In the book "So long, and thanks for all the fish", there was a woman who had lost her sense, and all that she said was, "This." I read the book a long time ago, and I don't remember very well, but it seems to me that she was in an eternal present moment, and whatever "this" that she was perceiving was her entire reality. We're advised to "live in the present", and "be here now", which is good advice, but it has to be backed up by some sort of larger perspective, or else we would be like the woman in the story, or like a baby, experiencing nothing but a "buzzing, blooming confusion", as one writer put it.

My theory on it is "this": Accept people and things as they are. That's just words, and to me, they sound ugly and harsh, so how do I put it in practice? The big stumbling block is needing or wanting (a distinction without a difference?) something that is not possible. The person can't be that way for me, the situation is not amenable to... whatever. How do I get from "that" - the thing outside myself which is not - to "this": loving it the way it is? How can I offer, as Krishnamurti put it, "Love without the image"?

I don't know. You can stop reading now, because I don't have the answer for you, and if I did, which sometimes I do, I couldn't put it into words anyway. But I can hint at it, so if you want to walk a mile with me, then we can go in that direction. If you're a Christian, you need to go two miles.

This is: Have the perspective that any given experience is just one in an infinite series of them, so if this one thing doesn't happen today, it certainly can at some point. This is the perspective of patience, the product of an orderly, logical mind, which I do not have. Instead, the logic that I am capable of builds a giant wall and explains, brick by brick, how it is impossible and can never happen and I am doomed. This kind of thought we can live without. How to uproot it? How can I get this logic worm, this mind parasite out of my consciousness? I am told that we can't actually solve problems, we simply move on to something larger and more interesting (Jung). This accords well with my experience of schooling, where I never really understood anything at the time, never mastered any of my studies, except for ones that I already knew before they were assigned, and so all I did was get dragged along by the curriculum, promoted into new and bigger mysteries, which I finally graduated from at the end of college, still not understanding really how to add numbers beyond ten. What do those symbols mean? Why are they different in essence from musical notes, or the colors of my pastel drawings? "Life is not a problem to be solved." Somehow, get that message. Throw away the wall-building tools, stop trying to build a safe haven, because butterflies don't live in caves.

This is not about being safe. The only safe is dead and buried in a box in the ground. Forget it. Pick up your camera and go outside. Kiss someone without expecting anything from them. Give of yourself, or create something, and then the problem goes away, because life is coming forth from you like a river emptying into the sea, instead of a puddle slowly drying up. Accept "this" wife as she is, and let go of the person I keep dreaming about. Take "this" job and be of love to the people that I serve. Enjoy "this" life, however much I see disappointment everywhere that I look. Forgive "those" people their failings, and forget "these" of mine. It is a dance, and no one ever gets it perfect. Just Dance.

See? I told you I couldn't put it in to words. If you write it, it will come. Go do something. Forget about me. Turn off the computer.

Take a little piece of paper, write "This" on it, and put it in your pocket. Then when they come to cut off your head, like the Sufi master, you'll have all the protection that you need.


These photos were taken one very muggy morning: as soon as I walked outside, the lens fogged over.

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