An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 24, 2017
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD AT DAWN

The same impulse that sets me to examining so closely the natural world around me, sends me looking ever harder at myself. Human animals are natural, too, evolving by the same natural processes as all other living things, and subject to the same natural laws as everything else. And, I'm as good an example of the human element of Nature as anyone.

Among earthly living things we humans are especially interesting because our mentality represents the most sophisticated end-result of eons of Earthly evolution. Therefore, in studying myself, my own thinking and feeling is especially interesting. Here's a report on one of my studies of a corner of my own mentality:

Normally each morning I awaken beneath the mosquito net a little before dawn and lie savoring the moment's peacefulness, until it's light enough to go jogging. Lately I've been focusing more attention to that "glowing presence with undefined borders, suspended in nothingness" that sometimes I sense, feel, or maybe imagine inside myself during meditation. I spoke about it a while back in the "Fabre's The Life of the Spider" essay. The radiant presence being referred to might be cartoonized as something spherical and silvery glowing with light and energy, with no other feature than its solid "is-ness."

So, each morning in pre-dawn quietness I approach my interior glowing presence by shutting out as many thoughts and distractions as possible. When I'm well focused on the presence, it seems to welcome me by drawing me closer. However, even on the quietest mornings it's hard to subdue random thoughts, for the brain spontaneously effervesces all kinds of mental exercises, from rerunning old conversations to imagining adventures a more dynamic me might experience. I'm lucky if I can draw near the interior radiance for more than a few seconds a time.

When morning's first hint of light washes the eastern horizon, the Melodious Blackbird is the first to call with his liquid, playful-seeming what-chew, what-chew?. The song's distraction shatters my reverie, yanking me away from the interior radiance. But, that's OK, because something interesting happens:

During those first moments after leaving the radiance, the Melodious Blackbird's call thrills and evokes empathy in me much more intensely than it ever does in everyday life. It's as if being close to the glowing presence, even for a second or two, supercharges my sensitivities and capacity to feel as nothing else does.

I'm taking this as an indication that I'm on the right track with my studies of myself.

Moreover, this Melodious Blackbird experience has encouraged me to try another experiment: While walking around during the day, I try to summon my interior glowing presence and hold it awhile, wanting to see what it would be like with supercharged senses and feelings while experiencing the everyday world.

Really I can't do it yet but, sometimes, very briefly, I glimpse what it might be like -- to find Melodious-Blackbird delight in everything.