The big sleep

“On the temple bell
Perching, sleeps
The butterfly, oh.”*
(Buson)

‘Environmentalists are always arguing that those butterflies, those grasslands, those watershed woodlands, have an utterly necessary function in the grand scheme of things, even if they don’t produce a market crop.  The same is true of meadowlands of imagination; time spent there is not work time, yet without that time the mind becomes sterile, dull, domesticated.’**
(Rebecca Solnit)

How about some marauding?

Or perhaps that ought to be amaurauding – apparently marauding means to “go about in search of things to steal or people to attack.”  We can maraud for other things, though.  Harry Potter’s Marauders’ Map allowed him to see both where he might go and others were.  As Fred and George Weasley explain, in order to open the map Harry would have to say, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” and to close it “Mischief managed.”

The kind of marauding I have in mind flips no good into goodness and kindness.  I borrow this thought from Brian McLaren who describes our mission, ‘should you choose to accept it,’ as being ‘to plot goodness and foment kindness wherever you may be.’^  This can be very mischievous work.

Marauders don’t conform.  Awakened from her previous sleep state, she realises that she has just escaped a slumber that was growing deeper and deeper, and she has no desire to go back to this.  Erich Fromm writes on how we can be so unaware:

‘Most people are not even aware of their need to conform.  They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their opinions are the same as those of the majority.’^^

Hugh Macleod reminds me why I’ve been so encouraged and enabled by him since discovering his doodling and thinking.  He writes about the wee voice that will not go to sleep:

‘Your wee voice doesn’t want you to sell something.  Your wee voice wants you to make something. […] Go ahead and make something.  Make something really special.  Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.’*^

At first we may have no idea what the wee voice wants, only that it isn’t going to ask us to conform in any kind of sleep state life – that’s why it won’t be quiet:

‘Your wee voice came back because your soul somehow depends on it.  There’s something you haven’t said, something you haven’t done, some light that needs to be switched on, and it needs to be taken care of.  Now.”*^

The marauder has awakened and won’t again be seduced by sleep again.  Marauding is about movement and marauders keep moving – some of the concerns about modern life have to be the possibilities of sleepwalking into a life lacking movement and contact with others.  A San Francisco Chronicle article, presumably from the end of the last century, wonders:

“We’ve all heard of that future, and it sounds pretty lonely.  In the next century, the line of thinking goes, everyone will work at home, shop at home and communicate with their friends through videophones and e-mail.  It’s as if science and culture have progressed for one purpose only: to keep us from ever getting out of our pyjamas.”**

Rebecca Solnit, whose words lead us into today’s post and who also quotes the piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, connects wandering in thought with wandering through space: we need to move through the meadowlands of imagination to stay awake.

Technology blurs lines: is it a phone, is it a TV, is it a computer, is it a watch, is it a newspaper or book?  Is that idea ours or did it come from someone else?  Am I conforming or bucking the trend?  Yet there is the wee voice, the whisper from deep within that won’t be quieted.  Maybe it is asking three things of us:

Am I living as freely as I am able to?
Am I living imaginatively and creatively?

Am I living for a greater purpose than myself?

If yes, then you are a marauder.  If no, then time to wake up and get to some maraudering.

(*Buson, quoted in Kosuke Koyama’s Three Mile an Hour God.)
(**From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)
(^From Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking.)
(^^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(*^From gapingvoid’s How to be creative.)

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