Episode 104 Rocks. What rocks? Rocks rock. And existence of course! Human adventure.
Can I prove this? What evidence do I have to back up this outrageous claim?
Friends visiting, swimming in the morning AND when the sun is high, the doomraft, beach building, old vans, new vans, and sleeping in tents with crickets.
Especially sleeping with crickets. Not sex with crickets, to be clear, because there's a bit of sheer tent screen between me and them. An interspecies prophylactic, yet permeable to pleasure.
Crickets kicked off this podcast two years ago, and deep into the Gentle Release cricket language was understood. Today, they continue to speak of beauty. The beauty that underlies all, the background of beauty, the beauty on which humans build magnificent edifices of drama and struggle, precariously stacked half-baked bricks, creaky struts cantilevered and floating in webs of tensegrity. Even our most elaborate messes are beautiful.
I'm sleeping outside for the duration of the summer, under a wisp of nylon net and an ocean of air, mostly nitrogen with a froth of oxygen. Sixty miles straight up from the tent, the edge of the big empty, space. Outside our atmosphere, take a peek around Earth and there's the sun, making daytime somewhere else. For me, below in NWLP of MI, USA, I see the shine of farther stars, ancient light in my night.
If you haven't carried a 60-pound backpack at least five miles before climbing/collapsing into your tent, the first night of sleeping outside can be a restless one. Even for a lover of outside sleeping like me. The circuitry has to shift.
The mammalian dive reflex doesn't kick in until you get your face wet. Getting your face wet is the trigger for a transformation of human physiology, making us more like dolphins. Able to breath hold for 10 minutes plus and dive hundreds of feet underwater. Or more like what dolphins used to be, before they recommitted to the sea. Dolphin version 1.0.
That's how sleeping outside works, too; there's a process of adaptation. I'm not sure what the science says about why, if there even is any science, but who needs stuffy old science when we've got imagination, which Einstein opined is more important than knowledge. Let's tune in to an Einstein vibe.
A house provides so many layers. Like nesting dolls — in your body in your bed in your room in your house. What are all the layers for? Or maybe a better question is, what do they mean? What feelings have we assigned them? Protection, privacy, clan, having a fixed location, identity?
If a house can provide all that, or at least symbolizes all that, what do we get by letting the layers go?
I've been in my yard for a week now, and here's what I know. Crickets are super loud, but they somehow fit into sleep. I lie down after a busy day of summer vacation and I'm suffused with a feeling of balance and belonging. The shadows of leaves against stars, branches sighing as their trees are breezed. If I am alone, I am not lonely, because I am surrounded by life, by the dark and unfathomable cosmos, by open air and lapping water. A house is mostly man stuff, a wild yard has everything else, everything that we are beyond culture, convention, and the limits of our own self-conception. That's how it feels to let the sleep take me, exposed and vulnerable with only a thin veil of nylon and a flimsy sleeping bag. Practically naked, dreaming.
And the crickets. They chirp together, in waves. Not always perfectly synced, a chorus that drifts into and out of unity. The cognitive effect of the chirp cycle is epic. First chirp is loud, as all the crickets chirp together. The next chirp, the crickets are slightly offset, creating a reverb or echo effect that gives a feeling of vast space, as if suddenly me and the crickets have entered a cavern or cathedral. The next chirp and the timing drifts further; we are taken beyond space entirely and into the vast void, beyond our bodies, resonating with the eternal. The final chirp in the cycle is a kind of punch line, a cacophony of random timings, reminding us we're just lying in a sleeping bag after all, listening to fucking crickets. Then crazily, the cycle repeats with one thunderous unified chirp, and away we go again.
Is imagination illusion or a mode of deeper perception? Fuck if I know. I just like feeling blissy, intrigued, celebratory. Here's the party I'm having today. Chirps are a hint of what we are, the gift from the crickets.
And rocks. When diving for big rocks, I forget I'm even holding my breath, because the rock is everything. I'm not trying to activate the mammalian dive reflex, or wondering what I'll make for dinner. The rippling light underwater, the splash and rumble of the rocks in the rowboat, my body wet and strong is all I know. How about that?
Waking up is the best part of sleeping outside. Day comes up slowly, gently, photons rendezvousing and swarming until light is everywhere. Or maybe we're awake before dawn, luxuriating in the lightening sky, the ultimate privacy of being conscious when few others are. There's a robustness and optimism to resurrecting in the open air, indescribable. "I didn't get eaten by raccoons" — gratitude, maybe. I am alive... again. Hallelujah! Waking up with deep appreciation as my first experience, that's the gist. Why ask why? Can we distill the wilds into a pill, safe and convenient when used as directed? Can we replicate being dehoused with cheap Chinese transistors and petroleum fractions? What's to be gained by identifying or marketing the mechanisms of wonder, when we can just have the experience. Might be easier to expand the wilds. I wonder. Who else wants to wake up wild?