Nothing is as it seems, of course

I have been walking – somewhere between one and three hours a day. I wear flat shoes and pretend I don’t have a preferred gait, so sometimes my heel lands first, sometimes the balls of my feet, though I don’t enjoy either extreme, so the range tends toward the middle, which at the moment means just where the ball meets the arch. That spot landing an instant before the heel does. There is a springiness in it.

Bloom’s taxonomy observes the analysis, but isn’t there so much there. One adjusts the resolution, emphasizing and de-emphasizing sets of features, comparing those features with other models, with their resolution at some level, and some set of their features emphasized or de-emphasized. We map out one set of behaviors through a mental model, which we discover through this analysis, synthesis, comparison, adjustment of resolution, and emphasis and de-emphasis of sets of features.

Nothing is as it seems, because we cannot hold anything in one way of seeming without excluding other ways that are valid. The sense of a piece on a chess board lies in its relation to the other pieces, those that defend it and those that threaten it, those that it defends and those that it threatens.

Walking, sitting, standing, lying down – none of these can be what they seem, because each instance of these classes lies in a spectrum of modalities, temporal, spatial, and strategic. One can get stuck into thinking of lying down as the posture of rest, but walking is the restful set of postures if one has been lying down and grown weary of it. Walking cannot be what it seems because there is a broad and intricately incremented spectrum of patterns. When I hold one mental model of it, comparisons follow, features are emphasized, behaviors are emphasized, and my nerves grow weary of these emphases, just as one shifts posture in their seat.

Chronic pain springs from wanting to find one right posture and misinterpreting the impulse to shift with something being wrong. Movement, a constant shifting for ease and advantage, is what is normal. Holding still makes no sense. We weren’t made for it. Rest is relative.

Noticing a feature of a phenomenon like walking or sitting for the first time, I am so astonished. I fear the fickleness of the noticing. You mean our progress is dependent on noticing? How precarious.

One can learn so many things. A springiness in the arch, a rolling forward of the pelvis in the sukhasana, the rounded back straightening, the vertabrae stacking. Stories one tells oneself to convince parts inside that they can stop translating each signal from the quadratus lumborum as pain. I’ve been walking what one might call mindfully for three weeks, and each day a different feel for it emerges, some features emphasized, some de-emphasized. Today it was the springiness and the utility of various gaits depending on the terrain and the context.

One can detect a dog’s mood from her gait. Some poet once said that he did not know that he felt something until he had sait it out loud to some woman, standing at the mantel or something, I don’t know. But isn’t it true that we might not know what we are feeling until we walk in way that allows us to detect it? The feet are particularly sensitive, full of tiny bones and nerve endings. And their connection with our mind is particularly nuanced. We can walk around, smashing flesh against bone all day and feel fine about it, and yet a slight arbnormality and we are howling. I wonder if the centaur or the minotaur is distant in some way, liberated by oblivion, interested only in freedom and traps.

Of all things that are not what they seem, is writing up there? It seems so to me. Writing is more about walking than anything, the processing of thoughts. A thought is an output which immediately becomes an input. Step, step, step. It is senseless to start writing with an instrument in hand. One writes far before that, then records what happened. And of course that record is an output, which becomes an input. And so on. 


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