Friday, March 02, 2007

Mama Says Om - Static

It's about balance and change in my book, and not about staleness, sluggishness, paralysis or inertia.

The word static comes from a Latin word staticus, thence from the Greek statikos meaning weight and statos meaning standing, and nowhere is there any reference to change or the lack thereof. In mundane conversation, static is something else entirely, and we use the word pejoratively as a synonym for frozen, unchanging, constant, deadlocked, fixed or stationary. Indeed, static shares common roots with stagnant, a word with connotations which are usually anything but favourable.

Use the word static as we may, for students of science, particularly electrostatics, static does not necessarily mean fixed or unchanging. When such scientists say that things are static or existing in stasis, they often mean that the objects being studied are in a state of balance, one in which equal and opposing forces cancel each other out, resulting in a state of perfect equilibrium. This is a bad thing???

Some of nature's best entertainment is created by cosmic imbalances, like the aurora borealis (or northern lights or merry dancers) generated in an unequal contention between the solar winds of old Helios and the earth's magnetic field. The beastie commonly called static electricity (which makes one's hair stand on end on those wild summer nights when the sky is painted with lightening) arises from another imbalance, that between positive and negative electrical charges up there in the blue.

Evolutionary biologists use the word static to describe an interval in which there is little or no noticeable development in a given species or ecosystem over time - a situation in which evolutionary lineages (e.g. the prehistoric coelacanth, horseshoe crabs, tortoises and great monitor lizards like the Komodo dragon) continue to exist and even thrive for eons without any discernible physical change or adaptation. Might that not just mean that the Old Wild Mother got it right the first time around?

Are we caught in a web of "stuckness" which holds us in mucilaginous thrall, or do we exist in transformative motion and flowing ever onward? On viewing the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux in the 1940's, Pablo Picasso exclaimed that humanity had not learned a thing in twelve thousand years (he was about five thousand years short in his estimation), but I don't think he was saying that we are all static, stuck and unchanging. He was simply thunderstruck by the visionary magnificence he had witnessed that day, and by the indisputable evidence that we have been on a journey together for a very long time.

Watching the seasons turn in the highlands, I know right down to my blood and bones and marrow that we are anything but static, and the same goes for the natural order of which we are a miniscule element. We are works in progress, all moving in a great circle or spiral. When we cultivate stillness (apparent stasis) in our pursuit of wisdom, growth, connection and creativity, the great work continues, and what we are seeking may be stasis in the true sense of the word - sacred balance. We may look as though we are not doing anything when we are curled up in meditation, painting or writing haiku, watching our children and grandchildren sleep or lost in the rapt contemplation of a tree, but we are never more fluid and evolving than at such times, and they are to be cherished.

Written (very badly) for the electrifying mamas at Mama Says Om.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, not written very badly. Written very beautifully, and very accurately. Hmmm. Something for me to ponder when I take on my "static" role as caregiver with so much to do, and so little time to be fluid.