by Liam Scheff
This was begun as a letter I wrote to a friend, a “just in case.”
If things go badly for me, you can let people know it was the constant physical pain that did it; not a particular view of the world, not being negative about oil or cultural collapse, or politics or science or any other thing. If I weren’t being wracked by pain, brain shit, and the ungodly invasive ear shit, I’d be planning to travel, to get more into backwoods camping and building cabins, shelters, woodland gardens, etc… it’s on my mind. But this fucking goddamned disease, whatever it is, is stealing so much from me. I don’t know how much longer I can resist the desire to leave pain behind.
I’ve had so much time to think about this world, life and death; for someone who’s been critical of people and institutions, I find over and over again all that tasks me about the world, all of our misspent energy, all of our thoughtless, rudderless decisions and indecisions, adding up to calamity.
There is always plenty to hate in it, of course, and we humans do that well. Humor, satire, pith, criticism…it’s a joy to hate the bad things, and a pleasure to love the beauty. To hate some of it and love a lot of it. And that mood passes, and I find, over and over again, all that I love in the world.
I love the poetry of it; endlessly, siempre, forever. I’ve noticed in myself the constant love of moments; the moon in all phases, relief in the arms of a loved one, the promise of lights in the distance; the blessed sounds of nighttime, moving across the landscape on bike or on foot; the passage of things, the endless metamorphosis of thought and shape and form; the feeling of simply ‘being.’ I’ve realized how much I enjoy the pure act of living. I perhaps haven’t noticed that enough, and indulged it enough, or simply acknowledged that my way of being, my internal poetry, was, in fact, ‘okay,’ and an acceptable way to be.
My mind is tasked, or was, on being productive in some way, useful, or working at some project or bit of learning or job. But it seems to me there was plenty I’ve not done – that I would wish to do, that would return me to working more with products of the natural world in constructing what people need to live. I had that in me once, but the information age captured my attention – like so many – and now I wonder what it, in total, was worth.
I should have stuck with carving wood and being a good artisan. Or, I should not have abandoned it. But that’s this century’s curse to its young. We were trained to value what was temporary, mechanical, shiny and unreal.
I’ve often focused on politics, or the negative politics of science, or religion – and given myself a task to uproot it, to find the deeper truths. That’s not always happy work, though it’s most often or always fascinating. I suppose I have so much Vulcan in me (that’s Spock, not Hephaestus, though maybe some of that, too) – that is, the mind that simply finds every unraveling of a mystery to be ‘fascinating.’ I joke with myself sometimes internally when doing these deep readings of the world… ‘Fascinating, Captain,’ my mind will say, to make me laugh at my own process.
But I’ve been able to realize, particularly in these last weeks and months, something I’ve always known. It’s why I would disappear on forever bike rides or walks. I’m always enraptured by the poetry of life; by the moments, large and small, that play out on the horizon, on the turning of the earth, in the curving of a street into the distance, of the color of the air as it meets sunlight; by passing faces, glances, whole worlds inside of people’s minds and souls that are always floating by…the sunlit romance of the world, always, always, always. The depths that can only be seen in the darkness. The paths that only show in moonlight.
I’ve always loved so much about being alive; but I’ve always been troubled and irritated by life, too. I suppose that’s this world: yin and yang. The beauty and the ugly… the stupid and obvious and needlessly thoughtless; and the sublime, the generous small beautiful tender moments in every sphere of our world..
I’ve had a lot of time to think about death too, as I seem often to be pointing there.
When I close my eyes for the hours of my worst pain and most hopeless moments, and I let myself feel death, feel the reality that is part of every single person’s life on earth…. when I don’t shrug or shirk or push it away…When I allow its embrace to guide me and talk to me…well… there are so many thoughts. I feel the sadness of leaving friends behind. Of leaving years unlived. Of leaving my beloved few behind to suffer the pain of losing me, as I lost my own beloved person six years ago, to a pain I didn’t think was possible to survive.
There is that; all the sorrow, all the pain, all the tears and crying and inveighing against a brutal, unkind, unfair, unreasonable universe that doesn’t seem to care at all for our notions of honor or fairness or justice, or even good. There is that, and a dozen dozen conversations about how the mind paints all the turns and episodes of life and asks us to judge ourselves as worthy or unworthy of somebody’s notion of value.
And that lingers, for a moment. Then it fades, and the tasks and duties and gossip and politics and ridiculous medieval machinery of this world recedes as though it were never there, never more than an idea, a whisper of a notion of no importance at all.
But remains the question: what then? What is on the other side of the veil?
I’ve laid up against it for months now, asking, wondering. There is a quiet darkness that answers only itself – dark and silent. A sea that we cannot penetrate from this side. No monsters except those from our psyche; no angels except those from our heart. Just unknown, silent and deep. Not busy, not bothered, not active; just silent and without worry for anything at all.
When in these states, when I’m sensing all I can, I don’t see anybody’s version of ‘heaven’ or ‘hell,’ these tales for children, or the child’s mind in all of us, to get us to conform to some set of rules or another. I’ve come to sense that all we know is delineated by a boundary. A dome in our internal sky that is the uppermost limit of our perception. Everyone’s internal world lives under this dome of perception. But we don’t see the dome; what we see is a movie screen.
All day, all year, all life long, we project our movies onto it, and we feel, think, know and presume these movies are real. We find people to argue with about which of our movies are true and real, and which are untrue and just “somebody else’s religion.”
But there is that dome, and I think it is quite real in all of us. Beyond it, I can’t tell you what I see….except…sleep.
Peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. I have no idea what is in the place that is the infinite source for all that is; for our finite musings and meddling on this manifested, mosquito and typhoid-ridden rock. This beautiful, big, blue (and white and yellow and red and every color) marble. I think we can’t know from here, much as we try, imagine or dream we can. I think some things are simply a mystery. Until you pass the boundary.
In truth, I hope and dream of a field of summer where loved ones can muse with each other in whatever way spirit communicates…I hope and dream for that warm place which I know we can’t describe from here, but which makes us whole again. I like that thought.
Anyway… Just writing to say: these are the thoughts. Among the sadness that I can’t seem to figure out how to get better. That there are things that broke in my cerebellum that I’m unable to coax back into the shape they once were.
The unfairness of it all. And it is bloody fucking unfair. And I know it, which only makes me cry.
It is unfair. I know it. I didn’t do anything to deserve being this sick. I went to the dentist and she performed too much too long too extended too deep too painful surgeries on my teeth with my neck too extended and too horizontal and something just… broke.
So…. in case anyone asks. That’s just some of it.
You know what you realize when you’re in some danger of leaving the planet….is what you’ll miss the most – is experiencing it. The simple and comforting narration our minds read for all of us, as we travel through life. We, our ‘atman’ perhaps, are our own best friends. We’re with ourselves longer than anyone, after all…and we see ourselves – this concept called ‘self’ – in the thousand moods and ten thousand moments that create our lives.
Such a mystery. I hope still to heal, but I’ll admit that I’m having doubts. But one can have hope that leaving pain behind is also healing.
(P.S. I won’t be answering comments. Your well wishes are appreciated. If you want, you can paypal some money so I can afford the 6,000 dollars I have to sink into a hearing thing that might help what’s going on in my brain/head. Oh – I had a cerebellar stroke during dentistry. That’s what happened. So, fuck you, dentists worldwide.
Now it’s a world of noise and pharma drugs to knock me out which depress me to desire death and then struggling through the day to find enough to counter that. Fucking hell.)