I find that one way of sensing our unity with the universe- that is, with reaching a sense of in-depth commonality - is to take in the complexity of even the most apparently mundane scene.
We’re walking along a side-street off the Earls Court Road. It’s a grey London morning. You look at a parked car, and think briefly of the complexity of its manufacture, all the physical and chemical actions and reactions ready to burst into action when the driver arrives.
Think of the cultural associations that went into its design, into even just its name. Think of it two years ago - molten steel being rolled into sheets, plastic dashboard being moulded, computer circuits being set up..this isn't one thing.Think of the car in 20 years' time - a rusting relic, or a cube of scrap steel. This car is in motion even when its parked. As are we all.
Look up at the large terraces lining the street. Each storey is a flat. Each flat contains a history of arrivals and departures, joys and sorrows. Individuals emerge from the door of just one flat and hurry off towards their work, or school, or....?
They take with them their stories to date, the stories they are building in their heads, the memories they are dwelling on, remoulding and changing them in the moment.
Here’s one of those lovely large London plane trees, just beginning to shed its leaves, moving into its autumn, maybe a little earlier than some of the other trees, a little later than some. Every tree varies, is unique, yet we can name it as a type of tree. Think of all that photosynthesis, water being drawn up the trunk, insects living in the tree far above the busy street.
We turn into Earls Court Road itself...the traffic is a loud discombobulating torrent.
You think you know the Earls Court Road. You don’t, even if you’ve lived in the area all your life. You don’t completely know anything, because to do so would tie it down to one time and place. The river of traffic in the road - a cliché but a useful metaphor if it reminds us that the road is a slower version of the traffic thundering along it. It is all processes, not separate things.
People from the flats go their separate ways. You and I part, you to the Undergound station and thence wherever you need to get to, building your own changing story of today.
I walk on, remembering that I’m not the same person who left the hotel ten minutes ago. All is change, all is in motion; feeling that, the traffic seems a little more bearable, part of the unique present moment that goes as soon as it arrives.
Like that damned great truck. I need to stop musing and concentrate on crossing the road, or - squelch. I would become a quite different set of processes!