A friend, at least so I would consider him a friend and I often question whether people I think of that way would also think the same of me-anyway this friend I made in graduate school wrote these essays that made my heart sink into an ecstatic sort of wonder that felt like everything I ever attempted to articulate was made clear. The words, printed on regular white printer paper, set all of the self-doubt and questioning free in an experience of birds flying out from a cage. This cage’s door which was ajar but for some reason had seemed closed due to the angle of a mirror positioning the birds view of an angle of the cage so that they could only see the tarnished black vessel of their containment as closed, their reflection something which would cause bleeding beaks and at a certain time of day, total sun blindness. To read words that came from another persons’ mind as if they were your own. Relating. To be seen. These things which I never kept inside of me on purpose but as long as they were there ate me from inside. Consumed any desires to make efforts at living. These writings which set my heart free.
Some people I have met hug strangers but never speak to their families; people that say to love the world and hate their reflection; people that say all kinds of nice things and yet their smiles feel as brittle as old huracha sandals outside the porch for quick garden watering. The same sandals that put little twigs of twine into the soft underside of arches, yet are kept out of convenience. These kind of people, are the kinds of people I have found to believe in fate or destiny. They confused me for awhile, but I realize I don’t have to understand. I often heard these people talk often about light and love being the answer and the power of witness. And there was something interesting to me in that. The power of seeing another, without judgement, for whatever they are working with. And so I digested their words about witnessing when I encountered this writing of my friend. Take the good and leave the rest-a suiting and comforting cliche here. I became witnessed by written words of someone who’s life I know next to nothing about And even in all his writing candor, I believe what he has written. Not that he has made it all up. And even if he had-it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if it’s made up.
And then I started to draw a line from this made-upness to real life. Coming from a way of thinking that everything in this entire human experience is made up. Literally. As if we as human bodies, with all of our guts and mess of minds are literally making up this story about living on a planet in a dark universe. And we believe it. So as long as we believe something, then it can be real.
But later on, I learned about a lot of things that I believed but ended up not being real. This sort of way of seeing myself having gone through a sort of half-twisted mirror system of horrific unreality. This sort of way of seeing a single-reflex mirror. This way of seeing through another lens, a machined lens. A sight convoluted. And I was mad and scared. The camera device I realise was born out of ideas which created all kinds of atrocious human experiences. A device used for justice, morals, and sorts of ideas about how life can or should be. And I began to question the camera quite heavily. I began to question my involvement with it. I then started to feel as if everything this object could do, represented, or was born out of, had some kind of influence over me. A drug or an addition. Yes, but it’s just a camera many said-chiding along that I was thinking too much about this thing anyway. But the camera, this thing that is now many things in the hands of many bodies, constructing many images which are digested, typically on screens, shiny and tantalising-I wondered if others could be as concerned with the aura of photography. This sort of half-drunk use and encounter. And the whole idea of it all, perhaps a seed that starts to spread in the garden-a weed choking out the food until all that’s left to eat are weeds.
And so I began to think a lot about weeds and plants. What constitutes food versus nourishment. What satisfies a hunger or fills a belly. These things being very different of course. For a belly that’s not hungry will always fill full. A belly that’s full may still feel hungry. There are foods which are but weeds in our bodies-some of them useful, some of them utterly toxic. And how, in a realm not of the mind but right here on this earth can any body know the difference.
Some people use logic and rationale to lead their lives. They are ruled by a process of critical examination. Some people use their guts and instincts. They are ruled by a process of survival. Some people use all kinds of processes without realizing it, and this people are ruled by desires. Maybe it is all standard human development. But there was an idea this friend posed in a writing recently that has really got myself noticing. This idea of the shadow of the body being different in different parts of the planet.
Of course the sun hits the surface of the planet in different ways. But had I ever considered how this would impact my own shadow, and that this shadow which comes from my body would change my interpretation or experience of life and my own life. No. I have always been working on some kind of theory about an interpretation of the ways human bodies, the earth, and how these things perhaps create each other. Not in the single-reflex lens sort of way, but more in a sort of ten or twelve constellation dynamic. This dynamic a suspension of light energy, negotiating different rules constituted by a nervous system-which has a thing attached to the top. I won’t use the word because if you have one you will know the five letter word. The most important topic of any kind of debate on cause and effect-the epicentre that’s right on the thing but then totally off. So I come back to the nervous system now, as part of this form that creates a shadow, that appears differently during seasons and different parts of the world. A subtle dark cast…could it be that in the north the density of my body would be lesser. That my life has less impact when the shadow cast is not ever dark. That in this place, I have a sort of lightness and levity that I had never before experienced. And that the empty or lacking feeling I experience, the sort of full belly that’s never hungry but eats to stay full alone, came from the way the light reflects off of the surface of this earth. And if my desire is to make some kind of impact on this planet, they wouldn’t I be residing in a place where my shadow would be quite dark? Would I go out at noon and press into the pavement the after image of my presence. A dark hole just under or beside me at all times. But in this place of the north, I have tended to go out at night when I have no shadow at all. In the other places of the earth, I have also tended to take to the outdoors during times when my shadow would scarcely be seen. Was it traumatic for my body to live in a place where my shadow was quite strong. The experience of my life having a dark spot on this earth. That this dark spot I would mythologically translate as being an evil thing…for I learned too early to remember that dark things are bad things-stains that must be washed out. And this mythology, connected to the convoluted sight of a single-reflex lens.
Lights went off, firing rapidly in my nervous system upon receiving these words signs from my friend-mentioning to notice the difference in my shadow. That perhaps my entire life, I had internationalise this sort of consulted mythology of light and dark and had it running a program in my brain. A program which drove me to desire to be light. To not leave a big mark on this earth. To not stain the light that falls upon plants and waters and pavements with my own presence. And to seek out the dark, where I could safely hide my shadow among the mothering light of the moon. Where my shadow, I could pretend blended right in with the other shifting forms of the dark. This desire to be light, doted upon such people which love the world but not themselves, that smile when they have nary a thing to feel happy for, and a dark so deep which has never been accessed.
All of these experiences coinciding with an email newsletter about the dark parts being the power. That whichever which is held most concealed, is the power we have to create in life. And by calling a witness to such dark parts does not obliterate such powers with light. The power cannot be vanquished by witnessing. Thank god, for those people that terrify me so much with their love and light and lightness of being, will not make their mark on this world. And the light which I do so love in the north which has severed my experience of my stomach and my darkness, would make things so utterly complicated and dense. A way of trusting in whatever I am making up with this complex sensory system, may find its way to a place where my shadow has an impact. Where the dreams are obliterated by a reality so thick with joy and beauty the nightmares and psychic ghosts of mythological creation are obliterated by the very shadow which I had sought reprieve from. To embrace my shadow, not as a dark entity I must be shameful and guilty of, but that it is my power to impart my presence on this reality-I have no idea may be made up completely.
What a lengthy confluence of events, in the matter of a few years, to make such connections and demystifications-which enable me to set myself free from the single-reflex trap I had spooked myself in with mythologies and mantras. And now, no matter what constellation I find myself on the map of the globe, I can appreciate my own shadow and notice its varying shades of dark and the shape it imparts upon the landscape. Could it really take over 30 years to accept the fact I exist and all of my life experiences exist within me. Guess so. But that’s one less thing to spend effort in resisting.