Slow attention: spinning life in the Everglades — primeval “swamp time”


Girvin, Inc.

EXAMINATIONS OF FOCUS AND PRECISION | SLOW TIME, SLOW OBSERVATION — the art of looking slow.

I spent some time, working in, and exploring, Florida.

I will have to confess that — of all the places that I experienced — even while working there, the Everglades was one of the most fascinating. And supremely undervalued, in terms of the amount of time that I needed to be there, exploring.

There were so many things happening in those ecosystems that I could only just began to sense the complexity of the systems and environments. Herons. Not one type, but many. Egrets — many. Raptors and predatory birds: manifold. Waterfowl: multitudinous. And alligators — ancient wonders.

Still, in the silence of the swamps, I really found myself sliding into the primeval time of observation; for me, it’s that way of thinking that takes you out of the ridiculousness of the fray of busy-ness, into a kind of naturalized contemplation that draws you into the swamp pace.

Swamp time, I’d call it. But swamp, the idea of the swamp isn’t newly known, but hundreds, even thousands of years old — as, distinctively, a place. I ponder though the idea of swamp as being a kind of spongy absorptive and complexly layered way of experiencing things. Walking into the swamp, everything is alive, but quiet — there are actions, rustlings, swirling waters, ripples — the occasional call. But otherwise, there is a gauzy silence.

Creatures here seem to focus in a different way. They stand silent, supremely patient, quietly studying with the most intense and focused gaze — moving slowly, or steadfastly contemplative: dead still. Then they strike out — like lightning — and return to silence and study.

A good meditation for us all.

For me.

Swamp mind — lies here, in the roots of time: ancient speaking, primeval ideas, birth place. The most recent use: 1624 (Capt. John Smith, in referencing Virginia), perhaps a dialectal survival from an Old English cognate of the Old Norse svoppr “sponge, fungus,” from — reaching into the mists of antiquity — the Proto Germanic: *swampuz; but traditionally connected with Medieval English — sompe “morass, swamp,” probably from Middle Dutch — somp or Middle Low German sump “swamp.” Related to Old Norse svöppr “sponge.” The verb sense of “overwhelm, sink (as if in a swamp)” is first recorded 1772; fig. sense is from 1818. (Douglas Harper)

Beauty, the allegory of the attention and the observational: paying heed, watchful and aware. Profound these reflections — for me.

More, here: http://www.girvin.com/blog/?s=attention. A focus, for me.

Tim

CONTEMPLATION / BRANDS / ENTERTAINMENT
http://www.girvin.com/blog/?cat=301

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