Gateways of the Mind- Re-Learning the Already Known.
I feel like one of those street artists whose flamboyant chutzpah will draw a crowd only to watch him fall on his face or make his name by buying his painting, basket, or beaded necklace and getting themselves photographed with the ‘fellow they stumbled across’. WOW!
I want to weave an argument with only the reclamation that blew into the gutter over the past week.
Some scraps washed down:-
First: the publicist to whom my entire fortune has been paid departed with a wave of the ‘campaign’ hand. Over fifty two review books posted, not one review, not a single interview scheduled happened, and of those still ‘in the pipeline and due to deliver’ not one has. Nor have they even confirmed that they exist. Every email unanswered. Colour? Sludge green I’d say.
Second: a presumptive apology from a blogger I follow, who seemed to fear that she would not be able to put her two hours a day into feeding a poem to the seals waiting at noon. They might read less and less often. Well, this is a ‘zoo keeper’ who without fail posts a poem every day. What struck me was her feeling that she needed to apologize! Suddenly a gift becomes an expectation. That lends a purplish hue, like a bruise.
Third: the loss of a handbag from a locked shop. It happened like this: The night before I had a dream— I was dawdling round a modest antique market in a village hall when I saw another woman trying on a very perfect Edwardian outfit, lemon-yellow bell shaped skirt with pin tucked hem and tight trim waist, crisp white lawn blouse, both under a coat in putty coloured linen of such precision tailoring it made a cheetah look careless. I coveted it and waited with baited breath to see if the other women would bear it away. No, she rejected it! I snatched it up and realised that the woman who coveted that ’My Fair Lady’ look no longer existed. Not only was there no hope of those minute ‘hooks’ getting anywhere near their respective ‘eyes’, but I look dreadful in both yellow and putty. I woke up, desolate. ‘You are not who you think you are, or who you are trying to be’ Once a black hat, large shades and a long cigarette holder would pass muster for an Audrey Hepburn party. Now the Wreck of the Hesperus should be dressing down, in tweed and a hiding hat.
Yet the dream lingered and next day while killing time waiting for the cobbler to return with his lunch time sandwich, I drifted into a vintage clothing shop, newly opened, and opened up by an obliging beautician who held the key to the store in the owners absence. She drank coffee while I spun rails, gloomily mindful of the dream’s central message. I limited myself to the nearly burkas on the ‘not fit for Oxfam’ rail. Together we two left. She locked. I realised I had no bag. She re-opened. Bag had disappeared! Two people combing through a locked and people-free shop found no bag. Now ‘You really are nobody at all!’ Passport, Driving Licence, money, membership of anything cards, all gone. Into thin air.
For the weekend (next day) I had booked a place at the ‘Gateways of the Mind’ Conference’ in London. Was the loss of everything going to deter resolve? Very nearly, but no, I would not be vanquished by mere deluded misfortune. I had deserved it. Stuff happens.
This conference was promising to teach me how to Out of Body (OBE) at will and fly once I was ‘out’; introduce me to a power animal (Fish-eagle? Polar bear? Elephant?) which in Shamanic journeys would conduct me safely through the underworlds, and accompany me to the Himalayan heights of spiritual purity, and others would sooth my ruffled feathers with meditation, chanting and Tibetan bowls. What could go wrong?
Nothing went wrong. Not exactly. The bowls sounded just dandy, the meditations were great, but I could have done those at home. Each speaker diverted, and entertained. I wasn’t bored. It was just that the whole was less than the parts, and it is usually the opposite. This was frayed wadding of a greyish hue. In all the talk of new consciousness there was nothing of the numinous, nothing celestial, nothing grand or reverent; OBE’s were the new broadband tunings, better than Ayahuasca, safer than LSD. I came home with a new resolve.
I would not look for answers, images, advice, programs, how-to books, or marketing and publicity gurus ever again. That does not mean I shall stop reading what falls my way, but I won’t go looking anymore.
Suddenly this tapestry started to take shape and I recognised what has bugged me all along and why the word ‘platform’ makes me shudder. All those speakers were speaking from a platform and like everyone I have tried to emulate over the past year, (How much spent? Don’t ask) it was always through a loudhailer…my book…my method…my insight…my experience…my authority. Garish orange that clashes with every other colour I like!
Only a reader can validate a book. Who is an author to say (by whatever means?) ‘read my book…it will enlighten…assist…show you…anything?’ That may be true of how-to books written by conquering heroe(ine)s .People keep saying ‘If you don’t believe in it, why should anyone else?’ Truth is, they shouldn’t— unless they read and find it worthy of belief. (That was why publishers once existed, to broker belief.) How can I believe in something for which they are the only validation? How find them without waving garish orange which misrepresents the work in question? Liberty is its central component.
Guess what? As soon as I had clearly made up my mind on this, the telephone rang. My bag had been found—by a cleaner! All contents present and correct. I just forgot who I was and someone thought it worth while to remind me. The potency of symbols and living metaphors! Life keeps all the reins in hand. I shall slow to a walk through long dew grass, and see where the cavalcade takes me.