sing - to vibrate, at first a whisper, barely moving myself to feel. to full on singing my heart out, face contorts and mellows - to allow myself to vibrate and feel - i allow myself to feel. i allow myself


i walk along the pavement on my way to the gallery. purposefully stepping with destination in mind. the ground a wet grey and the sky an opening of blue - a contradiction that intrigues. a shot of cold wetness up my leg - my right foot is soaked. fucker! I burst into a smile and thank the day for this moment


if not now, when?


i’m fearful of making immoral choices. a step out of line. a step that houses a thousand consequences

my home feels wide open, exposed and undefined. things come and accrue in pockets of neglect - small things, important things. it takes me time to figure out what they are and how they take up space. some things take up too much, others not enough. some things i'd have been better not to leave in the shadows. but here they are. here i am with them. part of my fabric - both of us transforming. it’s not the physicality of these things, the symbols, which suffocate, but the space which is taken up. the space i refuse to challenge in myself. they take up space within my home, and yet i do not know their name


how can i talk if i do not know the space of my own home? i can’t tread honestly with knowledge of things inside myself left unexplored. what use is language when what it symbolises is a perceptual frame? a frame that is undefined

asking questions i've no right to ask

what is the conversation I fear? having an open house, with all doors open? where things can come and go as they like? some come in and i greet them. but they stay too long, and others cause pain. or rather, they take up space. i feel like i need a guard at the door, though i’ve tried (and failed) this route with intellect. cognitive deflections only increase my sense of self importance, myopic control and delusions of simplicity. intellect only silences screams for a moment. and it's not true silence. being silenced is like closing a valve on a squealing pressure chamber. the noise stops for a bit, but volatility is likely to expand more violently down the line. i'm tired of silencing myself


controlling, intense, fearful

i’m fearful of missing the conversation that needs to happen. fear is one lens. on the one side, i’m defensive, aggressive, protective. i’m fascinated, obsessed with unconscious desires and seek to keep them at bay (engaging super-ego). fear defines the border facing the external world (not in physicality, but psychically). care defines the border facing the internal world (that which has been accepted of self, initially, too, by self)

i’m fearful that, in not knowing all that constitutes self, i won’t be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with myself, and so will remain detached from a life of real connection with all there is to experience; deep connection with others, stories and self. i feel a simultaneous sadness and raw drive to see and be seen


i want to lead a life of spaciousness. to hold myself with the care and intention i do others. i’m learning to trust in space, in the potency of expansive simplicity beneath the surface of my thoughts. glimmers here and there. i’m learning to notice times where i feel spaciousness inside. breathing into the raw, whipping sea spray of the cornish coast, swimming in the sea early in the morning, engaged in honest, confrontational, at-the-edge conversation with self/another


in this way, exploring the boundaries of my own ‘house’, aware and accepting of pockets of space within is my frontier; my conversation 


baby in the quiet carriage


context: several people working quietly in quiet carriage - me reading book titled ‘pathological altruism’. all carriages have plenty of space. two people take seat behind me and begin talking. within 10 seconds, person opposite me turns and informs them it’s a quiet zone. they are quiet for rest of journey. 30 mins in, a person with baby enters quiet carriage. the baby makes shrieking noises. the parent plays with baby. the carriage grows tense. no words are spoken to parent. below are reflections on the remaining 2hrs 40mins of my time on this journey 


why, as a social contract in context of ‘quiet carriage’, is baby allowed to make noise when friends conversing are not? why is the piercing shriek of a baby more allowable than the soft murmur of unaware adults? in labelling the carriage ‘quiet’, the variable under question is decibels - not number of people, not smelliness of food, not wealth - decibels. If carriage is to respect the social contract of ‘quiet’, surely it makes sense for constituents of carriage to hone in on the greatest outlier(s) of social contract? 


but what is the social contract? respect designated area unless capacity/extreme circumstances dictate otherwise? uphold the needs of child rearing parent above those of ‘average person’? what about of ‘average people’? at what point is the need of parent outweighed by that of group and vice versa? does context matter? what part does culture play? where does burden of responsibility lie? mind begins to clutter and persists


strictly speaking it is not baby, but parent of baby who breaches social contract in context of ‘quiet zone’. with plenty of space in other carriages, i label parent first as ignorant and then as obnoxious. i remain in this state of judgemental paralysis for 25mins or so - wanting to get up, not getting up and building in anxiety. what is this anxiety? guilt? i feel anxious around the appropriateness of response to their imposition on quiet. quiet is important to me - disruption gives rise to righteousness in me and i don’t want to go overboard. i feel guilty for not speaking up about my needs. i feel guilty for not standing up for what i perceive as a collective desire for quiet. i feel guilty about hiding behind my desire to protect them from my desire for them to be quiet. i feel guilty for wanting them to be other than they are. i feel more and more anxious the more conflicting thoughts i try to solve in a reductive way. mind continues to clutter, becoming increasingly rigid and inflexible 


conflicting thoughts intensify and i become further attached to ‘my right for silence in the quiet zone’. does it bother me? why does it bother me? self absorbed parent. self absorbed me. a desire for quiet turns to a binary want for silence. i remain seated. anger simmering. ’silence that fucking thing’ i think. i look over at person across walkway. they wince with each shriek and shake their head - face darkening with anger. seeing their anger manifest physically is the mirror i need to catch myself. my face softens and i laugh internally - had by my self-importance. sitting in stillness for the next hour as righteous anger leaves my body with each breath. clutter dissolving


judgemental thoughts reduced - mind clearer. baby still shrieking. can it be as simple as ‘this is a quiet zone - you are not quiet - please be quiet or leave’. yes, it could be, but i get a feeling that’s not ‘it’. i’m still attaching to a want for things to be other than they are


i’m reminded of the contextual labelling of space as ‘quiet zone’ - and my subsequent attachment to ‘quiet’ in this context. my attention turns inward. what is this ‘quiet zone’? mind begins to mull. to attach to label of ’quiet zone’ is to seek validation of an internal need (my need for quiet) from an external source (a zone outside of self). buddhism teaches this only leads to further suffering - it’s also my experience. there is no such thing as ‘quiet zone’ other than with oneself. falling victim to desire for control of external is therefore an admittance in denial of one’s own chaos. surely that’s where to focus one’s attention


breathing in, i find stillness in my abdomen. breathing out, tension released. this practice takes me through to my destination


reflecting on journey: there is a soft unspoken way of relating in this world that requires self-ownership, mutual cooperation and respect to function - some people get this, others less so. one thing i revisited today: we don’t desire/despise what we’ve accepted in ourselves


the quality of water 


when wind blows over lake, or ocean, the water’s surface descends into a boiling mass of disturbance. ripples, waves, commotion. and in this moment, disruption appears to be the intrinsic quality of water


yet soon the storm passes, and with it ripples fade, waves reducing in magnitude. soon the tempestuous writhing mass returns to a sheet of crystal, reflecting the sky, trees and surrounding environment. soon, chaos turns to clarity


the sea and lake are like this in perpetuity. calm, violent. still, momentous. yet their intrinsic quality remains the same throughout - the depths of both remain unchanged come wind, rain, sun or storm


mind is like this 


when untrained, all small things seem relevant as they skitter across the surface, and if we give them attention, so our mind will mirror their chaos. when we pay attention to deeper more subtle sensations, we see more clearly - connecting with a place of inner stillness