The Beautiful Dark and Quiet of Nonthought

the harbor's light & anchor~

I have spent the better part of the last year and a half trying not to breathe. When I breathe, things speed up and become chaotic. A certain kind of breath that comes with city living defines oneself as without boundaries, but not fluid, locked in perpetual motion with no intent. Not the sweet bountiful state of impermanence. Escape from the moment is not ecstasy, but distancing from experience.

Direct experience, the full taking in of one’s body, state of the body, breath, heartbeat, temperature of skin, is essential to finding one’s purpose. Purpose not as a goal set and attained, but meaning, depth, breath, life. This is not a holding on to pain or discomfort, or pleasure or comfort, but letting each perfect sensation be felt and experienced with a directness that comes from a place other than the mind. There is the mind and its workings, its clock workings, fascinating nooks and crannies where memories and language and perceptions live—building whole cities and labyrinths, around time and expectations and order. An order that comes from past experiences, the way ordering becomes a way to deal with the past, braiding it into one’s known universe.

The known universe, I have found over the last year, is overrated. The present moment is the most unknown moment. I have loved the times something happened that was unexpected. The emotions associated with certain events, people, objects, one’s home, one’s city, one’s entire realm of experience become stagnated—molded around preconceptions and definitions. This ordering of life seems to help—staving off the inevitable charge of emotion, terror, even, that accompanies change and mystery and the unknown world. When I’ve let the unknown just be, not worked to define it, it becomes known, sweetly, and with kindness. Then another unknown arrives and everything is moving, in constant motion, but natural and pronounced. Described perfectly in nonthought borne of true experience.

I have been learning how to breathe in another way. I have learned how to be with discomfort in another way. How to experience pleasure and joy without thinking. Thinking and breathing are not the same thing but are related in spiral-like beauty. Thinking through one’s breath is a way to slow everything down so there is actual experience. There have been times I have been working so much and so hard and so long that I was actually thinking that breathing would take too long and I couldn’t spare the time. Thinking was overtaking every single minute of my life and I experienced nothing but through the mind. The mind is vast and wonderful and beautiful—words are ornate and intimate and huge—language is blessed and a true creation of the soul—and writing and talking and thinking, when done from a place transcending thought itself and coming from the true mind, are experience itself.

I have thought about how to make meaning out of hardship but this is only part of the story. The rest of the story takes place off the page, off the map, in an indefinable sphere only accessed by nonattachment and noninterference. This is not to say, not to think, not to feel, but the opposite—knowing that each emotion gives way to another emotion, each thought naturally makes room for the next one, all bodily sensations experience themselves simultaneously. My struggles have been that I hold on to the experience of last year or last month, or twenty years ago. I miss all that has happened since then and, most importantly, what is happening right now. To know that I exist and that is it is reality. But when the word “reality” is used, the mind pushes in and defines. Letting go of having to define and coerce experience into a fixed plan is when I have started to truly breathe.

All of this goes into the two most important aspects of my life: love and writing. Both are interchangeable to me, incandescent in the places that I find light. That is, they create the light and also honor the darknesses. The mountains, that is what keeps coming for me. I keep picturing the mountains, with their fog and snow around their peaks. That is the image that can fully express, without thought, what it is to experience. I think of the mountains and I am not thinking. In this same way, I move beyond thought when I write and when I love. There are thought and emotion involved and they become something else, other things, other experiences, other and then the same, all part of a whole, balanced and intricate. It is when I become tied to a particular emotion or thought that nothing moves or moves too fast or it doesn’t feel right.

The staying with and holding steady in whatever is happening in that second is where true reality lives. Lives is the key—the life of love, happiness, letters, words, sentences, color, light, sky, sadness, tables, dishes, doors, refrigerators, tears, crying, glass, someone else’s skin, the swirls of impeccable light, everything lives. Full acceptance is a state of near impossibility. Getting close to it is nirvana. Everything slows down, even in acceleration. Time lives, breathes, remains, leaves, returns. Love is nonthought and the beautiful dark, love is time pronouncing itself in the absinthian nonlanguage of silence that is more full of sound than an orchestra.

Take out the boat, Love is here.

- Arielle Guy