in Philosophy of Tracking

Questions that Reveal Vitality

I hope now that some of you have tried asking that question, “which creates more of a sense of ‘at home’ in me: this, or that? Which can I more “come home” to?”.

For me, this question tends to have the most power to reveal the next step, the next decision or action, that  creates the most “wholeness” in me and everyone around me.

But I don’t see this question as an infallible one; it works for me, but quite possibly, another one will work better for you.

You could also ask, “What mirrors my true self more: this or that?”. Or, “what creates more wholeness in me?”. Try different questions; ask two of this about the same options, and see if you get different responses.

I encourage you to ask this question, in order to surprise yourself, by discovering that what you like, what fits your personal taste, does not necessarily indicate what creates more life in you and those around you. Compare those two questions, ask them in the same context, “what creates more of a ‘coming home’ in me” vs. “which do I like more?”. I think the answers will shock you.

You will find, that this sense of “wholeness” and “vitality” stays relatively consistent from person to person; that by far, most people (to their own surprise) will agree on what creates wholeness. They may need different questions to reveal this innate sense, but they will agree overall.

For example, though Christopher Alexander has had great success with it, I know for me the idea of “a mirror of my true self” does not call up the same sensitivity as “a feeling of coming home”. The “mirror of the self” sensation tends to get me thinking about personal likes and dislikes, whereas “coming home” sensitizes me to the raw, yet aesthetic animalness of myself…to the simpleness of what pleases a child, but yet the child-sense of an adult. What pleases my animal self. This may call up bearskin rugs, scratching posts, and abundant feasts, if you have a conventional sense of “animal” nature. But if you spend anytime observing, tracking, or relating to animals, truly relating, you know the extreme sensitivity and aesthetic sense that animals have – a delicacy of experiencing. We can train an animal to put up with terrible or domestic conditions, we can remove habitat and force them to adapt, but given the option they too choose that which creates the most wholeness in them and the life around them.

Once I realized which of two beautiful carpets in my home contained vastly more wholeness (surprisingly so!), I then began to notice that my cat would sit on that carpet almost exclusively, though it didn’t necessarily lie in a comfortable or convenient place. And seeing my cat on the carpet tended to make my cat more healthy seeming, more alive, more relaxed.

If you put all the puzzle pieces together, and remember that no indigenous people discriminate between art and function, no intact native people see ornament as “extra” or as not-innate to the function of what they make (bows, spoons, canoes, baskets, what-have-you), you’ll understand how this all pertains to the animalness of our true aesthetic selves, our ability to truly sense wholeness in the world.

So start asking questions. Start with one, right now. Ask it of the two  objects sitting next to you: “which one has more life? which one do I feel more “at home” with? which one do I like?”.

Don’t wait. Ask this now. Discoveries like this happen in no other moment than this one, right here.