Present

I’m just here to mop the floors.

The world seemingly gets crazier and crazier, though I admit to using “the world” as a lazy phrase. The world is not getting crazier. Human societal complexity is actually the only component of “the world” that is getting crazier, the problem being that our self-created mayhem is now affecting the spaces of true freedom and wildness in unavoidable and potentially irreparable ways. Being humans, however, we view “the world” and our societal complexities as the only component of existence that matters, that has relevance, that is worth considering, when we could do so much to step outside of ourselves and take the lessons of the wild, of animals with egos subdued, of anything that just isn’t ourselves. The problem being that the exaggerated ego within in us demands self-preservation of “the world” around us, of our absurdities, and the rationalization of our ridiculous slow suicides. It’s all we know and all we care to know.

So we end up with representative democracy, industrial capitalism, recycling, factory farm efficiency, presidents and congresspeople, apps, uninvented savior technologies, and a trajectory that is going nowhere good and gives us nothing of valuable experience while we travel towards that nowhere goodness.

For some of us, we have the privilege of residing in the eye of the storm, in a delusional state of comfort, either with the ability to pretend that all is quiet and sunny, or to at least bury our heads in the sand with little fear of negative consequences as the storm comes closer and closer. Where I want to pretend that this head burying mechanism is a disgusting privilege and the exposed necks should be severed post haste, I write this from beneath the sand myself, if only because I recognize both that I CAN bury my head with little consequence and also the storm is coming whether my head is outside or not. We aren’t stopping this.

The greatest human centric delusion is that we think our ability to have agency over personal situations means we can change the direction of the greater storm. We can’t. The chaotic momentum has been built and it will only halt when it is broken upon impact. Our sense of security and safety is the obstacle to be hit.

But this all will pass, in the span of seemingly infinite existence, we are nothing but blood and bone and chance and circumstance. We are just here, weighted with the curse to be conscious of our past and future. And I just want to be present. Truly present. Zen-like present. But maybe a little less selfish than just sticking my head in the sand. I don’t want to give up, I want to let go.

I’m just here to mop the floors. There is something so comforting about having an immediate task, even if that task is dictated by the drudgery of capitalist dictates, to absorb oneself within. To point an immediate focus and consider nothing else – the coming storm, the chaos built prior to the storm, those hiding behind the walls of sand built to protect their disappearing security – and to just mop the floor. For something I once felt such an inherent disgust towards, it’s fascinating to me that I now just want to mop the floors, head down, and with nothing else pressing in upon me. Back and forth. Fill and Rinse. Just mop the floors.

The truck dropped off more garden soil that I had anticipated ordering. The pile sat in front of my house in the street, needing shoveled into the wheelbarrow and then pushed to the back yard where an empty garden plot lay empty except for the borders to contain the soil. The sun was bright, but the February air bit through my gloves as I began shoveling and wheeling. Shoveling and wheeling. Shoveling and wheeling. My mind wandered, but the repetition became almost mechanical and I found myself counting each wheelbarrow full. 1, 2, 3…17, 18, 19, 20. Wheel back and dump. Shovel 1, 2, 3…17, 18, 19, 20. Each barrow filled with 20 scoops then wheeled back again. Hour after hour I shoveled, wheeled, dumped. Repeat. All external thoughts exited and I was left with the simple task of moving the pile of soil to the backyard, with no need to consider issues of “the world”, or debate the abstractions and complexities created around me. Politicians continue to build illusions. Religions extend fabricated ideologies. The very REAL world lay before me. As a pile of soil, the world and the task of moving that world is all that mattered. Bombs fall. Papers are signed. Bullets fly. Seeds grow.

I’m here to mop the floors. I’m here to move the soil.

Each workout starts out with a warmup before the task of building the physical body really sets in. I reset my watch at the bottom of the hill, look towards the top and lean into the first effort, pushing off the ground with muscles tensed but relaxed. Seeking a certain rhythm and strength, the mass of blood and bone and muscle moves forward. Lungs expand against a heart that beats in song. I reach the top and turn to find my way slowly back towards the bottom, giving rejuvenation to all the processes that enabled the first effort to succeed. Thoughts drift on the way down, the ease of the effort letting the abstractions spin and weave and confuse themselves. I reach the start and begin back up, this time with a rhythm enabled by muscle memory and the physical world within me synced to a certain momentum and velocity, powerful and personal. The top meets voluminous breaths and muscles taught. I turn and relax back down, the thoughts coming in, broken again, trying to take me elsewhere when the hill remains static, waiting. I turn back at the bottom and push again, the weight of myself pulling me into the angle of the earth. Lungs contract, legs fight against the gravity, and the mind disappears. Down again. Up again. Down again. Up again. Until presence is the only force that compels me to continue. I’m here to run the miles.

The moments that matter is the moment that exists. Without past and without future, this is how riots are birthed. They are not planned and they are not justified. They just are, as responses to conditions forced upon us. There is no need to debate “the world”, to entertain ourselves with complexities and illusions and absurdities and exaggerations and abstracts. We are the blood and bones of animals, cursed with self-awareness, while harnessed by gravity and the drive to survive come what may. All else is fabricated value systems and attempts to rationalize our discontent.

I just want to be here. Really here. I just want to mop the floors. Move the soil. Run the miles. I want the moments that allow nothing else but the moment, that put me in concert with gravity and grounding. I want the moments devoid of abstractions and distraction, that are nothing more than blood and bone. I want the moments that are so intense, so painful, so joyous that one can’t even consider how intense and painful and joyous they actually are, but are left with only the option to experience them. Sometimes those moments come while merely tending the garden in silence, and sometimes they come when forcing mile repeats into territory of tremendous suffering, of pushing towards a physical edge.

“The world” is elsewhere, as the internet, as religion, as politics, as value, as manifest destinies. The world is here, as experience, as gravity, as the storm, as the riot, as the moment.

For this moment, I’m just here to mop the floors. I’m just here to move the soil. I’m just here to run the miles.

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