A gnu is a wildebeest or Connochaetes and they are ungulates of the African continent. I saw a wild one once, in Kenya, an experience I will never forget and long to repeat. Not actually repeat or recreate, I am not the same person I was then,nor is Kenya. I am not pining for the past, nor am I lost dreaming of a future where I am able to adventure in exotic locales while making a positive difference in other people’s lives. But I do want to again be chased by Zebra’s and see what’s gnu. I am a modern woman, I want “new.”
Wanting something, in this case to see Africa again, and also to see Australia, New Zealand, India, and Antartica for the first time, to accumulate experience, is a form of craving therefore could be the cause of suffering according to the teachings of Buddha.(Christianity has a commandment about coveting what is not one’s own as do most other dharmas and dogmas, I’m just currently enthralled by Buddhism) Also according to Buddha, pain and suffering are an integral part of being alive. I get that, wanting what I do not have can be the source of discomfort. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable.
Discomfort causes movement. Today in my morning meditation, that movement came at about 7 minutes. I took a bit of meditation practice detour and can really tell, in October I could make it to 20 minutes before succumbing to repositioning, some who have trained can make the unimaginable hour(s) of stillness.
Movement of itself is not a bad thing, it just isn’t meditation. In fact moving is a wonderful thing. When I spend a designated portion of my day moving my legs to run or bike or swim my mood improves, I have less general pain, sleep better, concentrate better and generally like life more. Mental movement is necessary for learning, eye movement for reading and my fingers are moving right now to write this blog. Movement to avoid pain is a life saving reflex. Movement is the language of the body, and like words is glorious expression. ” But it comes to a little more, there where it is we do not need the movement, or the words,” to paraphrase Frost.
The New Year is the mischief in me and my challenge to myself and to anyone else listening to find there where it is we need the stillness and the silence. Our culture is enamored with sound and movement and new and more are the drugs we use to avoid the emptiness of our inner worlds. But I can tell you, having been there myself, that the quiet empty of the inner landscape is just as vast and inspiring as the veldt and the gnu. Stillness is the necessary antithesis to movement, and silence can say volumes.
The universe has recently added a unique professional lesson in the value of brevity. Today I had to write and article about an upcoming show at The Phoenix Art Museum about one of the most amazing Green artists currently blending eco dialogue with museum quality exhibitions, one Matthew Moore (www.urbanplough.com), in 200 words or less. This 200 words or less requirement is the same for any non-local art event regardless of its worth and I have been hard pressed to accommodate the minimalist word count, but I just did it, and well I believe. Which doesn’t actually mean it will get printed or published, because newspaper space, like human life, is limited.
And like a human life, the words written in a newspaper only make sense because of the spaces between the marks we know as letters and words.
So today I will move and speak and write, but I will also leave space and silence.
And that is what is gnu with me today.