A PROBABILITY OF WORDS Text Thomas Lloyd Qualls Photo Lynell Garfield
have been guilty of wandering lately. Lost, unable to put the puzzle pieces together, to make coherent the scattered fragments of the world.
There are days when the coffee does not clear our heads, and pretty words cannot soothe our hearts. When our legs are unsteady, our feet untrustworthy, our next breath uncertain. Life, it seems, does not come with any guarantees of fairness. There is no contract with the planet, the universe, or your higher power that mandates things go according to your design. All our collective best hopes, our ideal notions of the way life ought to look, how things ought to be, these things have been getting smashed daily along with our faith in the human race. Still somehow we continue to believe in what is right, decent, just. Until little by little, one at a time, we don’t. I see you. I hear your words. I feel your silence. I understand your rage. And I ask myself what we can do on these days when we need something solid to keep us upright. What do we do when we’ve lost sight of the horizon and the stars, when we need some new tools to chart our course? If you follow this column, you know I don’t pretended to have all the answers. (Most days I can barely articulate the questions.) But I do know this much: The peace of mind we seek, the sense of hope, the path out of the fog, those things do not lie ahead of us in some imagined better future, but right here, in this present moment. Like me, you are probably tired of hearing about the importance of being present, when you are not really even sure what the hell that means. So let me try to serve it up in a more palatable dish. Here's the difficult truth: There is no such thing as tomorrow. For real. The future is imaginary. It is a projection of our minds. When tomorrow arrives, it isn't really tomorrow, but today. And the thing is, it hasn't really arrived from some distant land. It is simply the ongoing right now.
6 Reno Tahoe Tonight
Now I don’t understand how it is exactly that time is an illusion. Except that the masters assure us it is. They tell us that this linear idea of time – the one that almost every last one of us believes in, this image of one second following the next until something like 86,000 of them equal a day – this is really just a human construct we have designed to keep our brains from exploding with the information of how the universe actually works. I know, this sounds like crazy hippy shit. But I'm pretty sure it's not. At least it isn't crazy. And if you stop for just a moment and just let yourself breathe, I think you’ll find it to be true. Once you start to do this on a regular basis, you may agree with the masters that the only way to accomplish anything, including change, is to locate ourselves in the present moment. To find our center and figure out how to stay there, how to operate there, and when we get thrown off, to return there. Again and again. As it turns out, this is also what it takes to write. You have to lose yourself to the outside world, to your notion of time, to your expectations for the future, and just fall into the page. This might be why many of the ancient masters were also poets. This is also why the great master painters made art that is timeless, that is still alive when we look at it today, even though it was painted decades or centuries ago. Plato may have advocated for the philosopher kings, but what we really need are poet kings. Artists. People who walk among us, eat and drink with us, yet see beyond the headlines. To figure out how to locate and keep your center, you must understand: Time begs no forgivenesses, gives no excuses, won't be broken. Though the mystics tell me it bends.* The world is bigger than our ideas of it. We must remember that. We must remember that no matter how unfair, surreal, or heartbreaking our world appears to become, these images are only one part of the story. One chapter, one version, one scene, one sketch, one soon-to-be-discarded draft. We must breathe through it. Holding on to anger and resentment only makes those feelings hang around longer. Let them go. Exhale and make room for the new world.