Something Bob Dylan once said has haunted me for a long time. It was part of a diatribe and I can quote only the essence, but he said something about modern civilization that has lingered somehow. He said things to the effect* that that we people (at least the ones who are ‘educated’), we live by the week, or by the fortnight. We read ‘Time’ magazine, or something similar and in-between, we just wait for the next issue to arrive by post, or be waiting for us at a news-stand. The events of the world, the moral importance, the wars, the famines, they enter our lives, almost like precise installments. We don’t really feel about any of the things reported. We just know about them. And then go back to our precise, meaningless, feeling-less lives.
I have always been angry at him after that. Angry that he it is possible that he was exaggerating. But it is equally possible that he was not. Or that he wanted us to see something, which we couldn’t. So much of our modern lives is elliptical. And relayed. But of course, there is the analysis.
Of late, my life has been contained between the trains I missed, the taxis I got stuck in and the number of steps I took between my cubicle and the tea-stall, and the magazine issues I have read. Yes, there is conversation. And love. But the way we can access even these basic things is so constrained. Even the sitcoms I watch are neat little episodes packed away for me to see and laugh whenever I want to. I will probably continue to live out these installments, for in life there is no free lunch. Nor would I have been in any way been capable of appreciating the other side.
But there is another side. One that I had almost forgotten. Where, on crossing a few borders, you cross into a place where these seat-belts fall away. Seat-belts like the mobile, the internet, people, concrete, fans; even firm land. Where brambles and thorns cut open the true heart-beat. The heart-beat you share with all things alive. Where you are attuned, resonating to that particular frequency where you can hear the breathing of myths, the drums of old and the sadness of ancient. It did not take much for Man to fall away and just for a moment, never to return; a sense of Gaia. It happened near a beautiful, but this-worldly beach in Goa. And yet, it did not happen here.
I did not just see dolphins. I was them.
*From what I remember of a scene from the documentary ‘No Direction Home’ by Martin Scorsese. The interpretation is purely personal.