A wise old man once gave me two life-saving pieces of advice: “Stuart, wherever you go, there you are.” And, “If you ever need a new perspective on something, lie down on the floor.” It totally works.
Not only does going horizontal help show things in a new way, it’s a good stretch. And maybe the kids will love you more because for a moment when they walk into the room they will think that you’re dead. And then they’ll be that glad you’re not. Sorry, Jasper. Or if they don’t, that too will provide some valuable insights.
There’s also a great submission in lying down. Think about it: There are whole spaces of our lives where we think things are a certain way just because our eyes are a certain distance from the floor. Like the senses themselves, we accept things are the way they are because of the construction that provides the input. You and I may not be able to agree on how to define the colour “blue” but I can tell how disciplined you are with your kids by checking out the underside of your kitchen table.
To take this a step further, imagine how much better we’d know places if we didn’t just observe them from our cars. Sometimes I like to think I have a certain kinship with Pierre Trudeau because I drive a couple of times a year between Ottawa and Montreal along the 30′ wide space on the highway in a narrow physical band of space/time within which both of our bodies have certainly passed. Our roads are like fibre optic cables. We’re on the way somewhere. I’m often tempted but have never pulled over and randomly stepped into the corn fields past Casselman before the Rigaud bump. And I’m pretty sure PET didn’t either. Think of how the world might be different if people started suddenly doing things that were one slight step outside their normal pattern, their “natural” path. Do you drive the same way to work every day? Always eat the same food? Be honest: Isn’t Missionary getting a little tired?
At one of the lowest points of my childhood I was surrounded by really unhappy people. One day it occurred to me that a few of these lost souls could transform their lives by walking barefoot in the wet grass between the car and the house. Yet, every time, they always, always waited for the rain to abate and dashed hurriedly along the square paving stones. Joy was that close. The sensual delight of wet feet.
This is another reason I love Walden Cabin. The first thing Jasper, Simon and I do after we drive up that narrow winding drive to the cabin for the first time each summer is pee outside. This is not ceremony, just habit. We’re home. We’re comfortable. We’re off the path.
The last two weeks has been a relatively dark time, again, and what has kept me going is this simple perspective. No matter how bleak my mind gets, all I have to do to reconnect with joy is peel off my socks, or stare into the flickering embers of a wood fire, listen closely for the creak of ice in the trees, or lie spread eagle on my back on the floor of my kitchen.
And, bonus! There’s a gummy bear under my fridge, and I’m gonna eat it.