Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Watchers

Mark Nepo is a genius at putting words on paper that succinctly describe a multitude of feelings. He is easily able to describe things and feelings in ways that I feel, but am unable to describe. In his book The Book of Awakenings I am repeatedly awed by his ability to do this.

In his September 3 passage, he speaks of growing up under our parent's and teacher's watchful eye and then going forward in life and feeling as if they might still be watching. By then we have internalized their watchfulness and made it our own. "As I reached adulthood, the habit continued. I walked around constantly troubled by what others must be thinking of what I was or was not doing. In this, we are burdened with the seeds of self consciousness. From this we trouble our spontaneity and the possibility of joy by watching ourselves too closely, nervously unsure if this or that is a mistake."

I loved this passage and it puts words on a feeling that runs in the background and self monitors our actions and words. There is a trade off in that it makes us monitor our behaviour for success and acceptance where we wish it to be. It is only as we grow tired of behaving that we seek to escape 'the watchers' as he calls them. To feel the spontaneity that has succumbed to the need for propriety. As we age and see the world from a different perspective we realize that no one is really watching. Those we thought were watching have their own life tales unfolding. And we also see that if people are watching to judge, it really does not change us or our place in the world.

We need to laugh out loud, dance and sometimes behave outrageously to really feel our freedom from our self-watch. We need to try new things without concern for who is deciding whether we should or should not be doing it. We need to have new experiences without being fearful of making mistakes.

"Now the audience of watchers is gone and I can feel life happen in its quiet, vibrant way without anything interfering. Now, sometimes at night, when the dog is asleep and the owl is beginning to stare into what no one ever sees, I stand on the deck and feel the honey of night fall off the stars, feel it coat the earth, the trees, the minds of children half asleep, feel the stillness evaporate all notions of fame into the unwatched space that waits for light."

His way with words takes my breath away.

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