Chiang Mai: It’s late morning, getting near to noon and I have to go out and get something from 7-Eleven. Down in the elevator and it’s not far, along to the end of the lane, tall buildings on either side and the brightness of the daylight is astonishing as I step out of the shadow into the open space of the main road. Intensity of colour, noise, people and everything is undeniably what it is, no room for considering what it might be or might have been, a tendency we have – those of us originating in the indistinct climates of the northern hemisphere, colourless eyes and no pigmentation of the skin – to ponder like this over hypothetical situations, papañca, that proliferate without end.
This is the tropical, the equatorial, and all in uncompromisingly vivid maximum pixel, vibrant colour. This is how it is; clearly defined, good looking people with black hair and golden skin. And all with a will to go out there and get it done. We’re all in this together, including the pale foreigners, who live here with us for part of the year. This is the public domain, the shared environment, we are a large population accommodated in small houses and rooms and we like it like that. No allowances for personal space – what is ‘personal’ space? It’s structured to allow for large numbers of human beings who may carry with them their ‘personal’ space and other needs and requirements, their babies their infrastructural support systems, schools, hopitals, shopping malls, cars, motorbikes and everything as it is here and now, inherited from generations before us to whom we are grateful and pray for earnestly.
I’m having some resistance to the immediacy of it, I don’t want it to be like this; too bright, too public; I feel like an owl in the daylight, a nocturnal shadow, like I shouldn’t be here, cloaked in the darkness of my quiet space, buddhist vampires wither away. Same old story, just see this aversion without being overly attached to the thing. Have metta for the state of mind. There’s the getting into it; there’s the attachment, the ‘hook’ to get caught… or is it a ‘perch’ to rest on for a moment and look at the view… waves of samsara all around; I’m wanting ‘it’ to be ‘this’ and believing this is really how it is – the experience of being able to change the image in the mind’s eye, to make it be how I want it to be – a skill I learned as part of childhood conditioning. I can see the folly of it, the baseless fabric of this vision… all which it inherit, shall dissolve…’ it leads nowhere, exists for it’s own sake, momentarily and comes to nothing in the brightness. The sun shines through all parts of it; they become shadows, vapours and disappear.
It’s that ‘letting-go’ thing again. Why does it have to be like this? You could say there’s a kind of glue spread over objects and attention gets stuck on that. Seeing it like this means, of course, I recognise the possibility that there’s also a solvent that renders the glue unstickable, it doesn’t adhere and, there’s no need to remind myself to ‘let go’ because everything has been let go of already? There isn’t anything anyway that has the power to cause one to attach. It’s the mind that’s doing it. Stop creating it and there’s nothing there! I get what I need from 7-Eleven and back upstairs to the apartment, where it’s cool and quiet and shady.
‘Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air: And like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.’ [The Tempest Act 4, Prospero, scene 1, 148–158]