Rooftop2POSTCARD #91: Delhi: The laptop crashed. Not once, many times. I had to take it to the technician and he said he wasn’t sure if he could fix it but anyway it would take a few days. Doesn’t speak English well, confusion, then there was the weekend too, another two days to wait and see, catastrophic feeling arising: Oh no! There’s something wrong, it feels like an illness, a kind of death; ‘All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become separated from me.’ I’m offline, the blogging world goes sailing by and I’m marooned on a desert island. Standing on the beach waving, shouting, jumping up and down, trying to get the attention of passing ships but they don’t see me. What to do? Sit at the desk among all the unplugged cables where the computer used to be. Write with a pen on a pad of paper – doodle and draw pictures instead. No focus in my life, no screen to look at. No need to be at the desk… why am I sitting here?

Rooftop5Get up and walk around; phone in pocket, go upstairs and walk on the roof terrace. It’s a sort of walking meditation path, jongkrom. Up and down, thirty five paces from end to end. Fifteen-hundred paces equal one mile, I need to walk the path 42 times to cover a mile – quite often I lose count and forget… the mind wanders. Basic mindfulness is about remembering what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Returning to the action itself, looking at the feet touching the earth one by one: left then right. The human body, this place I inhabit; it seems strange. I was a child once, learning to walk. How did it feel? Getting myself up here in the vertical position, stumble and fall – world goes sideways, get up again, walk… fall down. Try again, learning how to live my life. Seeing it all through the eyes of a person called ‘me’, a localised experience in a world of fifty million square miles of land space to walk on, and one of seven billion people on the planet. I’m the guy in the street; the ‘you’, the ‘me’. I am a single cell in an organism so vast it’s inconceivable.

Thirty five paces to the end, turn around and walk back. The brick floor looks like an abstract painting, take some photos, back to the walking. How does it feel? This sensation of stepping out from the past into the future but never getting there. Always in transit, housed in a kind of wobbly, thud-thud-thud, rubberoid, physical experience of present time that’s just rolling along. Awareness sees the ground spinning towards each foot like a treadmill driven by my walking… hamster in its spinning wheel. A fun thing to do, hamster’s idea of meditation. Everything happens in the movement towards a place I think I’m going; an arrival point that’s one among many, fixed end to end and disappearing into the perspective. I am the vanishing point; no beginning, no end, always only a part of the continuum. The seed sprouting from the earth is not how the story began, there was another tree before that…

Phone rings, Hello? It’s Jiab saying she’s on the way home with a laptop borrowed from the office. Relief floods through me – aware of the craving; that which is always seeking engagement. I understand what attachment is, so good to see it like this. I’m glad the laptop was taken away… glad too that another one is coming back. The walking has a new kind of ease. Electrical energy of Mind is grounded through footsteps touching the earth.

‘The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. Going is important, not arriving. Walking meditation is not a means to an end; it is an end. Each step is life; each step is peace and joy. That is why we don’t have to hurry. That is why we slow down. We seem to move forward, but we don’t go anywhere; we are not drawn by a goal. Thus we smile while we are walking.’ [Thich Nhat Hanh]



23 thoughts on “grounded

    • Thanks Ben, it’s an awareness of one’s attachment to the individual ‘me’, a single cell in the organism – understanding it’s that, and letting go of ‘self’, means ‘I’ am the whole organism…

  1. Tiramit, this piece is so well woven with your ending quote: moving towards it, and going through it. I love the quote, itself, as well, “The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself.” What a relief! When almost everything is meant to be a means to an end, this is a relief! And your photos are striking, by the way. Interesting connection to your words, the bricks both vertical and horizontal. Well expressed! — Elizabeth

    • Thank you Elizabeth, the roof photos look like abstract paintings because the builders used latex mixed with cement to fill the tiny cracks where the rain had soaked through and damaged the ceiling below. I like your idea of woven cloth; threads forming a structure of interconnected events and directions so vast that it includes everything…

    • This is it, a worrying thought. I’ve been putting it off for a long time because I didn’t know anybody who knew anybody. Language barrier, but I found a good guy in the end. Let’s see I’ll know by Monday…

      • We need more stories from you, What’s it like? What are the obvious differences? How do Indians see foreigners? Etc,.

        I’d love to post anything from you on the other blog.
        The Terrific Travels of Tiramit!

      • Ah yes, good question! I’m kinda peripatetic, living in two countries India and Thailand; very different from each other. One is a giant and the other is like a little bird. I sometimes feel I come from a different planet. Will keep you posted, I go to Thailand on Monday night – hoping to have the computer up and running by then, otherwise I’ll be looking for tech support in Bangkok – there doesn’t seem to be an end to it.

      • Hahaha, I’d love to post your stories about your life in those two countries. Actually, any story from you would be cool. Interested?
        We make no money here, but it would give you exposure. I can smell a book. I love the way you write. What say you?

  2. It’s true for me. Walking somehow inspires a deepening of thoughts and inspirations. Of course, I want to capture it, have a pen, a recorder, some means to trap or fix it. Oh well, I walk anyway, inspiration comes and goes in every step I take.

    Great post Tiramit!

    • Thanks Debra, I find it quite mysterious, this thing about a thought, inspiration arising during (after or as a result of) the walking period. It’s as if we allow the structure to fall away for a time, and when it reforms there are differences in it. Those that seem to fit are automatically integrated and the whole thing takes a new shape. I know the feeling of rushing to find something to write on so I can capture it…

  3. Amazing isn’t it, that loss of connectivity? There is a certain anti-electronica movement out there, but I try and see the gifts of the internet as something akin to an extended sense organ. Without it I wouldn’t have access to this nourishing community of expression and recognition.

    I love the image of you resorting to pacing. You described it eloquently, but my sense was that at first, it was pacing… and then even in the simple act of walking an opening arises. All are connected with or without the tweetledom. Then, the rescue!

    I love it. But no jatinga? (I can’t remember the word… the stationary bike?)


    • Thank you Michael, I like the idea of the internet being ‘an extended sense organ’ linked to the community. I’m now a disabled person in that sense, computer has to be repaired again and it’ll take a week maybe. Using the phone keyboard one-fingeredly and developing skills in defeating the spellchecker that goes around changing all the words unasked-for. Trying to think of it in the same way as what you’re saying about the pacing exercise; something arises in the engagement with it. Having to invent solutions to problems I’m not immediately familiar with. Intuitive reaching gets me connected with or without the tweetledom (economise by using your words). Sadly no jatinga (jitensha) here, nearly 2000 miles away from this location in Chiang Mai but I’ll find a nice fitness place soon. Cycling on a stationary bike seems appropriate 🙂

    • Thanks Ellen, it’s v supportive. ‘Being unconnected is humbling’, my computer crashed again. Now I’m writing this in WordPress mobile in Chiang Mai, v small keyboard. Have to visit the computer repair man and it’ll take a few days. In the meantime I’ll be thinking about the book project, remembering our discussion and your suggestion for a book title, more later…

    • Thanks Val, this is exactly it. There’s that stretched out feeling of holding on to something then it snaps and you’re left suspended. The battery is gone, I feel I have no energy, can just about make it downtown to the repairman… Using WordPress on my phone to write this reply, shadow of large finger on tiny alphabet key…

  4. Pingback: interconnectedness | dhamma footsteps

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