The problem with distractions, like painting pots, market research or seeing people…. A friend of mine said “The REAL problem with all that is that keen observation falls away. Keen, precise observation can only take place when alone and when the mind is empty. No matter what one does, true observing is at the center and soul of it…..so after spending hours alone doing nothing, I walk to the forest and see many things that I had not seen this morning…..mind was empty, hungry if you like.”
Instinctively I know she is right, and I feel full to overflowing with food and drink and meaningless petty daily chores. I feel sick with it. I want to vomit so that I will feel empty and clean inside. I want then to walk in the clear fresh air after the rain stops, to smell plants and feel the molecules of air pass through my hands, as I did before. There is a way this can happen. I just have to learn to practice it. The morning pages are supposed to be that way.
Over a few bottles of beer with this friend in the pub, I mentioned the emptying and she reported having spent two and a half years in therapy learning how to empty herself and her advice was simple “Just find a good therapist and get on with it”. But the process seems to me to be risky. First of all there’s the guarded stuff, then there’s the ‘cost-benefit analysis’, which suggests the cost will be high and the benefits indeterminate. Then there’s the fear that deconstructing without reconstructing will leave the workshop floor covered in unidentifiable parts – the motorbike, which when rebuilt doesn’t work, and those extraneous cogs and bolts which are still lying on the workshop floor with no clear function – except to help the bike become functional again.
An image is made up of the emotional, the psychological and the visual. I left out the bins on Thursday – one for recycling, one for household waste and between them a large piece of cardboard which wouldn’t fit in either. They emptied the bins and turfed the cardboard onto the roadside where it became sodden. At least now it fits into one of the bins, even though little else will. The image was piteous. My sense of place in that image, like an oversized box not fit to be thrown out, not fit to be kept. The self-pitying misery of that image.
What is the alternative to emptying the mind? Can it be cleared up without emptying – when the workshop is full and needs spring cleaning, does everything have to come out in order to do that? Can it be worked through like some Buddhist retreat process? Heal thyself? OK, so. What do we need to do? Analyse, pigeonhole, compartmentalize, throw out and nurture.