When I woke this morning it was with a strong sense that I was surveying a whole new vista, a world teeming with apparently new and unbridled potential laid out like a glistening landscape right in front of my very ‘eyes’. Every most fleeting and teasing idea that had not quite conceived itself into being lately, all the projects yet waiting to take off from the ground and more, seemed to be dancing in my peripheral vision, like sea anemone waving in a gentle current; formed yet deliciously amorphous, prepared to be coerced into shape by whatever it is that I chose to do next. Between me and all this, a whole barrier reef of old ‘stuff’ seemed to have melted away in the night, clearing my view. Last night’s ‘super’ blood moon eclipse felt like such an incredible opening, I could literally feel it drawing me to the brink of something, like a diving board into the unknown. In the run-up, it felt like every shadowy thing in me, every last hidden motivation that kept tripping me, was being coerced out into the daylight by its tidal-tugging and, in the soft morning light that followed, what I looked at felt far clearer than anything I could ever imagine feeling, as if all the old reactions to everything had been swept away, left in neutral.
Every minutest theme, these weeks, has been about clearing and cleaning and letting go until what I have been left with is some kind of zero point, a blank slate that makes all the other blank slates show up clearly for the misnomer they really were. Never before have I had such a strong sense that earlier re-set points (all such invaluable stages on my journey, yes) were still their own set of reactions to other circumstances; outcomes triggered by aversion, attempts to move in the opposite direction away from something I didn’t like, was desperate to leave behind. Nothing wrong with that but where the heart is not its own motivation – and even though there is something satisfyingly dynamic about movement in any direction – such steps may still get you no nearer to the heart than you ever were. To know the difference is to see clearly how even so many of those places that once seemed as though they were born of preference were actually their own version of reacting or choosing contrary ‘to’; avoiding or running away ‘from’; pushing, defending, mitigating or taking a stand ‘against’; preparing to deal, manage or cope ‘with’; so often, colouring-in that entity labelled ‘me’ in one way because society, parents or some other belief system tried to colour it in another. Sometimes the contradiction of this showed up the most readily in those areas where I told myself I had carved the most liberties – though at what price when those liberties are played out by adherence to an equally strict code you have set up to protect against what you don’t want. Often, where I thought I had most gone my own expressive way, living my life free as a bird against the flow of one of life’s stronger currents, it turned out that it was the very strength of that contra-flow that gave so much power and lift to my wings; yet how wearying to be caught up in so much effort to fly in your own contrary flight-path all the time, hadn’t his just become my own version of struggle? When do any of us just stop trying so damn hard, pushing against the brute wind, to do whatever it is we’ve labelled so damn important and made our pet mission in life, our speciality (which, for some people, is struggle itself)?
Even in the area of health, where I thought I had all but ironed-out the obvious resistance points, self-perpetuating themes and triggers, I began to newly identify some much deeper ones that were continuing to set me off way beyond the conscious level of my thought -processes and behaviours. These ones apparently served to repeat biological behaviour in me that went all the way back to base, to trigger experiences that began as reactions set in motion in the earliest days of multiplying cells, sured-up by ‘enforcing’ experiences as a very young child or in the womb and even by the expectations, fears and stuck-points of my parents (their circumstances, misgivings and fears) at the time they conceived me…then, beyond that, found deep in the DNA coding passed on for eons of repeating human behaviour patterns. So much enlightenment, so much daylight has been shone into dark corners in recent weeks and then the benefit of shaking myself into a whole new level of release from all of that, like a soaking dog who – in one gloriously audacious moment of spinning his torso this way and that – shuns off so much water from his heavy coat in a spiral of glistening droplets as he comes out of the river that he is rid of it all in a moment. In my own experience, those layers feel like they are not only shedding but that they are no longer mine; perhaps never were – not really. If my own experience is anything to go by, the average human being is just one giant conglomeration of minuscule reactions to a billion unseen triggers amassed from the moment they materialised in biological form; marvellous to see all that for what it was and watch it dissolve away like plaque – but, where was the ‘me’ that I cherish so much in the middle of it all; where were my unique choices?
Life lived in reaction is like driving a car with gears, it provides traction and moves us along a road, often taking us – what feels like – very far through the landscape of self-improvement and achievement. Measured that way, we get to feel the accomplishment of every hill climbed, every narrow bend negotiated, all the near-misses to drive yet another day. As such, we learn to crave those bumps in the road for all the ways they give our tyres something to rub against, giving us the sense of moving along but, while we continue to transport ourselves that way, we can’t think of expecting that the road will ever stop delivering what we crave as it never, ever, will. That road can go on for all eternity if we really want it to or if we don’t stop to realise there are alternatives.
Without the rubs, the pushes, the triggers, the reactions-to, the fears, the avoidances, the fixed ideas…what then? Life without gears, run from the torus ‘engine’ of the heart, fired by that obscure thing that we really want to know the experience of, the reason we chose life…gulp! It can be terrifying, at first, to dump the gears and go after this kind of experience; our purpose can feel intangible, fictitious, illogical, terrifyingly abstract, it may even feel like we are going nowhere at all for a very long time (by old definitions), can feel like free-fall from a high-up place with no safety net, like we have lost it or on the road to self-destruct. How can we measure or predict or even explain to others what we are all about without telling them, first, what we are – in effect – in opposition to (poverty, ill-health, injustice, obscurity – these are some of the prime motivations we use as our career and lifestyle gears). What if our stance in relation to anything else – our differences, what we are not and what we push against – doesn’t even come into it and self-realisation from the heart – what we choose to affirm, to assert, to flower out of ourselves, to blossom, in entirely positive terms – is literally everything?
Maybe – obscure as it may seem – something like this is dawning upon you too; I know it is for many people. If it is, you may feel temporarily lost at sea, like everything you ever believed in, worked for, fought against and wanted with a passion has drifted out of sight, lost its sheen or like you don’t even know where you are headed anymore, have no foothold on ‘the future’. Its a hard thing to get your head around so I suggest you don’t even try as that throws everything you are newly-feeling straight back into a hard structure of criteria that boxes it up, labels it and (‘safe’ and ‘orderly’ though this may seem) only limits it all over again….rather, just be it, wear it, encompass it, ride-it-out, meld with it, allow it, be gently led by it, trust it, play with it. Let joy be your guide, allow the gentle current of what you love take you where it will; allow it to spontaneously invite you up to dance to the beat of unexpected excitement, found in the moment, without ever seeking that excitement out as an end in itself. Allow, equally, that those things that you might once have labelled ‘bad’ to pass through like different colours on a palette and just be with them, without defining them, and see where they lead; allowing also, if you can, that they come bearing gifts. If not sure where to go, we can look at our motivations – are we running from something, reacting to something or is this what we would choose from the heart-centred intuition of this moment; that unfailing rule of thumb. We can tune-inwards and find all the most coherent, least knee-jerk, answers waiting for us whenever we want to call on them and (for those who fear none of this is compatible with ‘real’ life responsibilities), the more we do this, the easier it gets to manoeuvre in some very tangible, ‘real-world’ ways.
If you are feeling any of this, get used to it as this IS the new reality (possibly the most real thing we’ve come up against in years, locked up as we’ve been in the ivory tower of our belief systems). It seems we are stepping out of the Newtonian paradigm of cause and effect, of mechanism and gears into something quantum and unlimited, hemmed-in by nothing more than the extent of our own willingness to embrace it; so (for those who want to – it is, absolutely, a choice), here’s to waking up to embracing such unbridled potential as has never before been unleashed by our own incredible human minds.
Many people are referring to this stage in human evolution as a process of entering five-dimensional experience and I am among them; in fact, I believe that such experience has always been available to us and that I have been party to it for quite some time. My recently revived fascination with synesthesia slots into this as it dawns upon me that synesthesia is an aspect of five-dimensional experience because the synesthete’s way of experiencing the world gathers ‘information’ using every available sensory interface without strictly labelling that data as one thing or another (for instance, colour, sound, smell…etc. are interchangeable reference points for processing the very same experience ‘data’) and this, in fact, has the effect of broadening all of the combined, inter-connected, experiences until they become considerably ‘more’ than the sum of their parts. It is an expansive modus operandi, one which is exponential in its potential and, I feel sure, synesthesia is only the tip of the iceberg of what is humanly possible (and only one aspect of it).
I read that a theory is put forward by physician Oliver Sacks, in his latest book “Musicophilia”, that we might all be colour-hearing synesthetes until we lose connection between these two area of the brain at about three months. Its a similar theory to one I have nurtured for some time; that, probably, we are all set-up as synesthetes and that this is taught and conditioned out of us by the formative experiences of our first three or four years. That is, within the current world paradigm, the culturally-imposed drive to label and compartmentalise everything is so dogmatic that, by that age, most of us have learned to over-ride any natural impulses we may have to keep things super-fluid (thus allowing unlimited sensory-data-exchange to continue as a useful trait) and have, instead, begun the process of diligently hanging strict definitions, labels and other ‘relevancy’ coding around everything in our experience, unlearning all the rest. In so doing, like any good librarian, we tuck data away into ‘appropriate’ aisles and filing cabinets, within the appropriate section of our brain, and only access it again according to the provision of the relevant master key from a very large bunch – one for each compartment – which then determines which type of data we give ourselves access to in any situation. From that point onwards, sound ‘obviously’ isn’t stored under the heading ‘colour’, ‘taste’ under the heading ‘sound’ and so on…or is it?
For the synesthete, experience is quite different – all options are kept wide open and, on searching for information, they are very likely to tip everything they’ve got out of all the filing cabinets, onto the floor, and to piece together a collage of all kinds of sensory data, cross-referencing all the terminology and reference points they’ve got – welcome to my world! To some people, this might look like an unholy mess all over the floor – any wonder our parents and schools have played such a significant part in perpetuating the training program away from this approach – but to some of us it is the very playground of all potential. Unsurprisingly, it is an approach to living that is most readily embraced by the artists among us; resembling, as it does, the outer workspace (in which everything is regarded as potentially useful) with which we are probably already familiar.
Yet, while it gets closer to something five-dimensional, even the modern-day experience of synesthesia can get hung up on the three-dimensional preoccupation with definition and labelling. What flagged this up for me was my daughter (who is a synesthete) commenting yesterday that the only reason she is not looking forward to being sixteen is that it is orange, her least favourite colour…so, yes, like me she sees numbers as colour (known as grapheme – a common version of synesthesia) yet she still attaches strong association with those colours, which only broadens the range of trigger-repercussion those associations have across a range of life-experiences; or, is the gift of this that it work both ways? For instance, if ‘brown’ is associated with an uncomfortable feeling and that colour can be incorporated into an otherwise beautiful melody (as I type this, I can immediately think of a piece of music that I ‘see’ as brown and which I enjoy listening to) then it could be attached to a whole new association and, in effect, reinvented as an experience; literally, softened or healed.
These are tactics that I am well aware of using for myself as I play with the juxtaposition of different sounds, a range of experiences (including pain), many colours, different circumstances, the changing seasons and many more entirely interchangeable sensations through my daily activities, my love of music, a passion for food, a knack for creating atmosphere and emotion through space, lighting and aroma and the fact I am an artist who spends so much time experimenting with pigment and form. The degree to which I unleash myself to paint, the unlimited way I open up my thoughts as I do this, listening to whatever sounds I choose to accompany the activity, the effect of the light and the seasons, of everything else that is ‘happening’ all around me and the way I surrender to all of these things and let them flow in and out of each other, using me as a focal point, works powerfully to heal and reveal big themes inside (me) and out (my painting) – I have no doubt about that. I am never ‘just’ painting. We can all bring this degree of expanded mindfulness to the circumstances of our daily activity, placing ourselves knowingly as the pivot point of so many intersecting experiences, and then watch as our experience unfolds at a whole new dimension.
The gift of approaching life in this entirely unbridled, uncompartmentalised, uncynical and entirely love-struck way (because you should prepare to fall back in love with life when you live like this) is on a scale beyond anything I can do adequate justice to in words but I do believe it is a skill set that is commonly available to us all and always has been; even if many of us put it down for a while, believing it to be the messy stuff of childish ways. There’s nothing childish about throwing out the structures that have kept us ‘safely’ tucked inside our belief systems for so very long and there is such a sense of maturing back into playfulness to take a leap into the unknown without any of the so called guarantees that we like to tell ourselves we are accustomed to and dependent on. For a few moments, yes, we are left blinking in the dazzle of the newly expanded vista beyond the walls of all the old belief systems that dissolve to the ground when we tell them they are no longer needed to sure up our inner world – and it can be disorienting to blast our human perspective out of all limitation – but there is such an expanded view on the other side!
More on synesthesia – Colours passing through