October 4th, 2007
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getting lost


life is so exciting when you discover new thread that is running through everything, so that you begin to see it everywhere you look.
and when the theme comes out of the book you are writing and jumps out and grabs you by the throat, and then lulls you into a kind of exploring, pulling place. as like when you are wandering but you don’t exactly know where you are headed but you have this feeling that there is something around the corner that is really big and important. something you might like to share with the world except you don’t exactly know what it is.
or maybe you just want to share with people the beauty of the unknown. this is the theme that runs through me these days. though I only discovered it recently. this thing that makes living worthwhile.
the not knowing how anything is going to turn out.
the not knowing what is around the next corner. I read in an article from the 60′s that the reason that people enjoy live performance is that it is something that can never happen twice. Each performance lives in the tension of ‘not knowing’ how this moment will go. the same could be said for a painting. nothing happens the same way twice. each time you do it there are subtle differences. humans are imperfect and prone to variation, unlike machines. and deep down we love this about ourselves and crave more of it.
Corita Kent wrote, “The thing about art that delights us and confounds us is that it never happens again…Uniqueness confounds us because there are no rules for guides. There can be no science of the particular.”
nature is also prone to this variation. this is what makes collecting leaves and stones and twigs so endlessly fascinating. the variations become more obvious the closer you look, something that looked simple at first becomes intricate and more detailed upon further investigation.
we have to at some point live with the idea that we cannot know. I was overjoyed to discover a new book on this theme by Rebecca Solnit, which I am savouring like a good wine (which I cannot have right now). The title is “A Field Guide to Getting Lost”, and she deals with getting lost in a literal sense (in the woods), and also a metaphorical one, lost in one’s head, or lost in the sense that one surrenders to the present moment and whatever that brings. She describes the unknown as a transformative place through which growth emerges. But we can’t know what that entails when we enter into it. a conundrum of sorts, yes?
“How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that here are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life most requires of us.”
It is not a coincidence perhaps that I am contemplating the unknown at this point in my life. Pregnancy (and birthing) are a direct trip into the unforeseen, so much so that you are given time (9 months) to contemplate the fact that you have no idea what you life will be like in the near future, but you are very aware that it is about to change in a big way. It feels comforting to know that it is really out of your control, I am reminded of this every time the baby moves in my belly, that something much bigger than me is occuring and I am just along for the ride.
i have become aware that if any real discoveries are to be made i can only find them by entering into this unknown place. otherwise I am just repeating what I have learned in the past, which doesn’t involve any risk. the unknown is not always comfortable.
but it’s not always about comfort.
The closer man gets to the unknown, the more inventive he becomes.”
~Buckminster Fuller

 
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