17th century mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes is best known for his phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” He was called the father of modern philosophy, and his brain was clearly his strongest feature. He came up with analytical geometry in his free time, for example.

So let’s return to this phrase. I think, therefore I am? Do you think it’s true? Does this thinking prove that we exist? I’m tempted to think that the opposite is sometimes true: thinking can be an obstacle to being. Just think about it (oops, don’t think too hard…) The process of thinking about work, future plans, a problem, a relationship— all of these thoughts remove us, sometimes violently, from the present moment. And the now is where we live. Now.
I don’t know about you, but for me the many things that spin through my little head all day long take me away from just being. There are times when I’m “in my head”, and not in the room or on the street where my body is. Of course we sometimes need this intensity of figuring, planning, solving in order to fulfill our roles. But do we ever give ourselves time to stop and enjoy, or touch deep places in the well of our awareness?

Today I visited a pottery exhibit. I love pottery. I took my time, walking along ethnically diverse, winding streets, observing the collage of colors, smells, types of food, various sorts of people from numerous countries speaking multiple languages. At the exhibit I chatted with a ceramic trainer and observed art from professional ceramicists. And since I was in one of the two main Chinese neighborhoods in Paris, I decided to get some Chinese food. I noticed one restaurant which sold grilled ravioli, and thought, grilled ravioli? I need to try this! The place was packed. Two women ended up sitting at my table with me. One of them, an artist, told me about a lithography exposition nearby, so I went to see it.

My outing only took about two hours, but it was the most fun I’ve had in a while, just letting things happen moment by moment. Doing this regularly is essential for my mental and emotional health, as I learn the fine art of being. I need practice in this, I’ll admit. But if I’d known it was this much fun, I’d have started much sooner!
April 8, 2013