The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell. We come to see the stars arranged as constellations, and as constellations they orient us, they give us something to navigate by, both for traveling across the earth and for telling stories, these bears and scorpions and centaurs and seated queens with their appointed places and seasons. Imagine the lines drawn between stars as roads themselves, as routes for the imagination to travel.
The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.
Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016
The word collision comes from the Latin collisio, collidere meaning "to dash or strike together, a compound of com meaning together and lædere meaning to "to strike". For some reason, my mind connects the unrelated but similar sounding Latin laetare, the singular imperative form of laetari meaning "to be joyful".
One thinks of collision as violent interaction, but it is not always so. The striking of a clapper against the inner wall of its bell, the creak of an old mill wheel as water, wood and stone converse within its slow, ceaseless and seemingly effortless rounding, the joyous meeting of rocks and falling water in a stream or waterfall, willows on the hill bending in flowing Tai Chi movement as they talk with the wind on a late summer day - all are collisions of a sort, but they are encounters without aggressive trappings, most of the time anyway.
As I tap away here this morning, I can hear my prayer flags (also called wind horses or lung-ta) fluttering in the garden. After so many years spent toiling in the entrails of large urban corporations, I sometimes have to remind myself that life's encounters are opportunities for listening, flowing and peaceful connection, not endless tourneys of collision, contention and at times, blazing fireworks. The prayer flags are excellent reminders.
The task is one of giving oneself up to life and the wind and learning how to dance with them, of bending and flowing like wind horses or bamboo rather than treating everything as an opportunity for shouting and head banging. Bamboo doesn't grow this far north, but my short mantra for the ongoing exercise is "bamboo". Between serious health issues and computer gremlins, there have been many times in recent months when I trotted out the mantra and used it - ardently.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
Mary Oliver from Sleeping in the Forest
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams