Letting Go

Words give shape to the ephemeral, ungraspable, reducing it to what I’ve convinced myself I’ve identified it as, its fleeting nature forcefully overruled by the concretizing regime of persistence and persistability.

A bat flies in circles. Or am I presuming a regularity in the partially observed? I saw it over there going that way, and then, a little later, I saw it in roughly the same place again going the same way as before. Surely it hasn’t teleported its way back to where it started?

But I have to admit to myself that, by seeing it as a bat, I insert a pre-existing meaning. I hold the object of my experience captive within myself as a static, staticized, notion despite knowing that it persists through time, not by staying the same, but by being free to deviate from any imposed, imposable, pattern of regularity.

I approached it by forming a view of it that had the property of intelligibility, even predictability. But since its existence doesn’t depend on any particulars of any view I shape of it, it didn’t resist. It didn’t rush to correct my mistake. By succeeding at seeing, I have deprived myself of an encounter with the unknown. I have turned my face away from life and towards an object, a sculpture.

If I never held on to a thought, the only effect it could have would be the trace it left on its own.

Even in these paragraphs, it becomes evident that I have imposed a regularity onto my pattern of producing thoughts. While pondering the nature of the ungraspable, I have betrayed myself by attempting to give shape even to what I have essentialized as shapeless.

Naïvely, I have built a wall around shapelessness even though I knew that it can’t be pointed at without making it disappear. Every time you think you see it, you don’t. What I tried to prevent from escaping was already not there.

I have built a monument to my stupidity. Defeated, I shall engrave it with my name to remind myself who it was that fell for their own insight, that followed their tendency to give shape to things and ended up only giving shape to the giving of shape itself — a self-referential image of the failure to exceed a way of being through itself.

“Enough. Tear it down. Tear it down. Tear it down.”

But in that moment, I catch myself holding on to a fixed idea again. Like a spider that caught something in its web, I have caught my own failing to stop being a spider — a self-defeating catch. By destroying the monument, the piece of evidence of my continued failing, I wouldn’t really free myself, or anyone. But now it seems that the idea of moving past it may have become my next meal.

I need to practice letting go.

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