Mindfulness Refresher

Several years ago, when still a small child, my son was asked one Thanksgiving what he was thankful for, and without hesitation he replied “I’m thankful for the things I like”.

It made good sense, and now as I sit across from him as he enters adolescence, I’m reminded of a mindfulness lesson on parenting I once learned: that it’s important to pay attention to who your child is now, and now, and now, because you can’t go on assumptions of the past, and a child is continually growing and changing. The things he likes now are not the things he liked back then. As an older and one-time-only parent, I’ve tried hard to “keep up” and value each transition as they come, being glad it happened, not sad it’s over, as we like to say.

It’s also a good idea to try and keep up with yourself. I know I tend towards inertia in the things I pay attention to, whether they continue to be of interest to me or not. I am cleaning up a little bit this week, taking a vacation from Facebook and Starbucks, sorting out who and what I follow and why on various social media, and trying to list the things that still matter as well as those that don’t.

One thing leads to another. Several years ago when I first embarked on self-publishing (a topic I’m rapidly losing interest in, no longer seeing any difference between where books come from, as long as they interest me), among the first indie writers I came across was Marc Horne, who tweeted one day about a mixtape called Cumbia Bichera by an artist named El Remolon from Buenos Aires. That tweet led to a treasure trove of music I love from a label called ZZK Records, producers of many great musicians and recording artists such as Chancha Via Circutio, King Coya and Mati Zundel. ZZK Records releases a number of mixtapes for free in mp3 format on the web, so you can check them out. Mati Zundel released a new album which I was very excited to get ahold of today. I love how the world is becoming more and more connected all the time.

Of course there is still such a long way to go as many nations manage to exist in multiple millenia concurrently. Along with their beautiful music and art and literature we all more or less remain in the grip of superstition, ignorance and baseless fear of one another. One could easily develop a philosophy of despair and nihilism, which leads to another “thing I like” recently, the HBO television series True Detective. This show is featuring such a philosophy in ways I’ve never seen on TV or even in film. There’s a dark thread dating back through Lovecraft and Robert Chambers’ Yellow King, and followed through by contemporaries such as E.M. Cioran. Several reviewers of the show have dismissed these ramblings, even the references to the very modern M-brane theories of physics, as “dorm-room discussion”. I hadn’t realized so clearly before how many people think that after college, you are supposed to stop thinking about things altogether. Well, I never did stop and I hope I never will.

The detective (or is he the killer?) Rust Cohle brings up the idea that from the perspective of another dimension, one would not see time as linear, but flattened (like a flat circle, he says), in which all paths that were followed are permanently inscribed forever (much as a DVD appears to us – final, complete and fully searchable, we can go to any time on it at any time and it will always be the same thing).  It may be dorm-room speculation to some, but it also correlates to the fabled Australian idea of the Dream-Time, where eternity resides, or the sense of deja vu, or prophetic dreams, or other such stuff that can easily be dismissed as nonsense, and yet you wonder. Scientists have recently been able to extract images from dreams using machines. There are more things in heaven and earth and so on. And these are some things I still like.

I like it when I get a peek into a world I would never see otherwise, like the movies Wadjda or Persepolis, or more obscurely, the stories of Ben Ayoo or Nazli Hardy.
I’m always on the lookout for such things.

Some day there is an end. And you never know. I lost a sister-in-law to cancer this week, a wonderful, talented and brilliant person in the midst of  a great life with two adored young children. We travel this week to say our farewells. The hole that is left behind is a mortal hole for the living. For her, life is complete, her paths are permanently etched, but they will never be followed again.

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