I want to preface this by giving a bit of information about myself and current situation. I work for an art studio and, during the pandemic, I’ve managed to stay employed working in my Brooklyn apartment. It’s somewhat run-down, but inexpensive by NY standards and I live alone. As much as I can find things to complain about there are things too for which I am grateful. One being that these months away from the atmosphere at the studio has been restorative to the point of feeling medicinal. On one hand I feel a bit privileged to be working at an art studio in NY where I make enough money to continue saving, but also find that my world is sort of restricted to these soulless aspects and that crushes me. I read something recently which described how one can feel more alone among others than when by oneself for being out from under the constant reminder that one doesn’t seem to fit in. Add to that a micromanager who goes out of his way to remind those under him of what he sees as their shortcomings and it starts to feel like an oppressive environment, in the way that unremitting summertime heat can leave one exhausted. I recognize that there are folks in this world who struggle to acquire the very basics needed for themselves and for loved ones and that there are those dealing with hardship much more pressing than I, and that on some level what I’m describing pales besides that. But I also feel that the commonality there is the desire to overcome hardship, large or small, so as to make the most of life. Be it some shitty mental magic, a matter of perspective that has me feeling this way, or the possibility that the energy at my place of work is truly bad; both are real in a physical and metaphysical sense.
A few days back I bought a new bag. I can’t identify for you the strain, just that they were mushrooms. I had the feeling that I wanted to really go for it. Wanting to really go for it and then backing down is also typical of me. I find I deal with self acceptance versus a feeling that I’m not where I am in life, not doing what I most connect with, while falling back into routines of staying at a job I detest and practicing yoga and such in order to not fall into self destructive habits while maintaining my course. Rather than go big I decided to test the waters at 1.5g: a de-stemmed cap and an intact fruit body down the hatch and chased with some grape juice. I pulled on a sweatshirt, set my N95 face mask in place, and went for a walk as a sort of post-work palette please before they kicked in. Celebration residual from Puerto Rico Day audibly mixed with anticipation for The Fourth punctuating the night with staccato pops from fireworks and laughter as I strode down the sidewalk. The concrete bore resemblance to a sort of soft cream and gray camouflage of layered leafy shadows cast by the streetlights hanging above the trees which lined the streets. Quietly lit exteriors, with an occasional raspy hum of an AC, began to beg for notice with greater insistence. The lace-like brick-work vignetting the black windows of dwellings caged in writhing, ornamental iron bars took on greater presence. I felt the magic beginning to stir. I walked a few more blocks up to Gates Ave, made a right at a cheap jewelers baring a sign advertising, “we do gold teeth,” before looping back for home. A police siren sounded somewhere bouncing off of the buildings. Two men stood outside the corner deli under the awning the thin light. It was 11 o’clock and it had ben a full half-hour since ingestion. I went up the steps and put the key into my door: I was back again. I took a quick shower thinking of holy ablutions and the dewy cleansing of the roji garden to which guests submitted before entering the tea hut for the ceremony. I dried off, threw on some shorts, entered my bedroom, put on my Sennheisers and sat in the darkness; butt and back to the wall on my bed, and I waited. I selected something like Kirtan, some Hindu devotional pieces offered to a goddess of compassion.
Often I liken the onset of these things to listening to a piece of minimal music, wherein listening straight through you find it challenging to point out when and where any changes or progressions occurred, but finding that if you stop the piece to skip around from beginning to end you can’t help but wonder how it so seamlessly moves given the contrast at different points. Also I want to say, despite having read little on the subject and wishing I partook of these things more to test my own personal theories of cultivating naivety in approaching something like navigation of these realms, I’m not sure what to do with my mind. As with meditation I sometimes forcibly come back to my awareness of my body and breath, but notice how the magic responds when my mental content shifts to certain material. I’m convinced I’m not supposed to just sit and watch but actively call things to mind (perhaps on some level there’s no difference), but I don’t know. I tried to set an intention, I begged that I be brought up, that the awareness and parts of my ego by which I construct resolve and make decisions with confidence and strength, be brought to the fore; that I see my weaknesses and fears as they are, so as to stop nurturing them. The thing began to churn. My mind felt energized and I breathed deeply and regularly inviting attention and encouraging submission, while with closed eyes I felt an oscillating between content of heart, mind, and closed-eyed visual field. Thoughts of a long time friend with whom I’ve been having trouble communicating came up. Do we really no longer relate enough to be friends? Why is this happening? My heart swelled and I felt small for my attachment to him, wondering were these not but memories that ought be let go of, trying to recall that the world is bigger, but lamenting that he couldn’t be there along side me as we swam in admiration for the power and majesty of it all together. I felt full of love and compassion. And then it would stop, “am I seeking these feelings out of want of comfort? Do I not also need my ass kicked? Is not some self-pity masquerading as love needing to be exorcised?” I felt as though there was some sort of presumption to what I was feeling and that the magic itself was calling me a coward, it urged me to get up and go to the freezer and to knock back a few more of the wrinkly, dry things and to throw control to the wind. How serious was I about finding and sharpening my edge? How serious could I be if I wasn’t about to push to find my limit? Is this how strength and courage are built or might I risk irreparable damage? I was scared that this question implied the answer. I thought of work, pictured my boss, imagined the U-haul van that I, of late, imagined renting to leave NY, to leave my job. The visuals intensified with eyes a predominant motif. Feminine eyes; full, round, deep, incisive; with long, glistening lashes gazing penetratingly into me. What does a man do? Continue baring his burden or pack up and leave? There is no way out but only a way through, I’ve heard it said, but which way is through? Are there not many ways? Surely one is better than another? I felt like I was deferring to concepts and ideas out of fear to act, appeasing myself with silly explanations carrying me away from the immediacy of action. The visuals subsided as I rode these cerebral trains. The magic seemed to respond most to those emotions which sprang forth from south of my neck and less to things noetic. I thought of work again and saw it not as work, the activities in which I could lose myself; but as fear, the raw sensation and how I hated it, how it seemed to poison me. The Visuals peaked again; overtop an ink wash ground a delicate, and electrified latticework described an architecture which cascaded into existence racing, small at first, from a single and definite point in the background, forming a swell and a valley of the lay of a landscape where a moment before had been blackness; and then up it shot; tall slender structures detailed in electric lemon, a webbing of some roller coaster scaffold, minaretes, bell towers, soaring spires, and then rolling down again to the level of huts and smaller structures. A hollow formed; like the pattern on an owl’s feathers or the inner composition of a dreamcatcher; gray lines overlapped forming arcing grids where stern faces of noble elders gazed from the spaces between…this expanded to fill the frame of my visual field, although my eyes had not opened. Soft fleshy pinks, citron yellows, and softened Prussian blues feathered the edges of this thing as it turned to show me its integrity as it moved, how it held up and maintained completeness and uniformity even as it moved. Again I had the feeling that I was falling short and that I needed more. But what I wanted, and this too began to feel familiar, was to rid myself of whatever bilious filth weighed me, had accreted, perhaps, in my joints, my hips, at some bend in the pipes preventing movement which this thing encouraged like the some perfect, and graceful dancer. There was chanting in my ears, female voices, layered whispering with the meeting of lips audible for organic wetness. I felt warmth and wholeness, pleasant thoughts of people who had been there for me, a friend who’d moved back to China and how, even though far away, through texting we brought pleasantries to one another’s days. I noticed how the feeling was there, even after I turned off my phone. Where does it go, this feeling, to come out now? It swelled and grew to fill me. I laughed, smiling, feeling my love for her and again, lamenting the feeling that we were not together now, and how things like that, connection, touch, seemed to promise to have the power to transform fear and to empower. Maybe being adrift isn’t so bad, as it permits of the possibility for this sort of connection yet to come. I suppose I knew that, and that that’s why I seek confidence, courage, and empathy…so as not to be so affected by things that I can’t fully live. I sat for about three hours, trying my best to be present, to entertain feelings of gratitude and submission to it, and that whenever I found myself feeling weak or self pitying for cowardice I tried to recognize that that feeling itself was negative egoism and that gratitude for the ride and for whatever was shown was not only the antidote but where I needed to train myself to be at all times. I thought of Zen texts that said the goal you seek is the practice itself; be one with it. I don’t want to push away my lamentations and self pity entirely though, since, as I stated in the beginning of this, they seem to be real, and suggestive of something significant. I’m still processing this. I feel like ingesting and sitting with these things is like weight lifting which is why I find myself feeling that these things are magic, the efficacy of which only increases the more one practices using them. With that, I’ll likely have another post soon.
Edited by Myc, 19 June 2020 - 04:32 PM.