No disrespect to bacon, but the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever made in my own kitchen is a properly-sieved chicken stock. That’s what I spent Saturday night doing. For a six-hour period, I stood in my kitchen at intervals to stir a stockpot full of bones and vegetables, then I scooped each piece of bone, vegetable, and other mess out, and then I strained it with a cheesecloth and a sieve until the liquid I poured into Gladware to be frozen for later use was a shimmering, straw-colored gold.
I’d made chicken stock before. I’ve been doing it since several apartments ago, but the thing about stuff in your freezer is that you can’t move it across the country with you. Ever since I moved to Seattle (five months ago can you even), I’ve been freezing bones from each chicken I roast until I had enough to make more stock.
This stock was different from the others because I sieved it. Which is what you’re supposed to do, anyway, but I’d always been lazy and never in possession of a proper sieve (an extra large colander will not work in this case) or cheesecloth. But now I have them, and I sieved it, and there were no lumps of fat or herb leaves or anything in it and it’s the most gorgeous thing ever! I’m going to make mashed potatoes with it tomorrow night! I am the most exciting person alive!
Making stock – making any long-cooking, process-driven thing, actually – is sort of a meditative exercise. I say this because I’m not the kind of person to perform actual meditative exercise like yoga or TM, but this doesn’t mean I’m incapable of concentration and that concentration can’t exist elsewhere. There’s something about the act that dials down all of the other unnecessary chatter in your head. Forty five minutes passed like five, and by the time I was done, I thought that I should probably get into that book about astral projection I’ve been holding for the past few weeks.
First, though, a very roundabout explanation of what I think about astral projection:
When I told my family that I was an atheist, they reacted about as normally as you’d expect lifelong churchgoers to react. They weren’t shitty about it, but they weren’t overly supportive, either. In fact, they seemed mostly excited to tell me all the ways in which I was wrong.
My mom sniffed and told me that no matter what I said, prayer worked, and so did group prayer, and that I simply didn’t know any better yet.
My dad asked me the blanket question that religious-because-they’re-too-spooked-to-be-otherwise Christians love to ask, which is “But what about the miracles? You can’t explain away the miracles.” Actually, yes, I can (“they’re not real”), and in case you were wondering, that’s probably the most asinine question to ask an atheist if you’re trying to win them back into the fold.
My sister thought about it for a second, shook her head, and asked “But what about the afterlife? What about…you know.” By “you know” she was referring to the…um, tendency? Of our family to, um, do things that you wouldn’t normally associate with someone (like me) who has renounced any possibility of a deity. I find this hard to explain without sounding like a flaky asshole, but basically, my family can see…spirits. And communicate with them. And dream lucidly, and prophetically, and it sounds really strange but it’s so normal that I didn’t even know it was a thing thing until I got older and started reading about it. So basically, it’s a family thing, everyone’s a little bit different in their perceptions, and it’s so not a huge deal that when my sister asked about it, she meant to ask how I could turn my back on something that had so definitely happened.
To which I said, “I don’t see how God is necessary to any of that.”
Also, from what little of what I know about astral projection so far, many of the phenomena I already experience in sleep, dreams, and the in-between phase have merit in the field (what merit there can be, anyway).
And this is what I had to keep in mind when I picked up this book on astral projection. It’s not something that I completely believe is real (or at least, that the way it’s been described is accurate) and my brain has developed a natural reaction to be skeptical, but considering my background and what I know is possible, astral projection is something that interests me, and if I can get a book on it by the field’s main guy for $1.00, why not read into it?
Boy, do people who are into astral projection like to hear themselves talk. I feel like calling up the author and going “YEAH, I get it, quit fucking repeating yourself and get to the good shit.” Perhaps it was reading about mind splits for the fourth time in two chapters that I started to get sleepy, but eventually I was so tired that thoughts like “I’m just gonna go to sleep and astral project, that’ll show him” started making sense.
Result: I did not astrally project. I just fell asleep, although it was that really interesting (to me) sleep where I know I’m doing it as it happens, because I recognize that the thoughts I have aren’t coming from my logical, awake brain and the sensations I feel are less about lying there and more about falling, sinking, or being submerged in water.
And possibly that’s something like astral projection, I just haven’t been able to stay awake long enough to find out.