May 26 • 15M

assemble the world

I find that fascinating . . .

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So, as it turns out, we can’t experience the world at all. All we know of it is what our brain assembles out of the nuanced cacophony of electrical impulses surging along our optic nerve, thru our auditory nerve, and all the other nerves from their attendant stations on the periphery of our body. They relate to something, yes, but they make no sense until our brain paints a picture with them, creates a world that is recognizable and sane. It does the same in our sleep; it’s called dreaming.

I find this fascinating. We assemble the world inside our brain according to what we’ve been programmed to perceive. That’s why adults are so eager to tell their tiny tots: this is a tree, this is an ant, this is your aunt, this is an airplane, this is asparagus. They dutifully believe everything, eager to participate in whatever illusion the adults around them are experiencing so they can be a member of whatever club it is that everybody else is a member of.

What the world actually is we’ll never know. It’s God. Let’s say it’s God and of course you can never touch the face of God. Not while in this mortal coil.

Mortal coil. I like that. I don’t know what it means. I imagine a snake coiled and ready to strike. A mortal blow. Inject some poison into its victim. Or maybe it’s a talking snake like in Adam and Eve.

Isn’t it fascinating that Islam and Christianity are both Abrahamic religions, they both claim Abraham as a prophet and Jesus too (well in Christianity he’s called the Son of God) but they fight with each other tooth and nail as if they were enemies.

I wonder what religion Abraham was before he discovered Yahweh (or Yahweh discovered him). It doesn’t say but he was definitely a renegade, a dropout from the old Fertile Crescent religion of his father. In the Jewish tradition (another Abrahamic religion) he breaks all the idols in his father’s house back in old Ur (of Mesopotamia) and hikes out with his posse and his goats and his cows and his camels for the frontier (Canaan). There he has his visions and makes his covenant with Yahweh and commences the great tradition. Deeply fascinating to me.

How is it that smelling a rose or any other fragrant flower excludes all negative thoughts from the mind. The fragrance of that flower affects the olfactory bulb in our forebrain just behind the nasal cavity which then transmits signals to the olfactory cortex in our cerebrum where it’s processed and then to the limbic system deep inside our brain where it connects to more brain stuff and we ‘smell’. We experience the fragrance of a rose somehow and the whole of our mind is redeemed. I have repeated this experiment many times. It’s strange but true.

An acacia tree or huisache blooming near the river, sending out it’s magnificent fragrance in the spring.

For a two year old everything is fascinating: ants crawling thru the grass, over sticks, feeling each other with their antennae. For a one year old everything is magical: a leaf falling from a tree, swirling down to touch the ground. For a newborn everything is a torrent of colors and sounds that probably don’t make any sense at all.

The world is full of wonders and surprises I guess is the theme of this newsletter.

Yesterday while riding thru Brackenridge Park I saw goats, a whole bunch of them. They were inside an electric fence being watched over by Carolyn and Kyle Carr.

Caroly Carr and her goats.

Their company is called ‘Rent a Ruminant Texas’ and they had brought their herd of 150 goats from their ranch in Brownwood Texas to munch on the understory in the park. They can eat the shrubs and leaves up to 6 feet high in places where it’s not practical to use machines to clear the brush. They have four hoof drive so they can go up and down steep inclines and over fallen trees. Plus they’re fun to look at. Carolyn and Kyle have names for every each and every one of them and when they get too old to browse, they retire them to the old goats home.

While I was there most of them were in repose, quietly chewing their cud like a herd of contented . . . goats. Amazing.

That’s when the epiphany of the day happened. Actually it circled back around from the morning when it first occurred to me. If you can enjoy yourself, capital S Self, you can enjoy everything and anything. I find that endlessly fascinating.

I also met Pat while I was there. She was walking her dog thru the park and we started up a conversation. She grew up in the Mahnke Park area nearby and started telling me stories from her childhood. Like the one where her brothers told her and her sister that they had found a treasure chest up on top of the hill where the old reservoir used to be. They made a map for them and everything so they could find it.

And they searched for it and did find it. It was actually an old toolbox filled with paste jewelry from gum ball machines and glass beads and such but to her and her 4 year old sister they were real pearls and diamonds.

So they took them to the Witte Museum on the other side of Broadway (both places, the reservoir and the museum, being strictly forbidden by their parents) and showed them to the curator. He encouraged their fantasy while at the same time eliciting their phone number and calling their parents so they could come and pick them up.

Pat was not much older than her sister so the thrill of finding a treasure chest full of jewels was fully embraced by their innocent and naive young minds. Life is a beautiful thing.

Later, on my bike ride, I encountered a group of Native Americans led by a powerful shaman parading down Houston Street. They turned right on Presa and crossed over the Riverwalk bridge.

At Travis Park I ran across kids spilling out of a plastic playhouse, one by one, like pop tarts out of a toaster.

The world is full of wonder and surprises.

The old shaman don Juan used to walk out into the Sonoran desert with his student Carlos Castaneda and have the most incredible adventures imaginable while trying to teach him how to ‘stop the world’.

In a place that most people would think is empty and relatively lifeless, somehow there would arise mysterious powers and visions which Castaneda would report in his books.

I found those stories utterly fascinating when I was a young man of 20 searching for truth in the wide world. I knew it must exist somewhere in some way because if not then the search for it would be absurd and so would be the entire universe.

On my home from the park I got slammed by a careless bicyclist coming around a blind corner. Dropped me right in the street; sprained knee and broken phone. I’d been having a premonition all day that something was going to happen. Don’t know how that works. Knees mend and phones are replaced and I am alive is my takeaway. And my brain is intact, I can still assemble my world. Or stop my world. Which is it then? Both?

Anyways a new phone will be here in a few days. I can take pictures again. I can roam around town on my bicycle and record voice memos of the voices in my head. What I heard.

Entertain the muse and the muse will entertain you’ is what I told the lady at the book fair at Central Library a few days ago and that is certainly true. It’s fascinating.

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