Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2016 Contents I never appreciated poetry. Per-
haps this is one of the drawbacks
of my education. I viewed most
poems as being akin to cleverly
completed word puzzles that
demonstrated brilliance through the
creative use of an expansive vocab-
The use of rhyme and metre were
undoubtedly impressive. However,
the fanfare surrounding prose poetry
with free flowing sentences of care-
fully selected words that didn t rhyme
confused me. I felt as though anyone
could string together a few frivolous
phrases and pass it off as poetry. My
disdain for this only served to further
incite skepticism about the practicality
of the force-fed syllabus and encour-
age my teenage intellectual rebel-
Oh, but now I get it!
Have you ever really seen some-
thing? Usually we give something a
cursory glance and our mind slaps
the labels and images on it that were
collected in our early childhood. What
we actually see is a conditioned
response to our environment and not
what really is there.
From an evolutionary perspective,
this was advantageous to our survival.
Our early ancestors could give an area
in our field of vision a quick scan to
access it for danger. A conditioned
mind would slap labels on everything:
tree, leaf, bush, rock, bird, etc. In this
way we could quickly continue to
scan other areas for possible threats
and hopefully see that lion before it
was too late.
Light leaves the sun and eight min-
utes later it bounces off of an object
in all directions, some of which hits
the screen in the back of our eyes,
setting off chemical changes there.
This in turn agitates cells that go on
to pass that stimulation to the brain
in the form of electrical impulses.
It s only at this terminus that
chemical reactions and neural synaps-
es in our brain, which is essentially
our mind at work, cause the world
as we know it to spring into existence.
So, what we end up seeing is almost
always a product of our conditioned
mind, which is broken up into the
separate images and ideas from our
memory, and not reality.
Our mind is genetically hardwired
to perceive the world in the exact
way that nature deemed best for our
survival. Autistic people suffer from
a defect that makes their minds see
the world differently. It s plausible
that other animals "see" the world
in very unusual ways that have been
proven to be more advantageous for
their survival. Can you imagine seeing
the world through the eyes of a young
child? You would see things as they
really are, without the conditioned
mind with its labels, stories and
images from your memory getting
in the way of what is actually there.
If you can stay with the cutting
edge of where the present meets the
future, even for just a few seconds
in this place of stillness, there is no
mind. You are taking in direct expe-
rience faster than the chemical reac-
tions of the brain that form the
thoughts of the mind can take place.
In this way seeing and experiencing
can become a form of meditation.
To see things as they really are is
to appreciate the sublime beauty of
this world, and to be moved by a
sense of awe at the perfection of cre-
ation. It makes you want to start
It is impossible to know a feeling---
because you can t quite remember
it. Perhaps it s because we are unable
to spontaneously recreate the unique
brain chemistry that causes them.
Cut through the images and stories
that the mind layers on top of the
feeling, and go deep into it, to really
feel the experience, whatever it is---
joy, love, sadness. You will find that
words simply can t convey the depth
of what it feels like to be alive. Try
describing what love feels like to
someone who has never been in love.
You can t do it.
A good poem is able to almost
express the unknowable depth of
experience that constitutes emotions.
Those carefully selected words that
don t rhyme can approach a feeling
from a unique angle and caress it
with a beautifully crafted metaphor.
It can show you the freshness of what
the world looks like through the eyes
of a child, and let you again marvel
at its strange and beautiful glory.
When this is done right, it gives you
a gentle nudge back into stillness.
Maybe everyone knew all along,
but I finally understand, and I am
going to start writing poetry.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Passage to poetry
Nepalese Hindu devotees
offer a prayer on the
bank of Hanumante
River during the
festival in Bhaktapur,
Nepal, yesterday. During
this month-long festival,
devotees recite Holy
Scriptures dedicated to
Swasthani and Lord
Shiva. Unmarried women
pray to get a good
husband while those
married pray for the
longevity of their
husbands by observing a
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