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author, A Theory of Everything

Litter or Layers?

By Joanne Hunt

"In my darkest night, when the moon was covered and I roamed through the wreckage, a nimbus-clouded voice directed me: "Live in the layers, not on the litter." Though I lack the art to decipher it, no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes."
Stanley Kunitz

How to get underneath the litter layer? There is so much that floats on the crust of life. So much activity, motion, delusion. So much of who I take myself to be. So much of who I assume others are. And underneath it all, moment by moment, life unfurls whether or not I am paying attention. I focus my days on the distraction level - the level that sits me at my desk with a To Do List as though that is real, pressing and never-ending. When in fact the layers beneath are available at any given moment while I am attending.

There is much stirring in me of late. The nature of reality. The nature of beingness. At the retreat in Taos in early December during our practice interviews, Natalie told me to sit with the question, "What is the ground of being?" through the rest of the silent retreat. The answers emerged but not in ways that I expected or with words that could be expressed. I keep flailing around for the language of that experience. To know that this moment of time is all that there is. To know that this moment arises. Then is gone. A new moment arises. Not related to the previous one except where the interdependent arising seems to look like the last one. A human construction of time as linear. We are not separate from time. It is hard to find words for that realization. What a moment is. Except to come to the awareness that at the ground level, we are time. I slipped a note into Natalie's bowl on Thursday morning of that week, "As writers, we practice to narrow the gap, get closer to looking at the truth of our lives, of life itself: With no gap, we are time." "Yes!" Natalie exclaimed in her note back to me, "and we don't exist separate and there is no time." Truly. For the first time, I really get it. In my senses and not my cognition. In my experience and not my calculations. It was a big week.

And then I come home and get lost in the litter.

One of Jack Kornfield's books is titled, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. It could be called, After the Layers, the Litter. How to not get lost in thinking that the laundry or litter is reality? How to look underneath the litter and know that the layers arising are truth itself? In moments, I remember. And I grin in the knowing that this is true. And still, I end up taking the laundry so seriously. Or whatever form laundry takes in my day. It has millions of forms.

Kunitz says, "no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written." In this moment now, the next words are already written. How liberating that would be as writers if we could truly live that expressed wisdom. Ecstasy is available everywhere.

© Joanne Hunt

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