Problems with the Profound and Just Sitting Around

or stuff about ideas

across the alleyIt’s been awhile.  And so where are we in this?  Where am I?  It’s seemed to me for some time that this take a year and figure out something new about myself and the world around me kind of project has become one of the most cliche’d devices around these days.  This notion of doing something different for a set period of time and then, what? composing details about how your other life, the one that you left for a year and are now going back to has been altered in some way; or, if you’re lucky, elevated and composed of something greater, deeper, more profound and lasting.  That’s all fine and good, but I wonder if this is a little absurd and indicative of some greater, more malignant, social malady?

But this is what we all hope for, right..some sense of the profound?  Or am I wrong in this?  Is it that, when it comes down to it, we want nothing of the sort. Rather, we’d prefer to play at profundity..or play around with it, as if it’s a fun little item that you can roll around, toss back and forth, maybe even chew on a bit and then place back up on the shelf.  OR..a sense of the profound is a notion that we run from.  Maybe not screaming, but maybe it’s something we back away from slowly, ever so slowly, so as not to catch its attention and raise its ire.

Profound – deep, bottomless, vast.  To bring forth the bottom of things.  The immensity and vastness of what…nothingness? oh geez..and there you go.  We but barely plumb the depths of our consciousness, we but barely descend below the threshold of what is constant and soundly constructed.

Okay, so.

The point of all this is…what?  I haven’t been posting on the ole blog lately because it’s just become tedious.  I don’t have stories so much at this point; but instead, I have sentiments.

The woods have become a place that I go to.  Meaning, the woods have become a place where I say, “okay, I’m going to go there now,” at which point I get in my car and go.  Going there has almost become routine.  In fact, it has become routine, almost something I feel like I’m supposed to do, and I don’t think this is a good thing.

We are at a place, been here awhile I reckon, where we can have and develop ideas about the wilderness, or nature, as a place you go, or a thing you experience.  This idea of wildness, which is something we no longer experience so much of, pervades much of the conservation and back to nature movement.  Whatever that means.  So, we human people alone can have ideas about nature.  We can have ideas about ideas. Our ideas inform other ideas and are self referential in a sense that they both exist solely within our minds.  Nature, apparently, exists outside…down the road aways, and it’s something we can think about and unpack and yearn for and idealize in such a way that isn’t artificial in any way, but which is likewise a product of our own consciousness; or better – our own imagination.

I have been attempting to practice mindfulness and awareness building in my own backyard.  Bottom line, I/you/we cannot expect to ‘reconnect’ with nature by just visiting our local forest preserve or going camping once or twice a year.  Yes, this is a great way to spend time, and it should be encouraged and space should be made for these kinds of activities.  But what often happens, I’m afraid, is that the experience becomes somehow sentimental, or routine.  This is not what we want, and this is not what we need.  When the trip to the woods, or the camping trip triggers these sentiments of remember when, or the good ole days, we may find ourselves seeking out more of these experiences that remind us of something deemed of greater significance, but the sentiment itself can also (maybe, just maybe) end up placed back on that dusty shelf of good times had while we dive back into the city and the day to day.

I’ve known this, and I’m now coming back to it, but we have to be able to reconnect on a day to day basis by learning to see the processes alive around us in our own backyards, on the sidewalk even, and amidst the cement and manicured lawns.  This is easier said than done, of course; but I think there’s a lot that can be said about the idea that everything you can know about the world and our place in it can be known by paying deep and sustained attention to what’s going on right where you are.  There are rhythms in the day regardless of whether you’re sitting in a field, or the woods, or at a bus stop.  The difficulty is, I think, the fact that we insulate ourselves from the rhythms.  We are distracted by our own, very real, and manufactured, problems of living.

This presents a very real challenge, to say the least.

One comment on “Problems with the Profound and Just Sitting Around

  1. Amber says:

    Great comments, Will. Sometimes I feel mundane with days in, days out. There is something about recharging when we are in nature, even if it is but for a moment.

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