Can words truly ever describe that feeling? A feeling I know, but I’ve never heard anyone else try to describe its sensory overload. Well not that I remember. Maybe I was blind to their words. Do we all feel it, most conceding the failure, the abject inadequacy of words to convey something simultaneously so real and utterly unreal. Or are we too scared to try to reduce something so precious to words and risk shattering the crystal intensity of the moment.
I tried once to describe it as being as though you’d woken while your soul was still off dancing with the faeries. Your body functions but your mind is in cotton wool, like the analgesic afterglow of codeine. And so you walk and walk and walk until somewhere on your walk your soul finds you. Your skin tingles and everything is ultra real, your senses heightened. You’re still separated from everyone else, you don’t want anyone else to break the magic of the moment. A moment when only you can be so agonisingly aware of the perfect reality of everything around you.
I’m still not sure though that it might not be the opposite to your soul being missing, maybe instead you have too much soul and it dislocates you just out of phase in your time space continuum. Out of phase you are separated and so can see everything. Isolated in an etic un-reality that is the most real, but most external perception. You are totally safe out of phase and so you walk and walk and walk. And you experience the world of the others as if for the first time in the most vivid, exquisite skin tingling intensity.
And you are utterly alone. And that is part of the bliss.
The clarity of your thought and expression is agonising. The silence is tangible, the profound silence within the music of Mozart. But it’s Mozart in your heart strings, a cello vibrating on your skin not your ears.
You want it to stop because you can’t function. You have things to do. Did someone steal your soul? Are you even still alive? But you don’t want it to ever stop because it is so peaceful, safe, so terribly real. It will stop, you cannot hold back the time forever so you revel in it. When you stop being afraid you plunge in. Total immersion.
I said maybe it feels like you woke while your soul was away dancing, but sleep is not all that induces this feeling. Walking on the beach, alone, maybe in the rain, always wind and crashing waves. Walking. Walking. Walking at the interstices. Your soul relaxes, stops trying to hold you together in space and time and convention. Waves pound. Your soul breathes. It flies up up, dancing with the clouds, flowing over the skin of the ocean to roll full of joy in the breaking waves, drenched in spray rising up and up, shaking laughing like a sea sprite. Racing alone along the sparkling silver roads of pure reflected moonlight. Invigorated. Cleansed. The dirt and condemnation and strictures of civilised life are washed away. You flow to your own shape. Exhausted. Refreshed. The salt spray and sweet rain sting your skin. There is utter clarity in your bubble of life, of vibrant livingness that extends to the horizon. And that tremulous hyper sensitivity is safely protected by a force field penetrated only by moon and waves and wind.
Sometimes it happens when I travel. Maybe it’s why I travel alone. I walk. I observe. But I am separate, other, I don’t quite belong. I feel like I see everything, absorb everything, taste the texture of everything. I am in my safe living bubble. Is no one else truly alive? Can no one else see? People are rushing, speaking a language I don’t understand. I have none of their pressures. I’m inside but outside. Some smile at me, I must still be alive, still visible, still real. I speak to buy chai or coffee, eye contact, smile, touch finger tips. But I am different and my difference keeps me separate, safe, aware. And so I walk. And walk Watching. Tasting.
I think Hildegard got it when she described herself as a feather on the breath of God. And John of the Cross, the exquisite joy of relinquishing all else, embracing the empty darkness of night that your soul may bathe in the balm of God. The mysterious power of the empty tomb. Arjuna letting go outcomes and being the arrow he was created to be. The sublime insight of expectations obliterated and release of simply being, flowing into a nothing that is everything. Expectations, desire have no place here. I am simply totally alive.
The woman I’m learning from this week calls it returning to yourself. Some clever men whose work I respect called it liminal, leaving behind familiarity, being open to see the world inverted, and to return changed. That sounds so prosaic, so orderly, I hope they smelt it sparkle.
Author: Wendy's Out of Station
I write as a way of processing and reflecting on experience, and as a way of sharing that experience. When I travel I used to write email journals back to friends, family, anyone who’d read and risk immersing themselves in my reality for a while: writing for them was a way of writing for me. Borrowing from Graham Greene in a flip of Travels with my Aunt, I imagined writing letters to my nieces, as their travelling aunt. Crafting the sentences became a way of extruding the experience, giving it birth, drawing its meaning from my soul, nurturing it into something tangible with a life of its own. The aim of my blog is to open the world to my thought-children, to let them out of the safety of my friends and family and let them experience the world. And in the process I get the honour of taking a larger group with me when I’m wandering around India and beyond, or just reflecting on parallel truths, thinking thoughts that take me to new places new beginnings. Please journey with me View all posts by Wendy's Out of Station