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January 8, 2015: Awareness

In Zen and Horseback Riding, Tom Nagel says that the spaces in between thoughts are what are most significant. He writes “we are not normally aware of most of . . . experience because our focus is on our thoughts and these thoughts filter our experience. Often our thoughts occur so rapidly that we remain unaware of their separateness. However, the experience between them is there.”

Furthermore we “need to think who is thinking these thoughts.” In other words, we need to step back and from a distance, consider who it is that watching the so-called movie of the mind. This is detachment.

Nagel also says that each thought we have is either a description of the past or a projection of the future. By watching our thoughts, we observe the surrounding experiences. The direct experience is called the present moment. Additionally, refining posture and breath enable us to slow our thought, bring our awareness into the present and experience all that surrounds us and connects us to all life.

I was this morning originally going to write about organization, but then I got to thinking about the space between breaths. This then led to my looking up the above quote. The actual, physical act of doing this was very easy because the book was handy. And the book was handy because Pete built upstairs bookshelves, making the bedroom space a real office. He also put in carpeting in my work area, so the chair no longer slides around. Anyhow, I was able to reach for the book, which was on the second shelf on my right.

Nagels’s insights momentarily derailed me. Being derailed is a good thing because derailment is in a manner of speaking, getting off track. And getting off track is a form of derailment. Hah. So much for linearity. I badly wanted to write about organization. However, I abandoned it, and went on to instead write about what I’m calling the transitory moment, which is equally worth exploring. Chugga chugga choo choo.

I need to pay more attention to the space between breaths. These are transitions of sort. I go in writing from word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter – no, that’s far too linear – I jump back and forth between all of the above. Buteachspaceinbetweenissignificant.

Allowing for change and spontaneity is a good thing. This opens the door to what I most value as a writer, incongruity. Making connections between things that seemingly are not at all similar (to me) is the ultimate form of creativity.

I’m close to being done with the If Wishes were Horses proposal. Pete’s going to print it up at school because my printer isn’t working. In the meantime, I’m back to working on the draft, going through it and make some revisionary changes. So there has been a brief, transitional moment. There is going to be a larger one – when I finish this, I’m going to return to working on Lessons Twice Learned.

What I need to do is to be accepting of the space in between projects. This space then feels empty; there is no sense of accomplishment. I merely move on to the next project, and quickly. Process always superseded final product.

I think I’m going to start to take five minutes out of each hour of writing, and stretch out.

The space between thoughts can also be likened to the space in between breaths. The most tangible aspect of this (for me) comes in working with the horses. Having signed up for agility gave me what in doing groundwork I was lacking, a much-needed structure. Today I am going to work with Dick Stoffel – am going to talk about the space between breaths, and also about halt halts and intention. I was going to come up with a detailed plan, but instead I am just going to let things happen. However, we are going to first start working on the ground.

I like Nagel’s book because it appears small and insignificant. However, there is a lot to it. Every work seems to count. He is a man who is aware of awareness.

Next: 9. 1/9/15: Fun and Games

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