Yesterday I heard an interview with writer and yoga teacher Matthew Sanford on NPR’s Speaking of Faith. Amazing, gifted person whose body was disabled after a car accident at the age of 13. Check out the following, which is an excerpt he read from his recent memoir Waking:
Imagine walking from a well-lit room into a dark one. Imagine the darkness as a visual expression of silence. My rehabilitation made a mistake with the silence by focusing on the absence of light. It too quickly accepted the loss and taught me to willfully strike out against the darkness. It told me to move faster rather than slower, push harder rather than softer. It guided me to compensate for what I could not see.
Another course of action, however, is patience. Stop moving, wait for the eyes to adjust, allow for stillness and then see what’s possible. Although full-fledged vision does not return, usually there is enough light to find one’s way across the room. After a while, the moon may come out, sounds might gain texture, the world might reveal itself once again, only darker.
The darkness of certain physical views like quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle is dramatic. Its experts have all had metaphysical rehab! Media, art and literature accept their rehabilitated opinions, which morph into cultural messages full of positive spins – and, to certain ears, irony. Quantum leap over your limitations… uncertainty makes the universe exciting, or… in an alternate universe you may be experiencing bliss! After my brother parted ways with the physics community he regularly lamented this.
I would take it one step further now. Should theorists lose track of one basic principle – that physical theories must connect to physical reality – what would keep the problem from spiraling into a new type of darkness, one of human making?
[I am aware I keep mixing two notions of darkness / nothingness that are quite distinct. See my Philosophy Disclaimer.]
Matthew Sanford says something similar happens to the disabled all the time. They accept their fate as being cut off from their physical bodies rather than of needing to become more finely attuned to it and accepting of its subtleties. First and foremost being as whole as possible should be more important that being “a fighter,” or in the case of physicists avoiding metaphysical crises, of being a pedant? (That was John’s favorite insult to hurl at career physicists.)
Matthew Sanford, in reconnecting his mind and emotions with his disabled body, says he identified a common source of physical limitation in the world. Without knowing it even able-bodied people disable themselves in small ways over a lifetime through closing down physical communication with the parts of themselves that hurt. People’s focus is too often on accepting immediate relief through physical silence (a darkness of human making?). He says instead we should focus on being patient with our existing capacity, however limited, and re-connecting with the energy and physical processes that built us in the first place.
Maybe I should rename this weblog Metaphysical Yoga.