POSTCARD#79: Aberdeen Scotland: Wandering through these streets and lanes looking for my childhood; searching for something that’ll tell me what it was like more than 50 years ago as I walked along the route to school in all kinds of weather. The present time as it was in the past, brought forward into the ‘now’. All the shops have gone, been demolished, rebuilt and everything has become something else. Only civic amenities and urban architecture remain, paving stones, cast iron lampposts, doorways and gates. An iron gate hinge embedded in stone but no gate – is it something I passed on my way to school? Do things like this survive at below-zero temperatures for 50 freezing winters? Not impossible, everything is made of granite here, indestructible. Following my footsteps as a child, along these same streets that were old even then. There’s an unusual shaped crack in a paving stone that looks like a tree, strange familiarity, a passing recognition – the kind of thing a child would notice, head down and leaning against the wind.
Is it the same wind now, after all these years, flowing like a river from its source to the sea estuary and every single part of it moving always in present time everywhere along its length? The scale of it is so immense, a whole lifetime can seem like a day, an hour, a moment – and did I glance down at this tree-like crack in the paving stone when I was a child and react in the same way I’m doing now, thinking… how strange, it looks like a tree! What is it that makes one thing seem to be something else? Is this the recollection of a physical feature, or a memory of the perception of it? Remembrance of things past, former lives… it feels like yesterday, the nearness of it. It feels like now – or somewhere on the journey to get there.
There’s also a feeling of far-awayness, the day before yesterday I was on a flight from Delhi, transit in London to Inverness. Jet lag and bewilderment, scanned by X-ray machines, identified, processed, held in aircraft cabin pressure for 10½ hours and transported 4000 miles to the Northern hemisphere. Then placed on the ground and having to quickly reassemble the parts of who I am in this new context. A visit to the tribal elders, then into Aberdeen to revisit these childhood days. Coastal winds, cloudy skies – and when the sun comes through, the heat is intense. Raincoat on, raincoat off again, I don’t really feel I’m connected with the pattern of things here after so long in the East, sun shines all the time and years go by but it’s just like one very long day. Thought processes are without substance, fade away, and if I don’t reach out for the next thought, there’s nothing there. There’s a memory of how it was when I was a child here in the North of Scotland, I’m holding that in mind but when I let go… it’s gone. The wind blows and a feeling comes back again that triggers a memory, then it’s carried away with the sound of seagulls and the smell of the sea…
‘… a sense of existing right now, a sense of life looking out your eyes, and life feeling through your senses into this experience, this space of the room, this place. It’s like we are a sense apparatus for raw life, raw consciousness, which feels through us as instruments with five or more senses. What is sensed registers in awareness — this knowingness of existence, this knowingness that is existence itself…’ [Mukti, adyashanti.org]