Soul Catch Up & the Sit Spot

It’s been a ridiculously intense week; both here and so tragically around the world. It’s so much so that I’ve lost (or gained) a day already. Yesterday I was confused because I thought it was Tuesday, today I’ve been thinking it must be Wednesday. It was a jolt to the system to realise that the paid working week ends tomorrow and I feel like I’ve really not done any work at all.

Of course it looks like I’m busy and things have been done, hopefully as they should have been. But inside? No, no actual work has been done at all. I realise that I am at that point in my life where my purpose and my work are more and more enmeshed. Maybe that is what they call a vocation. It’s sounds horribly pompous; it’s not meant to. It’s actually more a source of confusion. How can I be so busy doing things that are in the diary, teaching, writing, trying to plan but not actually feeling like it’s work. Work, to me, is that thing you leave when you walk out of the door at that place called work. I suppose it’s partly a by-product of working out on the community, seeing your learners on the street, doing a lot of keyboard-based work after the school run, or before I leave the house in the morning. I suppose it’s because my interest is not confined to a professional one. People, how they tick, how they learn, the stories about their lives… is there anything more engaging? For me, it seems not.

Given that seems now to be the case, it is even more necessary to carve out time where I am not actively thinking which brings me to the title of the post. I was describing my recent experience on a street corner in Chicago, where I had to just sit for over an hour to get my life back together. I was explaining how in that hour, I experienced myself and the world in a very different way. She said that is like the story of the Aboriginal man who, after his first ever trip in a car, got out and sat on the ground. When asked what he was doing, he replied, ‘I am waiting for my soul to catch up.’

Now, after everything I’ve experienced, I get that. And I am sure there are many other people out there who do too. I also now get the idea that the self we create and come to know is deeply rooted in a sense of place. I learned by accident today that there is a name for that: embodied situated cognition. Of course, that is just a fancy name for things indigenous tribes practised long before we came along with our jargon. I know I am not describing anything new or controversial, I am just experiencing something ancient for myself. The sit spot is a place you pick out to go, out in your part of the world, in nature and go to sit and just be every day. Like meditation, or learning, this is not a passive process, or vegging out in the cabbage patch; it is an active intention to get to know every aspect of your sit spot in all the seasons, in all weathers. Which way the sun catches it, depending on the day. Whether lichen grows on the stones and where. The stones themselves, for they all have a name, even if you don’t speak their language. If there is water nearby, the songs it sings, drop by drop. Birds: resident and tourists. Insects, grass, flowers. The trees’ conversation through the leaves or the short snap of brittle branches. All of it and everything, under any circumstances.

The sit spot and the the soul catch up.

Off to find mine…

Detail from Public Park with Weeping Willow, Vincent Van Gogh

Detail from Public Park with Weeping Willow, Vincent Van Gogh

Posted on April 18, 2013, in Art, Biophilia, Spirituality, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Oh lord, that’s it… Made me rejoice, made me weep. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that evade us. I’m still waiting for my soul to catch up (with where I am in all senses and the fact I have two children…). No wonder I crave still time. Let alone trying to reconcile (not that we can) the terror, turbulence and trauma of wider life and world events just in this one week.

    I actually have a sit spot: the garden of rest in the church by the house.

    But perhaps the best is when we find the sit spot in our soul.

    • Well you are ahead of the game there. Still don’t have mine. I used to have one in Clapton – over the bridge where the picnic tables were. Billy and Senna were the kind of dogs you could sit down with; Rudi is not…

      I think you are right about the wider events. Imagine a global sit spot – like Earth hour – the whole world waits for their souls. Could you arrange that?! I think you have the power 🙂

  2. Yes.

    My sit spot is my desk chair turned to look up the valley towards the moor.

    Your piece put me in mind of this (below) which I read yesterday and also like a lot.

    “Before 800 B.C. the thinking on the whole planet, no matter the continent, was invariably tribal, cosmic, mythic, and ritualistic (according to German philosopher Karl Jaspers). Owen Barfield calls it “original participation.” Simply by watching the sky, birds, and trees, the seasons, darkness and light, people knew they belonged. Though we call these people uncivilized people, many conjecture that they might have had healthier psyches than we do because they lived in an inherently enchanted universe where everything belonged, including themselves.”

    • I love the writing, except the first bit jars – not sure how you would know what the thinking on the whole planet was 800 BC… I suppose it’s the written equivalent of a German philosopher’s beach towel thrown over the sun lounger of the ancient world… 🙂

      • Agreed. I nearly edited that bit out but then thought it might be necessary for contextual reasons. He’s a guy who tends to over-write.

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