A few months ago, desperate to shake off the heaviness of grief and get a new grip on that thing called life, I signed up for a daily dose of guided meditation. The first day, as I vividly remember, was wonderful. Not because I had suddenly found the key to mental equilibrium, but because the voice guiding me said everything that was working against it, in me, was normal. My mind was crowded with several questions and fleeting thoughts, pointless observations that never made it into a story or anything worthy, and a million opinions that would never be shared because the eggshells around the people who would learn of them would crack underfoot and leave a mess. And that was supposedly normal. Meditation doesn’t require a firm hold on emptiness, or tidying up the clutter in the mind, the voice said, soothingly. It only requires a primary committment so one could separate oneself from the gridlock in the mind, and become an onlooker. And allow the traffic to pass, so to speak.
I persisted, thinking someday, I’d master the art – or science – of it. And soon enough, it became almost natural – to observe the mess in the mind from a safe distance, and just be. There wasn’t an instance when the traffic cleared and made navigation easy, at all. Where would I go, anyway, even if it did? There was something so intensely fascinating about the exercise that I didn’t ever want to give it up. I’ve since moved on and revived a more wholesome practice, but the core idea remains intact: don’t try too hard to focus on anything, just focus on whatever is going on, and don’t react. This will lead to calmer demeanor, and an overall sense of control over things that seemed to otherwise slip away.
But of course there’s the all clutter in the physical realm – the woolly shreds of ginger that won’t part from some holes in the grater; lint gathered on those satiny pillow shams; the towering stack of papers that beg to be sorted and yet when they are, the one important document that you need, evades; the bathmat with an awkwardly upturned corner where the threads are hanging loose; the daughter’s room – better known as Frankenstein’s lab, and so many other things that are beyond the grip of lists and their ostensibly OCD-ridden listmaker too, by now.
Somehow, it feels like the clutter that needs clearing and I, are inhabitants of the world of Escher’s Relativity – falling headlong into our disparate wells of gravity at times, and at others, going here, there or nowhere, while pretending to be in charge of our steps. Sometimes, all it takes is a conversation with a friend to help get rid of all kinds of clutter, and sometimes, it’s just as well to take stock of the volcanic proportions of clutter, within and outside, and let it clear of its own accord.
Channeling my inner Erma Bombeck here, but Spring cleaning, if done just right, will kill you. To mounds of clutter then and to all of us, watching them explode into countless forms of otherness. And to words with which to de-clutter the burdens of inertia, self-deprecation and other absurdities that plague the writerly mind.