On having a structure and willing yourself to go beyond that frame

"I never saw Burroughs without a tie," he said, "and Paul, too, abhorred sloppiness. He lived within the frame, and the frame held everything together for him. If you don't have a frame, you fly off in all sorts of directions. But inside the frame you are secure; you can observe what happens. (...)"
A young man got on with a boombox blasting a haunting and undulating Ramadan tune and, as the bus started again, held the box to his chin and sang in high, soulful tones, his gaze cast into the distance. I could not tell which words came from the box and which from his mouth, and I was aware suddenly of how little I understood the spiritual tides surging around me. I was not in control; I was outside the frame.

In time, of course, I would come back within the frame, back to my familiar habits of observing and writing. But right then, on the bus, I was learning how rich it is to venture into that strange territory of the mind where you are bewildered and vulnerable -- lost, even. I just listened to the music.    

***From "Under the Sheltering Sky," Bill Donahue, The Best American Travel Writing 2004 (highlights, mine)

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