[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
The opposite of never not thinking is to not think at all, to be entirely sensate. It would be wrong to say that both are equally hard. You can try to never not think, even if you keep failing. You can’t make yourself entirely sensate by trying. (Experienced meditators may claim otherwise.) Either it happens, or not. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that apart from orgasm, for most people both are equally rare. You’re entirely sensate when you’re coming. Once the floodgates of pleasure open, you are only that pleasure. It’s involuntary. But otherwise? Whatever else you feel, there’s almost always a low rumbling in the head about something else.
The only time I can remember being entirely sensate was on Prince Edward’s Island. I’d been given an unexpected four weeks of paid summer leave from my job while they found an office for me in a different department. (They were planning to fire someone I would replace but had to give her notice.) It was too late to make overseas travel plans. I got in my car and drove north towards Canada. I intended to tour New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia, returning home to Boston via Campobello. It wasn’t bad, but not great. I was alone and sometimes lonely, especially in the evenings.
On Prince Edward’s Island, I went to a beach. There were almost no people. When packing, I hadn’t thought to bring a suit. So I lay face down on my arms between two low outcrops of reddish rock which shielded me from the occasional stroller along the shore. The sand was silky, the sun gentle on arms and legs and upturned cheek. Fear and worry melted away. I had no thoughts at all. I was one with the ground beneath me. Cradled in warmth, I drifted slowly into sleep.
When I woke, it was over. And it was only the once. I doubt I could ever again find that beach, with its protective rocks. But I’ve never forgotten how I felt there.
Animals know how to just feel, just be. Sometimes I envy them.