Winter is setting in. We had some flurries yesterday. I spent a lot of time writing online, concentrating on ideas, thoughts, feelings, and other stuff in my head. It made me feel restless and a bit dyspeptic. I wanted to walk; I needed to walk. The harvest moon rose full at sunset, and we walked around the wetlands of the county grounds. The cold was sharp and stung my nose and ears. I felt my thighs and feet going numb. It was a welcome discomfort, inviting me to feel my body and feel alive, real and physical.
Winter can be a time of cabin fever when things feel insular and unreal. There are so many ways to distract myself from the basics, ways I can move from one bubble to the next without popping up for clear air. So today, I felt like working with my hands. I took my tools out to the backyard and broke apart the CD cabinet that’s been sitting there for 11 months. It was good to observe rot and rust and decomposition. I put the flat boards back down on the ground to make a home for insects and their relatives. Come spring, I know where I can find some specimens for my nature walks. I took a few other boards to make a bird feeder station on the old wicker chair. Later, I’m going to make some broccoli cheddar soup.
Work, things, tools. How do you see your relationship to the world? Are things merely static objects? Are things actually doings or beings as Alan Watts would suggest (e.g. this isn’t a ‘tree’, it’s a ‘treeing’ – a dynamic process)? If I pick up a dishrag and begin to clean, I am entering a relationship with the rag, the dishes, the water, the soap. I want to know more about each of these things, pay attention and appreciate their qualities and how I experience them.
Sometimes, this seems like an unnecessary complication. I learned from Sesame Street that certain things are alive and others aren’t. Does that mean that I can control those inanimate objects and do whatever I want with them? Great. That sounds simple. But what if that’s just one way of looking at things and not The One Correct Way? What would I learn or experience about life if I looked at everything as a being?
These might be good questions for next week’s Socrates Cafe meeting. Meanwhile, there are some pots and pans in the kitchen sink longing for a relationship with me.