A LONG TIME AGO I had the idea to write a book. It was 1983, I’d just started travelling around Asia and all this colourful, exotic stuff around me, I’d never seen before. So I started making notes. That was okay but I got stuck with it; no story-line, no plot and, for a while, I thought the story could be a kind of unfolding of events as they went along… but this was too wide, I needed to narrow things down a bit. Too complex, it’d give me a headache. I kept on making notes, anyway, believing that a story would reveal itself in the course of time, but it never did and I never figured it out. Years went by and I just carried on with more and more notes. Now I’ve got five A4-sized ring folders of typed notes I managed to print out from an old hard drive just before it finally crashed about 10 years ago, and I’m scanning these back into text files bit by bit. Also there are all these little old notebooks full of scribbles I have difficulty deciphering today – it’s like they were written by somebody else. I’m telling you this because this is how the blog came into being. The posts are developed from these old notes; you could say, altogether, this is the book I never wrote.
The difference is there’s a distance now that wasn’t there then. There’s no obvious author, thoughts without a thinker, it’s very much more indirect than it was. There are these faded old notes written by the younger me, on yellowing paper, etched into the surface with a dried-out ball-point pen and I don’t remember half of it. Now they seem to be a bit reckless, stepping into that magical world of heightened feelings that generates a kind of gripping intensity: the experience itself… what’s this? what’s that? Things had to be written down quickly before they’d disappear and I’d not be able to remember, suddenly – wow! gone, they’d vanish and all I’d have were the fragments of their being there.
Of course, it was stress all the way; trying to hold on when holding-on wasn’t needed. The urgency of it going past too fast, whole scenarios flashing by like buildings seen through the windows of a moving vehicle and you see this shadowy reflection of yourself in glazed shop windows, looking out from a taxi or bus or car and always in the same position: the point of reference… Then I started to slow down, one thought-moment, then another thought-moment – we can’t have two thoughts at the same time – thinking is the linking thing. And eventually I arrived at an understanding that this is what the process is; a mindful effort to experience consciousness of the real live situation as it’s going along. Haphazard things that before just seemed to fit in as happy coincidences, came to be more like a recognition that all things are related anyway; similarities that link parts of the story together in a kind of inevitability of circumstances.
So there’s now this quiet familiarity, and it’s more relaxed. Being free of the great rush that lasted all these years, I reckon I’ve arrived… yes, that’s it, the purpose in life has been achieved. I can see, though, there’s also something here that tells me it could be that I’m just experiencing normality. Isn’t this just ordinary reality? Isn’t this, in fact, the place where ‘normal’ people abide all their days, and what’s been happening is I’ve been practising brinkmanship, acting slightly mad all these years and have only returned to ordinariness? Ah well, whatever… I’m pleased because how could you not be? How much better and more mindful it is now compared to how it was then. And, okay, the transformation from that to this maybe makes it seem like something more than it is. Well, ho hum, it could be that the release from that samsara is all that can be achieved in one lifetime and just being happy with small miracles is all there is – nothing else needs to be done. So I go on here in this quiet place with the pleasantness of simple things and every day seems quite wonderful.