“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non- human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.” ~ The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness
The Cambridge Declaration, when it was released two years ago, gave me one of those geek rushes that only a science buff can appreciate. It was right up there with the vivid energy revealed when the wonders held within a starry starry night are set free by a state of nearly meditational inner peace. That’s what I was just doing, 20 minutes ago. The air is now solidly autumn air, no borderline to it. I love that about the autumnal equinox. It’s like the big cosmic switch is tripped and everything changes. I could say that we humans are just along for the ride, but that seems somewhat cheeky to me. The way I see it is that we are, part and parcel, components of the ride. I picture this as I write, here in the cold morning of my life, and I am not seeing the vastness of this high desert mountain valley, rather I am seeing the whole friggin planet, I am seeing the East Indian spacecraft orbiting Mars, the humming mystery that is Jupiter, the eerie cold where Pluto has just gone astrologically direct, and then there are all them stars out there, galaxies beyond, and somewhere in the blessed vibrancy of the whole big picture Kim Kardashian waits to snap her fingers at a photographer, thus bringing further importance to her place in the whole shouting match. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind shouting at her my own self. Pretty face and all. I mean, come on, right?
When I first started working with shelter cats I didn’t know what I was getting into. Goddess knows I should’ve known, but some form of personal mental density came upon me, and there I was, clueless for a spell. But the shelter cats, as all cats do, set me straight on a few things right away, one of which is like all dude what you call chaos is what we call home. And somehow I knew exactly what they meant by that. I wasn’t being dissed so much as I was being given a gift of instructional importance , which I would be wise to consciously accept and examine, thus I did so. Ob la di ob la da. I was already equipped with the gift of instructional importance that was the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, laid out for all the world to see. Those of us who subscribe to a more New Agey spiritualism already knew that which was declared yonder at Cambridge. It was just nice to hear a cadre of scientist say it out loud. So . . . when I came face to face with a room full of cats I knew that I was up against a committee of sorts. It’s fun though. Usually, when I first get to work, I make the rounds, bidding a good morning to each and every cat, calling them by name, and sparking these greetings with enthusiasm. They are my friends, my family. When I first walk through the door the rousing sound of feline greetings rises up and brings my emotional state with it. Smiles and amusement ensue. Kitties! Some cats just want a skritch alongside the head or behind the ear, some make simple and serious eye contact related to the expectation of kibble, some want to box, and some turn their butt to me then reach out to snag either my shirt or the flesh of my forearm as I move along to the next cat. Friggin cheeky critters. Conscious awareness pervades the room. The rich presence of intentional action does as well. We are all in it together.
My job, which I dearly love, has been therapeutic all along. As a fella with bipolar disorder I cherish the integration that therapy makes possible. Personal growth seems to be the only way out. It’s and incentive plan, a sort of carrot on a stick thing, and if I can keep that knowledge up front in my awareness and intention I can stay hopeful rather than sinking down into that muck of hopelessness, a place that I know all too friggin well. And then there are the situational, serendipitous things, gifts that pop up out of the plenum and grab me by the collar, giving me a head wedgie. Take for instance the chat I had with a beautiful woman last week. Yes, I was attracted to her. That wasn’t the point, although it allowed the point to get to the point. The point was the growing and glowing soul warmth that arose within me. Sweet. A few days before the equinox something changed, much like the change that the equinox provides, and the change, a powerful rush of personal growth, was irreversible, and it went on further in that it also led me consciously back into the Dreamtime, the imaginal place that, again consciously, allows me to consider and interact with archetypes and mythological matrices. All of that is to say that I remember those blue eyes in a way that some folks might call haunted. Those eyes and that intellect. Articulation and smiles. All of it. It was like all holistic and stuff like dude she rocks. Now that’s what I call therapeutic. I love the feelings she gave me. Thank you, m’lady.
My coffee has gone tepid while I wrote. I can get immersed in writing. It happens all the time. But for my coffee to go tepid? The implications in that are smiling things in that I use the stuff in my head to get out of my own head. That’s what I mean by integration. Integration brings ambiguity into the picture and leaves it to stay. Ambiguity is actually a luscious quality, when used as a spiritual and psychological tool. Those eyes, those star, the science, the Dreamtime, and them friggin cats. All of it. It all pops up from the plenum, I perceive, and it stays that way.
Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.