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Blog

What To Do

Tom Sturch

1 Sturch Photo there is a place in the heart that / will never be filled / a space / and even during the / best moments / and / the greatest times / we will know it … –Charles Bukowski

There is a problem with the present moment. We all feel it, right? Something a little off? Let's look at it objectively. Let's hold it in our hands and gaz... oops. Did it slip away from you? Were you momentarily distracted? Did the weight of yesterday's to do list or the drift of waiting for your ship to come in throw you off balance? Cause you to shift your attention?

Maybe it will help if we hold the moment in some context. Consider Heraclitus' approach (in fragment 12) that the world is being rent apart and held together in the same instant. The implications are that by the time you read this next word your position in the universe will have spun, spiraled, and expanded on space-time in ways that make a sci-fi CG fabrication droll.

Consider in that little bit of time, your body (its own material the stuff of spent stars) has spawned and died, divided and specialized, coursed and throbbed under a force of life so ephemeral you only just intuit it before we're thrust in its power and desires like sudden rockets leaving parts of you stranded in an irretrievable past. And along with that moment that just got away, many more have streamed right behind it like a sea of lemmings into an empty abyss, carrying your short life with them.

Now, where were we? Oh! We're right where we left off!

Perhaps it is the product of logos (Heraclitus' word for the thing that holds it all together) to make pleasantly unfamiliar cloth of the too familiar unraveling thrum of creation. Perhaps he was bringing attention to the remarkable fact that things cast in so fierce a motion as ought to be flying apart, are not. Rather, they are secure. And, that the thin moment that seems abysmal and fleeting is the very moment we might realize that we are the stream aware, at once there and liminal, fresh and flowing, familiar and ever new in a miraculous cleaving of all things.

In music, the space where no sound is played is a called a rest. Rests fill space in the measure and are actually played. John Cage argues this point in absurdum in his composition 4'33” in which he plays four and a half minutes of rest. Another point he makes here is how hard it is for us to be quiet for even five minutes. How silence makes us uncomfortable and anxious, and how woefully unfamiliar we are with peace.

Bukowski makes no value judgments about the place in the heart. We think at first that the emptiness must be a bad thing, that the silence must be filled. But perhaps it's the place all things hold together.