Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reconnecting with the Physical Layer

I recently decided to completely change careers. One immediate result of this is the ability to update my blog for the first time in about a year. Another is the opportunity to reconnect with the "physical layer," to borrow a term from telecommunications networking. As I child I was deeply engrossed in exploring the physical world. It didn't seem base or gross to me because it was reality and it was beautiful. All of the concepts and theories known to man are embodied somewhere in the physical layer. So how did I begin to lose touch with it, even becoming hostile to it at some point?

I think it actually started in high school when I took chemistry and physics and intensified in college when calculus was added to the mix. It was in that process that I learned that the "real" reality was invisible to the senses and could only be discovered and mastered through the use of instruments -- especially intellectual instruments such as those mathematics provides. Somehow I began to see the physical world around me as somehow "lower", even illusory. I became enamored of "higher concepts." This probably got worse as I pursued various spiritual paths, because most religions are hostile to some extent towards physical reality. After all, isn't material the opposite of spiritual? Not for Taoists, it turns out. (But that is for another post.)

Another factor was my alcoholism. I began to associate all pain (and boy was there a lot of that) with the "curse of the human body." Even the Tao Te Ching says we should "accept misfortune as we accept our bodies, because all misfortune comes from having a body." I think being addicted to alcohol taught me to fear and resist the bondage to the flesh, and to seek escape through drinking in particular or other forms of pleasure seeking / pain avoidance in general.

Being sober all these years you might think I had gotten past all this and learned to love my physical self in a healthy way. I suppose I have made progress, but I know I have a long way to go. Practicing Tai Chi has been a good step in that direction, and now I am enrolled full-time in a therapeutic massage school, which I believe will really help me overcome a lot. And finally, this new direction in my life, which is centered around healing, spirituality and the art of music, will both require and facilitate a rejoining of my awareness with the beauty of the created world. I love it -- and that which created it.