in college we studied quantum theory a little and one day visited the particle accelerator in los alamos, nm. this contraption is something like ¾ of a mile long, originating in a large complex of buildings whose purpose is to strip an electron off a hydrogen atom and then send the nucleus and a few other particles tumbling at close to the speed of light towards another complex of buildings in which there is a VERY special kind of observation camera, which in itself looks like a 12 headed alien. this particular camera investigates neutrons, which can fall easily at very high velocities through concrete, steel and granite, yet can be stopped by certain plastics and foam. the complex as a whole is an nuclear accelerator and nuclei are investigated and tortured there. that is, the interior of the nucleus is under examination. in order to examine the nucleus, the other particles (like electrons) must get stripped away from this intense magnetic center. i remember vividly exploring the upper chamber there where the electrons are removed: a dramatic room, clad entirely in stainless steel, behind thick glass, held huge cylindrical towers also made of stainless steel and they were arcing to the walls of the room, lighting bolt-thick ropes of electrical arc which resounded throughout everybody’s business… and we were guided by a real large man, reg, who was dressed like a farmer, plaid woolen shirt and overalls, a Ph.D. physicist, specializing in atomic physics (not to be confused with nuclear physics). he told us, “i can tell you how we get the electron off the atom… that’s what we do up here… but don’t ask me about the nucleus, i have no idea what goes on in that thing… you’ll have to go ask one of the gentlemen below.” it was so impressive to me that the farmer of this place was just the guy who removed the electron and the real city boys were downtown, looking at nuclei…


not too long ago a friend counseled me in a business matter… a particular matter which had a dubious ending and which offered a little stress… i shared this with him and he shed the problem like feather in a shower of rain and later on that night sent me an email with a picture of himself standing in water shin deep with a spiral of white rocks sitting on the ocean floor around his feet, spiraling into to himself. the note attached to this read, “don’t spin out…. spin in.”


i was remembering both of these nice experiences this morning with respect to some things that have been going on and i realized how closely related they are. that is, just how much power lies within us. the electrical paths arcing through our bodies are so ornate and lively… and the power there is so infinite compared to what we could effect trying to push stones around at arm’s length.

inside of one hydrogen atom (the lightest one), the energy inherent in the bond between the single electron and the nucleus is enough energy to accomplish the work required to lift one ton of concrete two meters off the ground! one atom. that is just the bond between the magnetic center and its little electron. the bond holding the nucleus itself together is MUCH more powerful. each of us has several billion of these units within us. how much less useful to spin out, into the region we have no control over… rather than internally, where the power is a billion fires burning at a billion hearths within castles surrounded by field after field of ripe nutrient, armies to serve us, monks praying for us and gods contemplating our destinies…


planes are taking off, people are moving frantically to and fro, looking for themselves, for an answer… when all that is required is a glance within, and then another glance, and then a long look… leading to an examination of oneself, of one’s makeup… and to surrender to this, to oneself, is a way to change the world… to change the way others reflect ourselves to us, and the way we reflect them back to them.


the eternal footman

i took a nap not too long ago, upstairs in my house, in the afternoon… having worked until late the night before and risen early, i returned home and fell asleep on the sheepskin while the sky was still bright in the windows.  i was so tired that i felt immediately the mega-lung breathing for me, pulling me into unconsciousness… yet it happened so quickly that i was disconcerted and it took several quick visits to the netherworld for me to finally let go, and as i did i felt the feeling of beyond, still disconcerted, though this time i had no reserves left and went into it wholly.  i had dark sleep, entirely without dreams.  when i awoke i was so altered that it took several minutes to understand what had happened, what day it was, time, who i am, etc.  i also realized upon waking that i had been dragged into some undertow, some other psychic current different from rest, and also completely without physical location, as though i had journeyed into the archetypal seed of myself, or the nut standing at universe center, moments before the big bang.  these realizations were of no conciliation: the “place” i’d visited was so impressive that it took a long while to rid myself of the feeling.  “place” is not the right word for where i went because its essence was entirely without spacial dimension… in a word, i had viewed nothingness.  or nothingness had visited me.  it was not black or dark… no: it was cold.  and the chill stuck with me.  if things are born because they have opposition, i viewed the opposite of things.  no things.  nothing.  and it was chilly.  is chilly.

for some reason i was visited by the nothing again tonight.  sitting in my truck, listening to the third movement of beehoven’s fifth symphony, where all the strings staccato, da da da da, uhhhh unh unh ah, a little faster and then double time.  mist hung over the road and an old bmw sidecar bike passed me and disappeared into the mist.  i could feel a giant tiptoeing.  i could sense beethoven flirting with the nothing.  “and in a word,” t.s. eliot says, “i was afraid.”  afraid that death is this feeling, feeling nothing.  this is different from not feeling.  it is FEELING nothing.  while this feeling is frightening… it also has its correlation: which is its EXPRESSION, meaning the true ability to detail this nothingness, which is an interface with the mind of god (because only god’s mind can comprehend this “thing.”) and its language must be math or that music of beethoven, god bless him.