Light

I am intrigued by Oyvind Torseter’s The Hole, a charming but puzzling book by the same author as “My Father’s Arms are a Boat.”  The Hole gets a good exposition here on Brain Pickings from the prolific and insightful Maria Popova. “My Father’s Arms…” similarly gets  a write up here.

I wonder what the eponymous hole might signify? It could be all sorts of things: the hole could be a gap in the protagonist’s life, such as a separation; it could be a lost or unrequited love; it could be that this is a new symbol for depression. However, a hole is also an opportunity, where the light gets in.

“Beware of practising your piety to be seen,” Jesus warns, and whatever your idea of practice, this seems sensible. So this is a quick disclaimer: my mindfulness is not your mindfulness; this was nothing special except for me – but with a Friday mindfulness session coming back at Harcourt, I thought I’d record the way one night’s sitting session went.

Seven o’clock and on the evening I’m thinking of it’s time for the “unguided” sitting, where we sit and sit and at the end of forty minutes a bell is rung. Tonight there is a hint of a looming thunderstorm: the air is close, and it’s overcast. As we sit the light goes.

What is this metaphor? It goes? It fades? The dark increases? I watched it happen and am at a bit of a loss. The shine disappeared from the wooden floor. Colours muted (another metaphor) rather than deepened, it seemed to me. The gradual loss of light was itself so stunningly beautiful – but where does this come from? Why do I find it beautiful?

[Or maybe even asking these questions are unmindful. The light was what it was. I sat. I felt my breathing, the stiffness in my legs. The sitting was the sitting.]

And the hole? The Leonard Cohen line about the cracks being where the light gets in came to me as I pondered Torseter’s imagery last night. A hole can be a gap. A lack can be a desire to change. The gathering shadows in a mindfulness session can be beautiful. The ambiguity is (can I say it?) illuminating.

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