“Writers are the raw nerve of the universe. Our job is to go out and feel things for people, then to come back and tell them how it feels to be alive. Because they are numb. Because we have forgotten. We have forgotten our rituals. Our tribal practices. There is no more tribe. We don’t know how to tell our elders our dreams around the morning fire. There is no morning fire. We can’t receive insight from the mothers.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin
In continuing to unpack the idea of culture, our focus is on Language. My initial goal in writing this remains consistent. It is to begin the conversation, to assist in provoking thoughts around the components that make up culture. Rather than static documents with answers, I want to begin to pose questions. Make statements that probe into challenging regions. Cultivate and tend to the soil that nurtures the planted seeds. Let’s dig in.
Language is essential to the human experience.
Simultaneously an artifact and active ingredient of culture–recorder, transmitter, and producer of cultural narrative–language is at once one of our oldest and most up-to-date technologies. With an adaptability that teaches us much about strategies for survival, it’s comprehension is, for a social creature, one of the cornerstones of anything that might be called thriving. I propose that within our human culture the common language is time. Our language has ingredients of past, present and future tense while mixing in tempo and intensity of spoken words. Unfortunately, time is not sustainable or renewable. Time is our most precious resource. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Time is relentless in its moments and, by God!, we better not miss a moment. Thus, inherently in time, is fear and its constant, methodical reminder of the certainty we have lost and the uncertainty we will certainly move into. So the cycle goes. The past is no longer present. Time and our movements recreating previous familiarity is,
in essence, an illusion. Fear and time are an illusion. The present will never be past. This illusion is perpetuated and reinforced by the language we use. Hold on a second.
Are you willing?
My challenge to you is to unlearn, right now, your preconceptions of what you believe language to be. Slow down. What comes up in response to this challenge? Confusion? Doubt? Can’t find the words for it? In my wakeful nights pondering these ideas, beliefs, and questions, resistance to the idea of letting go often presents itself first. What lies beyond the resistance? Join me in my madness.
If time and our existence is an illusion, then what is real? Nothingness – the emptiness – between moments, this pause is eternity. Alan Watts states, “Nothing is more fertile than emptiness.” A time-out of the illusion. A realm of possibility. A glimpse, a peek in reality. Some call it the liminal space, some call it magic, where the illusion becomes real, and dare I say, some call it God. The space where fate and free-will almost touch. The bridge between past and future. The place between life and rebirth.
How do we co-exist–with reality, with each other, with ourselves–in a seemingly paradoxical nature where that reality is nothingness? Reflection, of how we think and communicate, is a critical first step from which language is irreducible. Willingness to reflect is a key in opening the door of conscious change. The way we speak to ourselves and the words we speak and the information we hear, the language that soaks into our brains, all culminate providing insight into our patterns expanding our ability to apply our agency to change.
Now we can ask, What are the ways in which we can begin to transform our language of time rooted in fear, uncertainty and doubt, into a language rooted in acceptance, connection and clarity? A reasonable attempt may be to morph and adapt our common language into an act of listening – one of expansion – rather than an act of fear – one of stagnation. Easy to forget, I ask you to continue to unlearn your beliefs about language, along with your beliefs about listening. Listening might be the furthest thing from a passive act.
A fully dynamic process, it is quite possibly one of the more difficult actions we do. It is.
Listening is a:
Practice of patience cultivating acceptance
Practice of trust cultivating connection
Practice of presence/mindfulness cultivating clarity
Lastly, I ask you to think about what happens when we use the language of listening within the context of floating and float centers. It begins to transform the way we facilitate floats.
It begins to shift the way we operate our centers. It becomes apparent how much it effects the overall experience.
Thank you for listening.
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1- Madness as defined by Kahlil Gibran in How I Became A Madman.