Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Migrating Eyes

Consciousness—it is best understood against its opposite, unconsciousness. It is more than being awake as opposed to being in a coma, but where unconsciousness can be imaged as an ocean, in its darkness and vastness, consciousness usually is like the tip of the iceberg (i.e. 1/8 of the iceberg) in the ocean.

It usually is limited and can be with one thing at a time and requires a lot of psychic effort on one’s part, because the default mode of functioning for humans most of the time is to be unconscious, we are in our own dreams all the time and only come out of that dream from time to time to interact with the world. And this is because attainment of consciousness is an injury, an insult and no one volunteers for it. That default mode of psychic functioning is one in which we are all that matters, we are IT and we have it all, and know it all, and in that economy, it is only me, myself and I, but then consciousness which is a prize of conflict resolved, challenges our egocentric position, and conflict is inevitable when we have to interact with another human being, but when endured and apprehended is the only way that we grow.

But the good news is that once consciousness is attained in one area or with regards to an issue, it is never lost, it remains forever ‘out of the ocean’ so to say. If this is challenging for an individual to attain, one can imagine what it must be for the collective as in a society or a country!!

My grandmother used to describe consciousness or the lack of it with a metaphor of migrating eyes. For example, with regards to child rearing practices, and force feeding those babies and toddlers who would just refuse to eat, I had two of them and trust me it is tough for a mother. The mother sits on a low stool, and straddles the child across her left thigh, she traps the child's midriff under her left armpit, so the child is upside down, and almost face down between her legs, she then covers the child's nostrils with her cupped right hand, this forces the child to open his or her mouth to breathe, when the child does this, she pours in the food usually a corn meal or other liquids into the child's mouth using her cupped hand as a funnel, and the child, so she can breathe gulps this down quickly. To the child it feels like imminent death. She did practice it with me, but then she stopped with my younger cousins and when they would refuse to eat and she was frustrated, she would say, ‘when the eyes were at the level of the knees, I would have force fed you.’ In essence, she was referring to a time when there was no awareness of the dangers –physically and psychologically to force feeding a child. Quite a few children died from aspirating the food being forced into them by well-meaning mothers who didn’t want their children to starve to death, or become malnourished.