Under Milk Wood
I am a terrible blogger by normal standards, (but then, I don’t really subscribe to the notion of “normal”). I never blog regularly, and I always feel guilty that my blog suffers such blatant neglect. This morning however, suppression took a back seat, and I actually awoke with a compulsion to write. For this I am very grateful.
Yesterday, I watched a play by Welsh writer Dylan Thomas – Under Milk Wood. This viewing was an exercise for a local acting group I am part of. I have to admit, I was not very enthused about watching it, as it’s a great fault of mine that I tend to be very impatient with, & even dismissive of things I don’t find myself immediately interested in, or enthralled by. This is not something I would have been drawn to personally, but such is the joy of human interaction. We read & enacted a little of the play at class on Wednesday night, and I really enjoyed the cacophony of sound it produced. I also loved being part of the creative energy in that room. On top of that, I trust the artistic integrity of the person who leads our group, so that was enough for me to explore it for myself.
This play raised a lot of questions for me, mainly: “what on earth is it all about?” I’ve read many times that in order to get the right answers, we must first ask the right questions, and I think this is what I have found today. For some time, I have been practicing the art of living without meaning – that is to say – without trying to make sense of everything, without desperately trying to understand seemingly unexplainable phenomena, without trying to make everything fit into a nice neat little box that satiates my fragile human need to comprehend, thus attaching a false sense of security to my existence. I practice being for the sake of it, while allowing everything to pass through me and wash over me, to swim in the ocean of experience without needing to throttle the water, or pull at the waves – examining each one with great analytical ferocity. My intellect is both my greatest friend and my crucifixion.
Upon this first viewing I did not understand Under Milk Wood. I thought it was rather odd, but also rather beautiful. It confused me, but conveyed a familiar feeling. There I was, facing my greatest challenge – wanting to understand – and the old intellectual violence kicked in. My brain registered syntax error, and my knee-jerk reaction took flight. In more intense moments of incomprehension, I can be found obsessively repeating the phrase: “I don’t understand”, while feeling an immense and consummate frustration. Having seen the impact this has on another, and knowing that the conscious mind uses only 5-10% of the mind’s actual capacity, I can only imagine the beating my psyche takes below the surface during these resistant times. A gift I have in my life today however, is someone who reminds me that this is simply a whirlwind I am caught in. This loving reminder helps me to find my peace, as the realization dawns that I am not the manager of the Universe, panic is unnecessary, and the answer lies simply in the experience itself.
Under Milk Wood brought me many questions, but then it brought me so much more, and quickly… I felt relief as progress most definitely ensued. This strange play – a play for voices – quietened mine, and brought acceptance, allowing, and understanding, not through any intellectual faculty – but in that deeper dwelling place that I know very well and I reside in from time to time when I allow it. Under Milk Wood brought me here. The beautiful & tragic human experience unjustified, invalidated, unashamed. This is where artists speak to each other through the vast realm of time and space.
The other day I was reading about the constant rapid expansion of the Universe. There is much debate among certain scientific circles about whether the Universe is in fact expanding or contracting, but I came across this quote which to me transcended the intellectual discourse: “This is a cosmic symphony. You are really seeing sound, and the sound can help you understand how the instrument was made.”
So then, it is all just music.