Mental noise

Eckhart Tolle starts out his CD lecture Through the Open Door with the following:

You didn’t come here to be fed new thoughts, concepts, ideas. Perhaps a few signposts, they are useful. But you didn’t come here to collect more signposts, which say “Rome,” or “Mecca,” or “Enlightenment,” and then carry them home, put them in your library or living room: “Isn’t that a beautiful signpost?” Or worship the signpost — a concept, an idea, a thought. In a way that’s why you are here so that the opposite of that can happen: a relinquishing of concepts and ideas.

Ultimately … relinquishing thought. What is stillness other than the state of consciousness that is free of noise?

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Ah, mental noise. I can conjure up the most real and alarming nervousness — gut-gripping, esophagus-tightening, and who knows what other physiological symptoms if i cared to inventory them — simply by thinking about … well, here are two items on my mind at the moment:

  • ONE — Ever since i tried at age 16 to hitchhike across Canada, and was defeated by that endless stretch of empty road north of Lake Superior, and gave up and retreated to Winnipeg to fly home to Montreal, this very route i am bussing at the moment has intimidated me. Who hasn’t heard the stories of being stranded in Wawa, that travellers’ wasteland, the very embodiment of purgatory, if not hell itself, for the nervous traveller like me, who is, even as i scribble these notes, en route to that selfsame, broken-promised land.
    It’s a 10-hour Greyhound marathon on a crowded bus with few rest stops. Ever since i left Vancouver with Montreal in mind, this stretch has loomed large in my mind. Can i survive it? How will i be affected by sitting on my ass for this long? Blood clots in my legs? Will i go mad, leaping from the bus on some lonely curve, never to be heard from again?
  • TWO — But that’s kid stuff compared with the gut-stab i can give myself by turning my thoughts to my looming return to the West Coast. At that point i’ll no longer be able to put off the issue of what i’m going to do with myself. I have some time (= money) saved up, so i won’t have to rush into some noxious job just to stay fed. That’s a mercy, but it’s a time-limited mercy and i cannot forget that making a living will reassert itself sooner or later.
    For me, though, the gripping issue is where i am going to live, which will have a seminal influence over everything else.
    My present state of homelessness is not a comfortable one, a fact especially highlighted for me after a month in the retirement complex that now passes for the familial home, where i can crash with a modicum of belonging. Anywhere and everywhere else in the world for me now, it’s imposing on friends (if i’m lucky) or night-by-night, at a nightly rate that will make short work of those aforementioned savings.
    It’s the work of finding a home that scares me most: that element of competition with other prospective tenants, that creepy interview process in a shared house (my preferred option). I don’t have a large network of friends to tap in finding a place, i’m not interested in adopting the upbeat “people” energy to make the interviewees pick me, pick me! But you gotta sleep somewhere, damn it, put your stuff somewhere. So i’ll need a place. And thinking (or rather, worrying) about that really cranks me up.

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But that’s all in imagination land at the moment. Here’s the apparent truth from the here-and-now of my situation: I’m in a comfortable, if pinched, aisle seat halfway back on Greyhound coach #973, hurtling smoothly eastward beneath an unveiled sun, overlooking mile after mile of heartbreakingly beautiful, wild, coruscating Lake Superior shore. I’m not hungry, though i have a bag full of good food if i get that way, and although i’m going to want to get out and stretch and walk around pretty soon, life is damn good.

There is, of course, the young man sitting next to me to consider. He’s Middle Eastern, i think, and hasn’t said a single word in five hours despite my conversational overtures, and he seems to be praying to Allah in his seat more often than strictly necessary. He has no watch, no carry-on, no hat or clothes apart from what he’s wearing, and apparently no luggage, as though he has nothing to carry, nowhere to go — conceivably because he may well have a suitcase full of explosives down in the luggage compartment under the bus, set with a timer to go off at 12 noon exactly, and here it is 11:56, and life is sweet, and maybe i have four short minutes to live, and lord knows this is all in my head but i feel my gut churning about it nonetheless and yessir, here we go again….

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