Cathedral of experience 


Here we are in a traffic jam outside Prague. This vacation has amazing aspects of many flavors and sizes. The chance to spend time with beloved family members, the chance to pick up scraps of a new language. The sights, sounds, and scents of an ancient city. And the opportunity to see what remains the same across societies. Like traffic jams.
I have been to Prague several times now to visit my dear sister and each time it is the same. I am overwhelmed by the multiple and varied experiences from seeing people I love to climbing cobblestoned streets up to St. Vitus Cathedral.
On this visit I have been granted an extra treat. Since the last visit my lovely niece has acquired a boyfriend. This delightful young man–Tommy Jay–just completed his bachelors degree and I was privileged to read his dissertation on documentation of art.
One third of the body of the dissertation was dedicated to performance art. At its core, performance art is the public manipulation of a bit of a person’s life in order to explore and illuminate human nature. Documentation of performance art is NOT the art itself. However, in order for performance art to leave a mark larger than the lives of the performer and her immediate audience, documentation is vital.
I texted Tommy this morning. “I want to blog about my experience in Prague but I am in sensory overload. I cannot select just one subject.” And his reply was that if I wanted good documentation of my vacation I would have needed to start writing before I started packing.
His statement touched on many important concepts. Suddenly my connection as a traveler and writer to every travel writer and every diarist on a journey was illuminated. Also made clear was the hidden and subtle nature of experience–a string of discrete events bound together only by my consciousness. Then there is a sense of loss. I understand now that I could have written an entire book just about this trip–the nature of anticipation, the days I spent planning for and looking forward to leaving, the nature of my relationship with my sister…I could have teased the themes apart and woven them together again.
Zen philosophy’s stance is that only the present moment is real. From this perspective, every moment is woven of a universe of thought and ideas. Every moment is its own work of art.

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