While playing with my niece I noticed an interesting thing. I should first mention that it reminded me alot about my childhood. In fact, reexperiencing it again brought back many memories of my childhood. Play, for me, could be very profound for me as a child. This play revolved around a specific way of experiencing the ‘presence’. Because of how it appeared I called it the ‘confined presence’. I found that this was a big part of my play as a child.
The ‘confined presence’ has the quality that the ‘presence’ seems confined to your immediate area. It’s hard to describe. Normally, the ‘presence’ feels as if it goes beyond things spatially for ever. In the ‘confined presence’ it does not do this. It seems confined in your immediate area, typically the room you’re in. The area beyond the sense of the ‘presence’ seems non existent. As a result, there is a very strong sense of the immediate area. This immediate area, it seems, is ‘felt’ almost like a fluid all about me.
In general, I’ve found that one of the effects of this is that the world is smaller. There is a lack of the ‘burden’ of the world, with all its myriad qualities, contradictions, problems, and disputes. This gives the ‘confined presence’ a sense of simplicity, of immediacy, and makes everything seem relevent, without the unknown. This is part of the power of the ‘confined presence’. This is also why play became so powerful, at least for me. It made me able to focus without distractions, and have minimal conflicts. It’s like the ‘confined presence’ is geared to maximizing the experience of life. Looking back on it now, I can see that my involvment with the ‘presence’ began here.
Within the ‘confined presence’ I always had this sense of a ‘person’ who was beyond the confined immediate presence sense. Often, I could faintly see an image of this person in my mind. He seemed to be watching over me. As a result, I felt protected and secure.
When I grew up the ‘presence’ expanded beyond its confines, beyond my immediate surroundings. I became engrossed in the unknown and uncertainties of life. In effect, when the ‘presence’ ceased to be confined there appeared conflict, pain, and suffering. But I cannot say if the problems of adulthood caused the loss of ‘confinement’ or if the ‘confinement’ ended and they appeared. All in all, there seems an association between adulthood and the ‘confined presence’. When adulthood appears, the ‘confined presence’ disappears for whatever reason.
It seems that the ‘presence’ of adulthood is the combination of the ‘confined presence’ of childhood and the sense of the ‘person’ I described above who watched me. Somehow, these blended together and created the new adult ‘presence’. Once the confines of the presence have been expanded it seems there is a ‘grimness’ to the presence. There is a sense of fear, of despair, and so on.
In general, it seems that during the period of the ‘confined presence’ I felt:
– A safety. I felt as if ‘looked over’ by the other ‘person’.
– A lack of criticalness. No matter what I did there was nothing to condemn me. I could be natural.
– A simplicity. All that mattered and was important was what was there in front of me.
– A certainty. In general, since everything was simple and clearcut, there seemed to be nothing to contradict anything or confuse me.
These, really, are conditions for play.
One thing, I think, that this brings out is that there is a critical period time in the development of the perception of ‘god’, as the ‘person’ I felt would later, as an adult, become ‘god’. It shows that the years of ‘turning into an adult’ are critical for this development. In other words, there is a great change in the perception of ‘god’ between 10 and 20. If this change is not done satisfactorily, peoples sense of ‘god’ is seriously jeopardized. There is a great change between the ‘confined presence’ of childhood and the ‘adult presence’ which has to be performed. I know that, at least in this country, this sense is easily lost because there is nothing to help carry over this transformation.
For me, as a child, this ‘confined presence’ would sometimes be very powerful. When it began to leave me, in the late grade school period of time, it actually caused something like a ‘mourning’ in me. There are two dreams in my life that have always stood out in my mind. One involves the loss of play and the ‘confined presence’. In many ways, I have spent the rest of my life trying to regain its sense. Contemplation, really, is trying to regain this sense. Much of religion, really, is geared to regaining this sense as well. This shows that the ‘adult presence’ is very unnerving and insufficient for us. It shows that it is inadequate. Only by ‘regaining our youth’ is this dilemma solved. Is it any wonder that many religions speak of ‘being like a child’?