But where do the people walk? Yesterday in the drizzle I stepped carefully on rain-sodden narrow grass verges, recently disturbed by molehills, and wandered at random till I discovered an underbelly of Babylon Town: a deserted park, lakes, managed wild-life habitats, crumbling steps, piazzas and walls of graffiti. The latter provide much-needed decoration in some desolate corners. I was glad to see the evidence of humanity, however scruffy, overlaying the tidy intellect of town planners, however well-meaning. (See post on 28th Feb ’07).
What’s the secret of this joy of walking in landscapes, and observing the crusty lichen and graffiti on weathered walls? It’s a puzzle. I only know that my life is daily more vivid and choiceless and imbued with an odd kind of renunciation. I’m not letting go of the pleasures and pains of the flesh, for death will achieve that, without any striving on my part. I’m renouncing partiality for the sake of the whole. I am renouncing prejudice against myself and others, in order to embrace the whole. (See post on 7th March ’07).
Polyhymnia commented: Thank you for prompting me to ponder the similarities of “crusty lichen and graffiti on weathered walls.”
The human animal is stuck in a cage. Pacing back and forth in this reduced space, he cannot exercise his instincts though he vaguely remembers them and tries to find substitutes within the cage. This is what domesticates him.
Instincts are built in to procure what every animal needs. The bird builds its nest and the bee gathers nectar. Instinct is design. It makes the tree grow tall and the sunflower turn its face to the sun.
Seeing graffiti on a wall, I rejoice in evidence of instinct. Planners and real-estate moguls have seized the right to create an urban environment in their image; the alienated youth, excluded from these activities, defy one-sided laws to make their mark in the only ways they can. (See post on 20th May ’07).
This is where the nobodies, the unemployed and the elderly come on the local bus and potter around for a while. Here the graffiti give the main hope of artistic creativity; here the dropped litter is welcome rebellion from municipal dictatorship. I view the world’s dream and help dream this dream, a mere wayfarer passing through, striding over the earth’s crust like the giants, and indeed the dwarves, of old.
Today, I’ve one more thought to add to those remarks.
Of course, one can feel threatened by graffiti, both aesthetically and in terms of damage to property. But wherever I walk on this earth, I consider it my home. Spiritually I want to embrace it, rather than seek some kind of Buddhist detachment where I turn my senses inward to avoid that which hurts. There are certainly places I wouldn’t want to go. There are times I need to defend myself from perceived threats, by running away or shutting my eyes.
But I’ve learned to love my home neighbourhood, even though it’s far from pretty in many aspects. How else can I feel at home? This is the world. I can’t change it, only add my little voice to its great orchestra.