During the mild months, the porch was screened in so we could read and sleep and play in a relatively bug free environment. It is from those months that I think I remember another detail. There was a metal panel over the lower half of the screen door. It was a sort of box weave, shiny green metal strips about a quarter of an inch wide that made a grid of squares about an inch and a half across. It rattled when the door shut. I try to see it on the other screen walls, but it fades out. Might not have been there. I'll look again another day. However, I need to emphasize that getting the physical reality of the porch clear in my head is more entertainment than harmonic necessity. It is the memory of the Harmony of the porch that is important.
James Taylor does a “what I remember about growing up” song called, Copperline. Copperline captures that difference between physical and emotional recall. The song is all about memory, magical memory if you will. In the song Taylor recalls the harmonic moments that unfolded in that magical place :
Branch water and tomato wine, creosote and turpentine,
sour mash and new moonshine . . .
First kiss ever I took, like a page from a romance book,
the sky opened and the earth shook, down on Copperline.
But then there is this bit in the last verse:
I tried to go back, as if I could, all spec house and plywood.
Tore up, and tore up good, down on Copperline.
It doesn't come as a surprise to me, it doesn't touch my memory.
I could, and have, gotten on Google Earth and flown back to the porch of the house where I was raised. The fact that the house and the porch are still there is a bittersweet testimony to the fact that my hometown has been frozen in time for the last half century. Springfield appears to be neither dying nor thriving. Rather it is caught in a strange kind of stasis, as though waiting for the kiss of a prince to wake it. The house and the porch, unlike Copperline, are not "tore up good," still,"seedy" would seem an apt adjective. But just as current Copperline leaves Taylor unperturbed, current Springfield cannot touch my memory. The current physical reality has no impact on the meditative porch that I keep in my heart and head.
As described in the linked posts above, I go to the porch of my memory to calm the cognitive stream that defines my "walk-about, get it done now, take a stand, real world." The tranquility of the porch in my head lets the subsequent meditation unfold. However, before I relax into the meditation, I do "walk around" the porch, checking its physical and metaphysical structure, seeing if there is anything in need of repair. And the criteria for any remodeling of the porch adhere to the old notion of "form follows function."
The function of the magical porch in my head is to create a space that is in tune with what a couple of decades ago I called The God Chord, and now think of as the Distilled Harmony of existence. So any changes to the porch need to be changes that move me toward that goal, toward creating a meditative space that manifests the four tenets of Distilled Harmony (see www.distilledharmony.com) — Foster Harmony, Enable Beauty, Distill Complexity, and Oppose Harm. Well, the last time I walked around the porch I discovered a bit of discord that I needed to address.
You may remember that I wrote about envisioning the discordant bad bits of your life as tennis balls that tried to bounce up onto your porch. You then seized your metaphysical tennis racket and smacked them off the porch and out into some universe far, far away. Remember that? Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to back away from that idea. It does Oppose Harm. But Oppose Harm is the fourth tenet. The first tenet of Distilled Harmony is Foster Harmony. It seemed more and more that while it might feel good to smack those discordant bits out into some alternate reality, it was counterproductive from a meditation perspective. Raised the heart rate, the old fight or flight reaction kicked it. Calming it was not.
Here is the thing to remember as you construct your own version of "the porch," whatever, whenever or wherever it may be. Harmony is the natural state of existence, but you cannot force it to surround you. You need to wait patiently for it to gently enfold you. Your porch is the metaphysical — perhaps with physical elements — space that you construct as “the space in which you wait." Hence it must be an environment that welcomes Harmony. Whacking the discordant bits with metaphysical racquets and bats does not create an environment that welcomes Harmony.
So here is what I have changed. The porch screens are now woven from Harmony. The bad bits still try to tempt me into the "Boy, I should have…" and the "If I'd only…" fights. But now when they try to bounce up onto the porch they “poof" into the transparent screens of Harmony, about the texture of Cotten candy. The screens restrain the bad bits and re-tune them into harmonies that I still cannot recognize. Once re-tuned, the bad bits are sent drifting off into spaces and places that concern me not at all. Occasionally, the thump of their initial impact intrudes upon the porch. But at most I glance up, nod in friendly recognition, and wave as they toddle off.
Then I focus on the music and wait patiently for Harmony to be once again revealed, and waft me away to quiet nothingness.