Monday, November 29, 2021

Life is a verb, not a noun.

 I'm in the process of truly adapting to retirement, for real. 
After I returned from Saskatoon at the end of August, and the workshop card started filling up for the coming year, I started to recognize in myself a feeling of panic. 
It became abundantly clear that something or someone in me reallyreallyreally did not want to teach anymore. Felt horror at the very thought of teaching while the coronavirus is still around, with its sped-up evolution, its bursting forth of creative forms, each potentially more deadlier as a result of faster transmissibility.
No end of the tunnel in sight. 

My panic manifested somato-sensorially as a sinking feeling through the chest, one that felt heavy and simultaneously cold, and spikey, like an anchor. It was close to a feeling of dread.
I have surmounted many moments like that, though, never dropped down dead from them; but this was a bit different. It came over me more suddenly. I was less prepared. I was on automatic pilot but suddenly the plane I piloted was signalling that it was in trouble. Alarms were sounding, lights were flashing. 

In this case, I had no valid argument against quitting. The existence of the virus, my age, and the fact that I really do not need to continue making an income, all converged to argue for quitting. 

Long story short, my inner demands to NOT teach/travel anymore were discomforting enough that I canceled my plans for 4 workshops, all here in Canada. 
Which kind of sucked for everyone involved. 
And I regret having had to ever be a volitional agent of suckage of any sort or to any extent for anyone. 


It felt so final. 
And solemn. 
Like a sacrifice. 
The final decision hurt, and delivering it hurt. I felt like I imagine my dad must have felt, saddled with the the responsibility and no doubt, existential angst, that surrounded his "job" of killing chickens and steers and excess numbers of kittens and chicken-killing skunks and badgers, etc., on the farm I grew up on. I imagine it contributed to his dying on the rather young side of old age, at 77. 

But now, I must digress for awhile. 


Since I retired, I've been watching a lot of Iain McGilchrist videos, and planned to buy his new book.
The actual book. 

Which is 1500 pages long. 

The Matter with Things. 

But another part of me is inhaling the wisdom it contains, just by watching videos, and is arguing against buying the book. 
I'm already pretty convinced about what is in it, so I would just be exercising confirmation bias by owning a copy, and is that any reason for buying the book?
Another part of me argues, life is short and then we die, and I would enjoy reading all his words and ideas and arguments. I have the right to amuse myself, it says.  

Anyway, here is my take so far.
Life is a verb, not a noun.
Two verbs, actually. Because the brain has two sides, two hemispheres. Each one has its own personality, in effect. 
Sometimes these two come into some dissonance. 

The right hemisphere gets that life is a verb, not a noun. But it doesn't talk. 

The left one is very gabby. It loves words. It can talk.
It's like a four-year old though.
Lots of energy but no wisdom.
Lots of content but no container. 
Very pushy. 
Needs a lot of handling and carefully boundaried coaching to get it off all the squares it gets stuck on. 

Now, (bearing in mind that the verbal hemisphere is like the 4-year-old), every time a word is used, it is a "thing." The left hemisphere uses words to describe something that it considers to be a detachable aspect of the world, something specific. It turns the verb of the world and life and consciousness into a bunch of nouns, manipulates them, builds ideas from them, creates structures with them, conquers continents, pretends money is real, grabs as much of it as possible, turns competition into a fun game to be played on top of the bones of everything that is not itself.  Self-flattering, self-aggrandizing monuments to heroic events meant to make the nouns it has created in its own image, permanent. Anything that steals life itself. De-verbs it. Noun-izes it. Thinks it can stop entropy by slowing down life's very creativity, which doesn't work and only accelerates entropy instead.
A perfect example of this is all the plastic the world is currently drowning under. 
The rubbish heaps that poor people all over the world scavenge for bits to reuse or recycle or sell.  Or eat. 
The community in India that lives on top of a below-ground fire that has burned for a century already, and occasionally breaks above ground to consume this house or that one. (These people can't move - there is nowhere else for them to go.)  (

His book is about where, when, and how all this went so very wrong.  All from a very highly educated white Brit male, whose cultural container is the same as that of some of the most virulent colonialism the world ever saw. 
He is trying to undo the worst of the worst, examine and point to the places where wrong choices were made ideationally. Go back to source, and provide a different perspective. Backed by (I don't know) something like 40,000 references. 

He places himself in the middle of it all, able to argue both sides of most dogma and convention.
Not sure how many non-white, non-male voices he has listened to though. 


I like to think that my hemispheres communicate fairly successfully with each other. 
My left hemisphere listens to the feelings in my body that the right hemisphere generates to warn it of things. It responds. It does the job of interacting with the outside world.
It's like an inner marriage I guess. 

For years and years, decades really, my two hemispheres had their relationship worked out just fine. If their relationship was tested by circumstance, they usually worked out what to do in the background somehow, and allowed me to enjoy the illusion of being integrated. 

However these days I can more clearly see the outlines of each of them having their independent thoughts and feelings and motivations. 
They are connected by and through, my body. 

At the same time, I am far less bothered by this now than I might have been earlier in life.
Nowadays I view these two hemispheres of mine who have come so far together as an Amaryllis,  that tall, red, two-headed (or more) flower that blooms around this time of the year,
whose Greek name means "to sparkle."