Fables from the Fishmonger’s Apprentice IV: Cartography of Jupiter & the Four Quartets

For us is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

—T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

In this post’s antecedent, a monkey at a typewriter unveiled a rough-hewn road-map for the benefit of those of us wishing to carry out an evolution of our own behavior. The value of such formulations is only conditional, instrumental. Their measure is by the degree that they are of utility for the reader in her own process. Words & formulations indicate something beyond themselves. They are symbols. They have meaning. They signify something truer. Ultimately we must depend on their symbolic efficacy, since even prolific monkeys with free access to typewriters fail to trade in actual experiences:

The map is not the territory.

Nevertheless, there is a certain advantage in reiteration—it clarifies the map, as it were. Each formulation is it’s own finger, pointing towards whatever sight that’s worth seeing. Through the triangulation of sundry formulations, we discover a treasure at last. That’s why this series has many parts. The complimentary conception I would like to present in this post is simple, almost skeletal. “Brevity [being] the soul of wit,” let me delay no further to present a second map:

(1)Create the conditions for evolution

(2) Get out of the way to allow the process to transpire. My heartbeat is not something I do in the usual deliberate understanding of this verb. And yet

My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time.

Neither do I grow my fingernails. Instead, I sustain the conditions wherein my body can manage such processes by its own internal alchemy. If I flew to Jupiter with no snacks or Alan Watts lectures, such a trip would constitute a dereliction of my duty to sustain these said conditions—I would no longer be providing for my body’s welfare. In the miasmic mess & ungodly gravity of the celestial body of this dethroned Olympian, my own organism would find homeostasis altogether unmanageable & ergo, all such aforementioned processes would cease & I should surely perish. But if I moved to Aruba, I would likely have no trouble whatsoever. A fellow’s fingernails might even grow faster with more endogenous vitamin D production or something—who knows? 

 At The Way of the Elbow, I conceive of my relationship with a client as one of shared-aim: we cooperate to provide his or her body with the conditions it requires to flourish. We are gardeners of sorts, and our physical frames our flower-pots & garden-boxes, ready to sustain a myriad blossoms. For us is only the planting, the tending, & attending. It’s patently harmful to attempt to expedite the processes of nature by pulling up the sprouts with little tweezers even as they take their first taste of springtime’s rays, for example: “Kindly let me help you or you’ll drown,” said the monkey to the eel as he placed him in a tree (I suspect that even thinking too solemnly about it might somehow hinder optimal progression). 

 Returning again to the horticultural conceit: like the bud of a flower that trembles in the dew at sunrise, each of our bodies contains a potential that is exquisite & poised to unfold. Our task is to support this unique natural expression. I would be a lunatic of a gardener to expect a tiger-lily to grow as a tulip, or a tulip as a rose. But if we do my part, the buds might one day bloom.

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