“In order to begin the journey, first it is necessary to arrive”
I wrote the poem ‘Journey’, just as my heart was beginning to open in 2013.
The lifelong search for meaning was both beginning and ending.
I have been knocking at an open door. I have been straining to hear echoes from my voice. I have woken up to drag my feet through the unexplained, inexplicable days with my eyes closed.
What is the one common factor in the last three sentences which acts like a short leash on a pet dog, preventing it from racing off into a new discovery?
When an animal like a dog or a bird spots an object of interest, it will go to it. It takes no time out for risk assessment. It consults no preflight checklist, it undertakes no critical path analysis of its intention, and it generally measures its actions against its peer group behaviour not at all.
When “I”, Peter the Pilley, lean into “I” the animal, I have no use for the old and much-thumbed ‘Wiki of What-Ifs’. I can leave it to sit on the shelf in the library of my mind.
The naked flame has no label. The naked flame hurts. That’s all there is to it from my perspective.
Picture a tree in a woodland setting. Here is the label neatly printed, affixed to the trunk. It confirms beyond all doubt this entity’s identity, because it is written: TREE.
Turn away and look elsewhere. Millions of labels are attached to millions of objects, most with subtext and supplementary information.
The naked flame needs its label. Either I acquire it by burning myself, or it is given to me by admonition.
The World of Labels is acquired from our human beginnings. It is a useful and often necessary complement to my navigation. It can disappear entirely under the influence of a hallucinogen. It will reappear later to be where I am, only to hang around one step in front of me – a persistent and ingratiating self-appointed guide – ready with its irrefutables… “this is this” and “that is that”.
Desperation, frustration and plain old misery can arise if the world of labels is accepted unquestioned. Labels can cage the heart and trap the soul. I am talking about barriers like “What if” and “I can’t” and again “not now, some other time”.
It is in the years since the Year of my Life, 2013, that I have seen through the heaviness of damp woollen shrouds, all richly hung with labels. Gradually, as I see mirrored everywhere the living-beingness of things, I have experienced over and over the thrill of recognition.
I stop. I see here the waving antennæ of a single lacewing at rest. What is it? What is it sensing? What does it search for, sifting the sightless drifts of air for what signal? I ask Lacewing.
I stop at a stone on the footpath. It is different, maybe in shape or colour. I ask Stone where did you acquire your shape? What processes and over how long originated your stoniness?
There is a type of excitement aroused by pausing to enquire In this simple way, where no parent, schoolteacher, or employer, has shown, instructed or directed before.
There is an urgency in the attraction of this feeling. It is related to, but not exclusive of, the search for a meaning.
I wanted to repeat the thrill of seeing both myself and the lacewing’s mind disappear under the cross-examination of reading the Mirror of Thisness.
Gradually, I made my choice. To ask, to see if I can see the unseen in everything I walk past. The more I stop to examine the macrocosm in the microcosm of my immediate surroundings, the more I began to melt away as “I” observer.
The intensity of what is mirrored to me from the life-energies which surround me everywhere, of which in fact I am composed, is perfectly able (if I allow it) to blow me away.
Blown away like the seeds on a dandelion. Like the mist over a morning pond. Like drinking the most intoxicating liqueur ever brewed by the ancients of days, millenia past!
I went for a walk in Royden’s Wood, near Brockenhurst one spring not long ago. The months of build-up of house moving stresses demanded release in some forest bathing.
I started going on methodical, mostly solo, backpack rambles in 1978. I must have covered many thousands of miles, almost all in the south of England.
This woodland walk felt like it was my very first. The woods and the green scenery were not specially different. I was. The intensity of pleasure at finding myself at last alone among so many mature trees, on a windless Spring day was so surprising that my identity as a social creature had shrunk away. I had become little more than a sensitive receiver and I was filled up with awe and joy.
As I walked, very slowly indeed, “I” experienced the magic of Not Being Here in all its wonder and beauty.
It can take time, this discipline of enquiry into Thisness. There are many who need little, even no, preparation, and who “get it”. For me, it has been decades of stumbling, falling, being rescued, loving, ferociously hating, self-sabotage, sleep-walking instead of opening the eyes of my eyes.
My heart is an opening heart. It is no different to your heart. No different to the heart of a stone on the footpath!
Only connect! In an inevitable plurality of beings, I allow myself to melt into Beingness. As often as possible, melt away the walls of the mind. Let the sighing relief of simply being alive fully take over from the exacting exigencies of imposed imperatives.
The entirety of the potential of the universe is yours, mine, and it only asks to be asked for!
~ Love is present E v e r yN o w