The Quiet Dark

I spend some of my waking time with my eyes firmly shut.  I find it peaceful, and it allows me to concentrate on what I want to think about with far less distractions from the outside world.

I shut my eyes through a large number of TV commercials, most TV news, and, indeed, a wide range of general programming.  I shut my eyes when I am relaxing outside on the patio, listening to the neighbourhood. I shut my eyes when I am listening to the radio, when I sit at my desk doing nothing in particular, when I am traveling on my usual bus routes. I am not usually asleep (though I guess it is always worth checking), but nearly everyone who sees me in this condition assumes that I am. Usually I am not.

But I can understand this assumption because almost everyone else spends the entirety of their waking lives (other than blinking) with both eyes resolutely open, and for most of you sleep, yoga practice and prayer seem the only reasonable excuses for keeping them closed. Perhaps you all don’t want to miss anything, or are fearful of the dark, or something.

I really enjoy being awake with my eyes shut. External audio — TV, radio, the street — can be trained to be just one of the thought-threads running through your mind.  Shutting the eyes allows one to focus on the available audio or simply to ignore it in favour of your own thoughts. Visual stimuli, with the eyes open on the other hand, seem far more difficult to overcome or channel.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a painter and photographer: I love and often crave visual stimulation. But there are times when I just need to shut it all out  — and closing my eyes is simple, immediate and always available.  I urge you all to give it a serious try.

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