I don’t mean knowledge or facts. I’m not talking about words, labels or content.
I’m talking about perception. How do we perceive the world, at a level that’s most basic and raw? Without the steady stream of thought that continually tries to make sense of our perceptions. Or even ourselves.
I’m talking about the canvas, before we slather it with words and thoughts and worries and musings. A canvas that is ever changing, moment to moment, steeped in the restless world we find ourselves in.
Take this very moment. You’re reading words on a screen. Your brain is effortlessly crunching all those nouns, verbs, and conjunctions: framing them against your accumulated bank of knowledge, experience and attitudes.
But on another level, writing is just sticks and swirls.
“London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, My fair Lady.
Build it up with wood and clay, Wood and clay, wood and clay. Build it up with wood and clay, My fair Lady.”
As I tread these streets of London, rain streaming off rooftops, puddles lining the paving-stones like little pools of transient street-art, concentric circles appearing and disappearing within them, I think of this city. This great great city.
It’s two days now after another senseless assault; people were hurt and killed. And my heart cries for them, and for the people who hold them so dear. And as I walk, I look around me, at the city streets through the driving rain.
I wander past London’s squares and structures, buildings and bridges: they whisper words into my ear, reassuring me with their stories from days gone by. History hangs heavy in the air, like mist, swirling through the city’s alleys and gardens, wispy tendrils of history clinging onto cobblestones and brickwork.
Too much history for some. And not always good. But in amongst the narratives of this city – tangling and jostling as they do – lies the very oldest one. One that’s still the loudest and proudest of them all – the indefatigable spirit of Londoners in the face of adversity.