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  • Writer's pictureJulen Murguia

Rope-burn and Ghosts 👻

Not too long ago, I was waking up a bit more disoriented than usual. It seems that the incessant spinning round the sun had gotten me woozy. It was a sort of acute vertigo I felt when looking down the layers of sediment in the steep canyons of my memory...

Don’t you wish sometimes everything would just stop… for a bit? 

Just be here, now…

Funny thing is, there is only “now”, and “now” is forever in flux. At so many levels, in so many ways. Vegetation spills over and drowns concrete jungles in oceans of green…bursting through the thin shell of crumbling asphalt. Mountains churn from the earth like titanic waves as their crests dissolve into foaming sand eroded by the caressing wind. Everything is in constant motion, down to atoms. There’s not a single molecule in your body that is “static”.

Our perception of a unified “nowness” is an illusion — our black-box of a mind seems to do some funky jazz to consolidate the multiple “happenings” that are occurring at various rates, into a feeling of stability and constancy. (Of course, this begs the question; what is the ”I” that has remained the same despite all the change – but that’s for another time… maybe). As the wise, ancient song 'row, row your boat' goes: “life is but a dream”.

I don't know about you, but it isn’t immediately obvious to me that the world is dissolving in on itself at an incomprehensible rate. But one has only to pay a certain kind of attention for the floor to suddenly drop out from under.

So. It seems there’s been a terrible confusion. Who knows where we got the idea that things are stable, or that there could ever be anything other than flux. Perhaps language (our usual suspect) is partly to blame, for every noun is really a verb. Existence is a process. People are events.

I suspect this has to do with our obsessive, over-identification with symbols. Thinking that our representations of reality are reality. And of course, symbols and representations are real. They are real as symbols and representations… just as a map is not the territory. But symbols tend to seem more “stable” than the wiggly and amorphous nature of reality.

And it’s this confusion, really, that has created a great deal of friction in my life. Attachment to the transient provides a whole lot of trouble. If you’ve ever had “new toy syndrome” you know what I’m talking about. Them shiny, new shoes will get dirty!

Ok, so all I have to do is let go right? But wait… how do you do that? Maybe, “letting go” starts becoming more accessible when we realize, without a shadow of a doubt, that there’s no-one and no-thing to hold onto in the first place. It’s cliche for a reason. But perhaps a way to pump life back into this platitude is by paying close attention to the nature of being, which is available in every waking moment (help yourself to it!) — just check out your breath or heartbeat. (Has it ever been any other way?)

“This too shall pass”... 

This notion is great news for painful experiences but… it also makes me kinda sad. Especially if there is even the slightest measure of love and beauty in one’s life...*sigh* I’m terrible at goodbyes — but that’s just the thing. Goodbyes are part of life. And so is sadness. And that’s okay. Beauty is always tinged in shades of blue. What can be mitigated is the infamous “suffering” (or “Dhukka”, as it’s called in some circles). The rope-burn one gets from clinging onto ghosts.

Ironically, the more we latch onto our ideas (the more we are in our head), the less we actually pay attention to, and are present with what is currently unfolding, to the people we love, to the infinite host of experience that is. Our practice/work lies in learning to become more awake to the ever present mystery (and I don’t say that lightly).

It’s definitely a challenge to truly and deeply accept this fact (like, for real). I absolutely still struggle with it. But the times I manage to come back to this realization and genuinely live in it, there’s a noticeable shift in my attitude towards whatever moment I may be in. And whoever I may be with. A release from a certain tension, a clenching of the spirit/mind.

For the longest time I’d try as hard as I could to stretch the day, to hold on to the edge of the horizon well into the night. Quite literally raging against the dying of the light. Then I realized I’m more of a morning person and that the sun keeps doing its thing every day, despite my protesting. So rather than fight it, I’ve started rising earlier to meet it — which has consequently had a great impact on my productivity! Though I understand not everyone is a morning person. 

So, if you're looking for a place to start, consider dedicating five or, honestly, even three minutes a day to simply observing your thoughts. Your breath. The sounds around you. Don’t judge or analyze, just watch. It’s a small step, but one that can lead you back to the ever unfolding center, again and again. Like finding one’s balance on the board we use to surf the rolling waves of life.

Turns out the best way to rage against the dying of the light is by fully embracing its ephemerality.

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