Anybody who travels knows that you're not really doing so in order to move around - you're traveling in order to be moved. And really what you're seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you're sleepwalking through your daily life.
Maybe I'll have a tumour like his someday. At first it will be a small but growing sphere that will branch out, growing larger in my stomach like a fetus. I will probably feel it when it starts to take motion, moving inward with the fury of a sleepwalking child, traveling through my intestines blindly -
Gabriel GarceÂa Me¡rquez
I want you to try and remember what it was like to have been very young. And particularly the days when you were first in love; when you were like a person sleepwalking, and you didn't quite see the street you were in, and didn't quite hear everything that was said to you. You're just a little bit crazy. Will you remember that, please?
Your life is a kind of laboratory where you're constantly experimenting with your own higher knowing, always increasing your capacity to design the life you choose. Human beings must create; it's hardwired. The question is, are you consciously creating or only sleepwalking through your human life?
David Emerald Womeldorff
But everyone knows someone who has died, I said. Why is it so hard to think about dying? 'Because, ' Morrie continued, 'most of us walk around as if we're sleepwalking. We really don't experience the world fully, because we're half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.' And facing death changes all that? 'Oh, yes. You strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently.' He sighed. 'Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.
The terrorist attacks were a tragedy for the people who died or were injured, and for their families and friends. For the rest of us, they were a wake-up call as to what type of lunatics we are dealing with. And sleepwalking our way back into ill-sorted, dewy-eyed people personal politics is the last thing we need to set us up for the fight ahead. Come on you liberals, don't give me the morbid pleasure of saying, 'I told you so' again.
Spirituality is about being awake. It's the attempt to transcend the mundane, sleepwalking experience of life we all fall into, to tap into the wonder of being a conscious and grateful thing in the midst of an astonishing universe. It doesn't require religion. Religion can, in fact, and often does, blunt our awareness by substituting false (and dare I say inferior) wonders for real ones. It's a fine joke on ourselves that most of what we call spirituality is actually about putting ourselves to sleep.
On the way out to the car, Philip turns to me. "How could you be so stupid? I shrug, stung in spite of myself. "I thought I grew out of it." Philip pulls out his key fob and presses the remote to unlock his Mercedes. I slide into the passenger side, brushing coffee cups off the seat and onto the floor mat, where crumpled printouts from MapQuest soak up any spilled liquid. "I hope you mean sleepwalking," Philip says, "since you obviously didn't grow out of stupid.
Though we became experimental creatures of our own devising, it's important to bear in mind that we had no inkling of this process, let alone its consequences, until only the last six or seven of our 100, 000 generations. We have done it all sleepwalking. Nature let a few apes into the lab of evolution, switched on the lights, and left us there to mess about with an ever-growing supply of ingredients and processes. The effect on us and the world has accumulated ever since. Let's list a few steps between the earliest times and this: sharp stones, animal skins, useful bits of bone and wood, wild fire, tame fire, seeds for eating, seeds for planting, houses, villages, pottery, cities, metals, wheels, explosives. What strikes one most forcefully is the acceleration, the runaway progression of change - or to put it another way, the collapsing of time. From the first chipped stone to the first smelted iron took nearly 3 million years; from the first iron to the hydrogen bomb took only 3, 000.
If ever again we happened to lose our balance, just when sleepwalking through the same dream on the brink of hell's valley, if ever the magical mare (whom I ride through the night air hollowed out into caverns and caves where wild animals live) in a crazy fit of anger over some word I might have said without the perfect sweetness that works on her like a charm, if ever the magic Mare looks over her shoulder and whinnies: 'So! You don't love me!' and bucks me off, sends me flying to the hyenas, if ever the paper ladder that I climb so easily to go pick stars for Promethea-at the very instant that I reach out my hand and it smells like fresh new moon, so good, it makes you believe in god's genius-if ever at that very instant my ladder catches fire-because it is so fragile, all it would take is someone's brushing against it tactlessly and all that would be left is ashes-if ever I had the dreadful luck again to find myself falling screaming down into the cruel guts of separation, and emptying all my being of hope, down to the last milligram of hope, until I am able to melt into the pure blackness of the abyss and be no more than night and a death rattle, I would really rather not be tumbling around without my pencil and paper.
Pierre Janet, a French professor of psychology who became prominent in the early twentieth century, attempted to fully chronicle late- Victorian hysteria in his landmark work The Major Symptoms of Hysteria. His catalogue of symptoms was staggering, and included somnambulism (not sleepwalking as we think of it today, but a sort of amnesiac condition in which the patient functioned in a trance state, or "second state, " and later remembered nothing); trances or fits of sleep that could last for days, and in which the patient sometimes appeared to be dead; contractures or other disturbances in the motor functions of the limbs; paralysis of various parts of the body; unexplained loss of the use of a sense such as sight or hearing; loss of speech; and disruptions in eating that could entail eventual refusal of food altogether. Janet's profile was sufficiently descriptive of Mollie Fancher that he mentioned her by name as someone who "seems to have had all possible hysterical accidents and attacks." In the face of such strange and often intractable "attacks, " many doctors who treated cases of hysteria in the 1800s developed an ill-concealed exasperation.