It is something of an out-of-body experience when it happens.
That’s probably putting it too grandly and maybe even diminishing a powerful piece of imagery.
I had two friends over for brunch today, something of a spontaneous last-minute invitation. We had a couple hours of good food (if I do say so myself), copious wine, and animated conversation. Much of what we talked about had to do with people that we knew in common and how friends come into one’s life for a time and then, through circumstances, drift away – sort of like the constant washing of waves up onto the beach which bring some grains of sand in for awhile and then take them away. Some grains do avoid being washed away for a long time.
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that I saw myself in conversation, listening and contributing, appearing no doubt to my friends as if I were fully engaged. And yet, I was not there. Not there all the time. For long stretches, I would be somewhere else watching the three of us. The somewhere else gave me the vantage point to gaze at the fourth chair at the table – the chair that should have been occupied, but was empty. The chair that was now permanently empty. The chair with the name tag, Bill.
Perhaps that place that I go on such occasions, and it does happen with some frequency, is not an out-of-body place where I’m hovering above watching myself in somewhat faux-engagement, but rather a very inside-of-body place, where I’m observing not with eyes but with heart.