The cingulate gyrus connects the limbic system to the cerebral cortex; a little like our animal selves speaking to our super egos. Still mysterious to us. The pictures we store, the flashes of insight and technicolor faces…how do we determine which shine the loudest? Of all that thrusts itself into our line of sight, which invites us around the block and onto a strange porch? A porch that may one day become familiar: lucky short term memories become long-term movies. What’s inside that house? For now, just a dream. We are intellectual animals and all that lies in between. The tiny, almond-shaped amygdala can bring back a whole summer with the smell of candles melting on a birthday cake under honeysuckle. When the bees flinging themselves at white and yellow petals buzz into that summer’s best song, you are lost in time. And who are you if you don’t know what time it is?
“Wormholes,” coughed a surfer this morning, as we stared out at the waves, too choppy to ride. “I don’t know,” he wheezed. He’s the only surfer I know who smokes Marlboros instead of weed. “If the past is a memory and the future is fear and hope, they meet here. Now. Which is then…nothing.”
“Which is then everything,” corrected the yoga instructor to my left. She is a yoga instructor, after all. Very into Being In The Moment. We’d just been lamenting the co-opting of our disciplines by shallow douchebags. Her point being that yoga was once a spiritual practice that has been shopped for and bought by people more about tight latex leggings and tight latex buns than compassion or mindfulness, though they love, love, love to use the words compassion and mindfulness. “They co-opted those, too,” she sighed. “Now they’re worse than meaningless.” I told her that music is in a similar place, but if you know me at all, you’ve already heard me rant about this, so I won’t say any more than: shallow douchebags.
“Small world, big picture,” murmured the surfer. Not much left to say after someone says it all.
So what about the memory movies that are overlaid? This beach, dizzy with a thousand home movies, all three of us watching sand stretch the concept of a brain sitting inside a skull. No story is about you. Your own stories are a colorwash, an honor of participants, flying in the face of personhood. Get invisible. There is no self, only an observing will. Must be why we bristle at the idea of a consumer culture. We know it doesn’t suit us, doesn’t work, an ill-fitting latex garment, squeezing the breath out of us. Yoga was breath and now it’s shoppers. Music was breath and now it’s fashion. Nah…not gonna fit. Times will change, depth will return in the boredom and frantic of groping for the next big thing. The shallow douchebags will wander off and leave us to get work done in peace.
If we have to measure ourselves, we measure what energy we have to give. The idea of measuring what we get doesn’t suit, doesn’t work, doesn’t fit, can’t breathe. We don’t disappear when we give up our selves, we finally happen.
When you watch the summer’s best song bees bang against their honeysuckle, you aren’t in your story, the melting wax is. And the buzz. The crazy sugar water between those petals is in the bees’ dream. But the sound of a loved voice is in yours, calling for your attention. And when you turn a corner onto a new block and climb the steps to that strange porch, well, you are the watcher that wilts or lifts according to the timbre of that voice.
Is there pain? Can I help?
Are we laughing now?
When the sand plays my home movies over the waves, I’m the projector. I only appear to help someone else colorwash their sand: a walk-on and then a walk-off in someone else’s dream, while peering around another corner in mine. Yesterday, I stepped onto that strange porch, pushed open its screen door, finally inside that house, now no longer a dream but an afternoon. Long-term movies grope backward and forward through time, clean of hope and fear.
What time is it? I have no idea.