Despite All My Rage

I read once, I think in a scientific journal, that the ghosts of our ancestors are watching us all the time, even when we poop and have sex. But that they aren’t judging us on the quality of our pooping or sex techniques or anything; those ghosts are so evolved beyond bodies that they are just amused at the demands being corporeal places on us lowly humans. It is like us watching the habits of animals at the zoo, said the scientific journal. I don’t go to the zoo very often, but I watch an animal in my bedroom all the time. This particular animal retreats to her corner to gnaw on cow bones or slurp on her own forepaws for hours at a stretch. Regularly, she will emerge to issue demands that her stuffed yeti be tossed or her belly rubbed. This is an alien creature, I will think, with a correspondingly perplexing worldview. We try to communicate, but as with the ghosts of our ancestors, we are each trapped on our own side of the veil, doing whatever it is we do.

There is a meditation I’ve been doing lately that invites us to imagine that we are not our thoughts and deeds, but the silent space that contains them; that we can observe our thoughts and be the observer and not the thinker. Esoteric, but I thought I understood enough of the gist after a few weeks that I would watch my thinking with a certain detachment. “This is not me, this is just what I am doing right now.” Which in itself is sort of liberating but nothing compared to when I woke up in middle of last night and, accidentally, conjured up the real deal. Was my brain sleep addled? Was it a psychotic break? I felt a tremendous calmness and suddenly had a unique perspective on my life, as if I were a ghost watching from the outside, as if I were a Boston terrier peeking out of a corner at the confounding behavior of her human. I saw that not just my thinking and emotions and actions, but my very perceptions are cage that I habitually navigate, almost blindly, responding to external triggers rather than shaping my own experience. And honestly, even the idea of “external triggers” is ceding too much power, as they are really flare-ups of my own exhausted or insecure or self-centered mind. This seems a bit depressing to type, but honestly, the feeling I had as it was occurring to me was calm, optimistic, liberating.

Today, in the waking world, it was business as usual in my brain, but every once in a while, I did catch a glimpse of the cage of my thinking and, blessedly, the space beyond.

In other news, I am starting to regret not having had any descendants. Who am I going to watch when I am a ghost?

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