We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Every evening when the sun sets, the rust brick of the roof outside my window changes from dull flat dust to a bright living glow. What is that called? Is there a name for that particular reflected light on stone and slate and brick that turns the inanimate world to life? Turner believed that light was the emanation of God’s spirit and in his later years his work focused almost exclusively on the effects of light. On his deathbed they say he uttered the words, “The sun is God.” My father painted this light. I love this light. In a country like England, this light is not a sure thing. Summer days have faded and autumn will sweep by soon. So my eyes drink deeply when the light is here.
In between hospital visits, my room is a mess. A mess of Things. Papers, books, shoes, postcards, medicines, a guitar, hot water bottles, promises, letters, presents. I receive many presents! It is not always this way - but creative energy is like a small undefined tornado. Sometimes I make this body, this room, the gentlest of hermitages; peace and wisdom radiate neatly from the correct feng shui corners. At other times, some whirling daemon is at play and when the damage is done, I wish I could sleep on the ceiling - the tidiest space in the room.
I wish I could borrow another body for a while. One that escapes infections and antibodies and cataracts and steers effectively around the petty weaknesses of physical frailty. A body that thinks a thing and it is done. A body touched by the light that makes stones glow.
I attended a wedding on my birthday two weeks ago. It was in Nottingham at the University, where just a few days earlier, Thich Nhat Hanh had walked and smiled with the monks and nuns of the engaged Buddhism order. I missed the retreat but my feet did not. If I am touching the same earth as others who do wondrous things, like giving birth and teaching freedom, does their magic enter me too? I like to think so. I have to think so.
It is the only way I can survive.
first painting: JMW Turner's 'Sunrise with Sea Monsters';
second painting: W Blake's 'Pegasus'