Feedback • 9 November 2009

Where are the feedback loops? Relationship…. It is all relationship.

The system that talks back to me most isn’t the muscular—that’s stretched and strengthened in to silence for now; and it’s not the bones—those haven’t begun to deteriorate yet. The breath says a lot, as does the attraction/revulsion index; but these days the talkative loop is the immune system. She’s been working full time, doing it on at most six hours’ sleep, asking for little but adequate hydration, daily practice, and please no Halloween candy.

There’s a little bit of static in the air, and when I’m near it, the immune system adjusts without apologies: heart rate elevates, breath moves higher in the chest and thins out, glands in the neck and armpits stiffen. But actually the first thing I notice is a tingling in the tops of the hands and the skin of the forearms: the same molecules that agitate when I’ve spiked the blood sugar. The boundary of the skin where it meets the air becomes wavy, like in teleportation: the message is to become very still until things, as they say, regroup. Owl, you’ve got to get yourself together! I stop everything like an animal in the woods, stay still as long as it takes (usually minutes, sometimes hours), carry on.

This is what seems to help most: awareness of how the immune system feels about its environment, recognition that the air itself is nothing to fear no matter what, acceptance that the system will do the best she can and the rest is for nature to decide.

Still, some epic quiet is nice. You know that radiating thing that plant-green does when you hit it with gold in the afternoon—the way it begins to break up in the light? It is happening in this garden, on a deck, in a small creek-valley, under giant sycamores. Nothing else is moving except for a squirrel way up and my fingertips here on the mac. It’s Ojai, the arid mountain-forest ten miles inside Ventura.

The air is the exact temperature of my skin: closing my eyes, I cannot find the edge between the two. A weekend of this—five hour dinners and ten hour sleeps—and the immune system is stoked for another week.

I wonder: would a life of this make me slothly? Equal peace but half the sleep (and none of the dinner): that’s meditation retreat. Is this retreat quite so feedback-rich as straight sitting… or is at a rest from feedback? It’s a little bit the same.

Anyway. I have been entranced, increasingly, with (or by) the rhythms of having a life. It’s so arbitrary that there should be night and day, fall and winter, cold season, years, breathing patterns that change over the day and over a life, human digestive systems and energy rhythms, eyes that have to blink, growing seasons, mulching seasons, all of it. I think it’s because I’m watching my heartbeat, first responder on the organizational immunity team.  You can’t have (or do) existence on this planet without so much tempo: it’s happening when nothing happens, even. And we build it in to everything we make, language’s songs, the structure of thought and art and commerce, this guest house with its ins and outs and its solid wall of watery glass blocks and curve of its staircase and ceiling. The turn in the freeway that I leaned in to on the way up the mountain, and that will fling me forward on the way down. It’s all a reflection of half-hidden movement that makes all of this exist. I hate to say it because I feel like Alex Grey meets Ram Dass, but it’s how things feel.

I don’t know what the rules are, but the biophysics of being on this planet are what they rae, inside of my organism and out. Maybe this is the system that is talking back to me most. The rhythms of the rock.

The stiller I get the more everything trills and vibrates, stronger like the forcefield of my immunity, faster like the gold off these leaves. It’s a little like guitar feedback, folding itself in to indecipherable white. And beautifully.