Riding Metro-North S/N. With Crawford.

Amtrak Cascades train 509 races through Vader, WA.

Miracles.
The Show plays same time daily. Pre-dawn in a tight band around 4:30 am.
Zeke‘s bred to hunt birds. His Dad, to wake free of alarms.
I peek out from under the covers, and voila.
6 hours of intermittent shut-eye, and the florescent digits blaze 4:38 am.
The red spark plugs ignite the engine.
I calculate the odds of catching the 5:01 am.
22 minutes to shower, shave, dress, cover 1/4 mile and buy ticket.
Too tight. Next train: 5:40 am.

*  *   *

I make the 5:40.

I finish skimming the morning e-papers.

I move to Matthew Crawford’s new book: The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.  After an engaging introduction, I catch myself jumping words, then sentences and whole paragraphs. I’m skipping a torrent of multi-syllabic words. I’m not understanding much of it — it’s washing over me like dirty runoff. I’m hoping something sticks. Nothing does.

I look up. I hadn’t noticed that I’m sitting backwards, the landscape is rushing by in reverse. I grab the arm rest. I’m woozy from vertigo and from the beating this book is administering to my ego.  Damn intellectuals running me into the ground.

I cue up AC-DC. I twist in the earbuds, first snug on the right and then the left. I turn the volume up to drown out the Voices, and bathe in Back in Black while flicking through photos on Tumblr.

*   *   *

I’m on the evening commute home.
I rub my eyes, exhausted. They refuse to go down.
I have the Kindle in my hand.
Go ahead. Try it again. Take it slowly this time.
I pause, and reconsider. I put the Kindle away.
I lean my head against the cool window and close my eyes.

This World is Way Beyond My Head.


Afterword:

It’s pre-dawn. The next day. It’s 4:15 am. My eyes are burning but I’m back reading Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. And the question one would ask Self is: Why?

I’m leaping words, sentences and paragraphs and my eyes slow to catch this: 

A toddler begins to walk by learning to exploit the passive dynamics of his own body. Initially his body (which of course is growing and changing) is experienced as a beginner experiences a hockey stick; it is obtrusive and frustrating. The infant learns through exploration “which neural commands bring about which bodily effects,” and with enough practice he becomes “skilled enough to issue those commands without conscious effort.” At that point the child’s body has become transparent in the same sense that a blind man’s probe becomes transparent; it disappears as an object of attention unless something goes wrong with it. In Polanyi’s terms, the child is now attending through his body to the world beyond. He feels a growing mastery. Friedrich Nietzsche said that joy is the feeling of one’s power increasing. This needn’t be understood as the motto of an insatiable tyrant. It captures something important about the role that skill plays in a good life. When we become competent in some skilled action, the very elements of the world that were initially sources of frustration become elements of a self that has expanded, by analogy with the way a toddler expands into his own body and comes to inhabit it comfortably. And this feels good.

~ Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.

“And this feels good.”

It does feel good.


Notes:

Comments

  1. You need some light reading. I know a good author…;-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Irwineyes says:

    Beautiful photograph. The moon looked so wonderful tonight as I was traveling in the rural meadows.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On some level I think our yearning for a deeper understanding of stillness or peace of mind can actually take us away from finding it. It’s within us all. All we need to do is be still, no reading, no background voice or music to connect us. Just our ability to take time away from our busyness into our peace within. Love your writing Dave. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Karen, it’s interesting that I find that is where I end up (be still, quiet) to find peace yet I do not automatically “go there” – my body takes me there. I have yet to learn this lesson that seems to be taught to me over and over again unconsciously. Time to pause, stop, rest, be still when I find I’m entering the frustration zone.

      The other observation, which I’ve just added to the post above in the Afterword Section, is Why? What draws me to come back to Readings that are frustrating. I believe the passage above provides me with a certain measure of understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree it is definitely not an automatic state to go into stillness but it is our natural state.

        “Initially sources of frustration become elements of a self that has expanded” This is so true and what I find is the more time I practice stillness, the more I begin to understand books like Matthew Crawford, Eckhart Tolle etc. Over time my mind and my understanding expands to see the truth and wisdom within these pages. 🙂 And yes that feels good!!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. You know how much I love your writing, DK, and this instance is no different. As for the subject at hand, I, too, struggle with my “monkey mind.” I’ve been trying to still it through yoga, which forces me to slow down, linger in the moment and (try to) clear my mind. It’s harder for me than any three-minute plank. Just sayin’….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m all for expanding my understanding (which is limited) and my vocabulary (also in need of improvement) – and most importantly my existential space in the universe. But I have to be able to read the words and nod ‘yes, yes, yes’ or at least ‘huh, who’d a thought’)… I struggle with it enough…😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. and when a book does this to me, i turn away from it, and accept it’s not a good way for me to spend my time and energy. i call it a truce, not a defeat. a conscious decision, a choice. and then, there is acdc to make everything right again, restore balance.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I think the paradox is that you have to go into your mind to get out of it. Remembering to stop, to be aware, takes thinking. Sometimes I am aware without even realizing it and then I think “I’m present”. Of course, as soon as that thought comes, I’m not. Sigh. As long as you continue to share pieces like this, David, I’m willing to keep working at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I read this, I wonder what I missed in not being a “Commuter”. Would taking the train back and forth each day, eventually mold my personality into something different than what is is today? Just one of those things I think about, but will never know the answer to. Again, classic DK.

    Like

  9. It’s fascinating to me how dogged you are in all your pursuits, that there’s generally a tint of anger mixed with the determination, that beating something (mind, body, subordinates) into submission brings a grudging satisfaction. I love that you share all this with us. I love how real you are.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m smiling. You have succinctly captured it. It is angry. I am trying to bang it into submission to win. And this approach is a losing one. I find that out the hard way after the bangin’. But after the exhaustion, I see the light. Shame that I have to take this path to get there. As always Sandy, your insights are so on point. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Peggy Farrell Schroeder says:

    Good for you, Dave! Every once in awhile it’s good to break the pattern. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Huh? The question here really is Why. I don’t think we need to strive to become even more individualistic in the age of distraction. In my book, we need to find our True Self …peace of mind, and a meaningful connection to each other, nature and Life itself. I don’t think my Kindle would accept a download of this book, ACDC yes. Great writing, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

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