Sunday, October 2, 2011

The act of doing.

We often hear that our body is a temple for our mind. We think therefore we are. Our brain is nurtured by the muscles, bones and blood that encase it. But what of the act of doing?
We train our body to act for us. We teach it to walk and talk, to reach and balance, ride and swim, climb and fall, then rise again. We take pride in our appearance, even naked, so that it may do our beckoning. We test ourselves mentally by carrying out acts of endurance and strength with our body. We fight and resist gravity as if it is the enemy. We set ourselves against nature at every turn. Today we climb a mountain or swim an ocean, tomorrow we will find another way to act out our thoughts, to move in unison with our emotions, to perform some seemingly impossible task to accomplish....... what?
This passion for performance is a religion for us all. Even the very act of praying to our gods has the pre-emptive of motionless thinking. We wave our arms when we talk, we flutter our eyes when we listen, we shake when we greet and we nod when we agree. The compulsion to move is irresistible. We see movement as life-giving and proof of life. We travel great distances in the hope that it will ‘clear the mind’ or build on it. Even when we are asleep we wrestle with our thoughts and dream of distant places for which we crave to attend while thrashing about in the sheets and pounding our pillow.
We cannot be still. Even when we think we are, the endless and monotonous pounding of our heart and the persistent peristalsis of our intestines keeps us in a nether world of oscillations and pendulous persuasion. There is no escape.
There is the very real possibility that we have it all wrong, this concept we call ‘life’. Maybe it’s not about us, the thinking, knowing, intelligent person we assume we are. Maybe it’s about the rest, the body in motion, the actions, and the act of doing. It seems quite plausible that all that stuff about evolution and human development isn’t about the cerebrum but the motion we put in place as a result of it. It’s all there to keep the cerebellum going. The body is the ‘god’ and the brain is the mere capsule of connections that keeps it going. We are because we move. We think so we can move. The act of ‘action’ is proof of life.
And how do I know this? Because I surf.
At the end of any single day you will find me, in my current form or that of another, walking towards the point on any coastline where the break wraps itself around the reef and spreads gently along the shore. As the last light reflects from glassy water and the first phosphor appears at my feet I will worship my gods and thank them for my ability to move. As I push my way through the surge and take the third of the next set there will be nothing left but the coordinated action of muscle and bone, blood and guts and a mind as clear and complete as a well spend battery, satisfied that there is nothing more to what I think than getting me to the next wave.

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