After a busy week of work that turns into an exciting motorbike ride, Street Wisdom facilitator Chris Sollett finds himself using the meditative Street Wisdom practice to help him with his sleeplessness.
I’m sleep deprived. I’ve been busy working – and I did a good job last week, working with good people. The team around me, and also the clients – smart, interesting, funny people. People with integrity. You might make assumptions about oil companies, you might assume they’re bad people who like doing bad things. I didn’t find that to be true. The people who invented engines – they rode horses every day. Thomas Edison and Lewis Howard Latimer also worked by candlelight, until they had perfected the lightbulb. You have to work with what you’ve got while you’re developing the next thing. We’re not there yet, with clean energy – we can’t stop using gas and oil completely – not yet.
Anyway I digress. I’m sleep deprived. It’s 06:00 and sleep largely eluded me last night. I’m staying in a beautiful place, at a Parador in Sos del Rey CatóIico, in Aragón, northen Spain. My friend Bruce and I are riding motorbikes and making each other laugh. Boys will be Boys. (That’s no excuse – but let’s not throw the boys out with the bathwater.) Bruce is snoring gently, and I decide to leave the room, if I start writing I’ll wake him up. So what shall I do? The hotel is quiet, it’s like I have the place to myself.
I know! – I’ll do some street wisdom. This hotel is a beautiful place, old, old stone and wood, hundreds of yards of corridors, cafes, terraces, bathrooms, kitchens. What better place?
Be drawn to what attracts you – and notice what doesn’t
I wander the lengths of the corridors, imagining myself as a ghost, no one can see me (this game is much easier to play when you have the place to yourself) and I wonder – if I die now, is this where my spirit will wander? How does that stuff get decided? I make my way down, floor by floor, gliding silently along patterned carpets, imagining the innocents (and the not so innocents) sleeping (or not) behind their doors.
I make my way, silently, down to the 4th floor, where there’s a café. (I’m drawn to cafés) unfortunately it’s closed. Fortunately, there’s a library room next to it. It feels like it ought to be a library, anyway. A few thousand books would really hold this room together. I’m drawn to dark wooden pillars, the terracotta stone, the natural cotton sofas and brown leather armchairs. I’m drawn to sit in the corner, back to the wall, observing the entrances. I’m drawn to sit at a desk, lay down my computer, my notebook, just like a real writer. Anyone watching me would probably think I am one. Ha!
Slow right down
I walk, as slowly as I can, to the bathrooms just outside. I need a bio break. Walking, breathing, thinking slowly is so much easier when there’s no around. Although, one thing I have noticed, after some years as a street wisdom practitioner – people don’t notice you nearly as much as you think they do. You can dial up your inconspicuousness (if that’s actually a word) and it feels good. If you can’t be invisible, then at least you can be inconspicuous. I recommend it.
In the bathroom, I try to wash my hands and face slowly. As slowly as ever I can. But – the water won’t play along really. It will pool slowly, but it will not be splashed slowly. Never mind.
See the beauty in everything
This is all too easy today. For one thing, I’ve fallen in love with the world again. The last few months have been… busy, some shadows, some doubts, some dark thoughts. Fuckers. But you know, like Winston said – ‘when you’re going through hell – just keep going’ And I think, he actually knew something about that. But today, I’m in love with the world again. I’ve finished a job, I’ve got 3 days off, I’m with my best friend and we’re both riding moto guzzis.
The beauty is hard to avoid, actually. The library is a pretty perfect place (apart from the lack of books – but that would be an easy fix.) There are paintings, soft glow from table lamps, comfortable furniture, walls clad in hessian writing desks covered with chintz. I try to find the beauty in the fire alarm diagram, and of course, that’s there too. We’re on a roll.
I don’t have a question in mind. I have to retrofit it. How to use Street Wisdom as a meditative tool when you can’t sleep. Get out of bed, wander around, follow steps 1, 2 and 3. See where it takes you.
Now – check my privilege. I’m in a nice hotel. I can do this here, no one can really stop me. That’s the great thing about 5 star hotels, you can imagine, for a while at least, that you’re important. That’s probably why people come.
It’s getting light out now. The magic moments are leaving me, gradually but gently. Back there, just for a while, I’d started to grasp the idea of Time as an ocean. I’m not clever enough to present the argument – but it can be made, by people cleverer than me – that actually, everything is happening all at once. Past, present, future – it’s all going on. But we’re all in different layers, like layers of photoshop, and we can only interact with our own layers. But it’s all going on. Wandering around the corridors of this building, are all those other people who came before and will come in the future. Everything is behind me and in front of me. They’re all going about their business, right here. I’m really getting a sense of that.
Like I say. I’m sleep deprived and I should get some shut-eye.
Then again – you can sleep when you’re dead.
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