From Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure by Richard Byrd:

I don’t try to force myself to sleep, as I sometimes do at home. My whole life here is an experiment in harmony, and I let the bodily processes achieve a natural equilibrium. As a rule, it doesn’t take me long to go to sleep. But a man can live a lifetime in a few half-dreaming moments of introspection between going to bed and falling asleep: a lifetime reordered and edited to satisfy the ever-changing demands of the mind.

I realize now that I’ve made a mistake in selecting this passage as my first writing prompt. Byrd’s reflection is full of truth, which I find difficult to capture and examine with words. We’ve all had similar moments of idle inwardness, where life is reordered, where sacred truths are made known, where we “see” differently. These experiences give us a heightened sense of things—palpable feelings of connectedness to the people and world around us.

It's easy to dismiss this kind of thinking as cliché, New Age woo. But no matter where or how these transitory moments occur, I think they deserve serious examination. They’re a vehicle for making sense of one’s present state of mind.

Books that came to mind...

  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception
  • Edward S. Casey, Remembering: A Phenomenological Study
Justin S