Steve Halama, Unsplash
I go among the trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
And the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves me.
What I fear in it leaves me,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings and I hear its song. — Wendell Berry
“We must go far beyond any transformation of contemporary culture. … None of our existing cultures can deal with this situation out of its own resources.
We must invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive resources. Our cultural resources have lost their integrity. They cannot be trusted.
What is needed is not transcendence but ‘inscendence’.” — Wendell Berry
Humankind is multimodal, with levels of consciousness extending into the midsts of time. We usually live in a state of forced psychological integration, plagued by rogue energies just outside the gates of our little ego-fortresses. We only know about our various intelligences through dreams, intuition and bodily states. If we are shut off from nature, our depth of connection to our roots becomes even more limited.
I thank my lucky stars that I grew up in the country surrounded by animals, but that didn’t keep me from having a narrow vision of things. My efforts to correct my limitations lead to art, travel and philosophical thought, but I’m sure that will be an unfinished project when I die. There is a mystery few humans seem to penetrate. As a Zen poet says, those who profess to know, don’t know.
Creating anything is like holding up a mirror to ourselves. Our energies rise to the surface and show us who and what we are, if we are paying attention. I think of creativity in both narrow and broad senses, from artmaking all the way to a life on Planet Earth. We can’t help but create, and we can’t help but do things we wish we could erase in the process. We’re not omniscient.
I’ve done my share of stupid things in an attempt to have a life of depth and liveliness, but I reach an age now that is a gift many of my friends were not given. I don’t even consider myself old, though I’m sure any casual onlooker would disagree. I thought I would be wiser than I am at this age. I expected to learn more than I have.
Maybe I’ll be given more time than I anticipate. One can always hope.
If I were to start over knowing what I know now I might be more restrained, a tiny bit more cautious and circumspect, but I would still be trying to create out of the deepest part of me. I would still be trying to find the heart of love in both work and relationship. And I still would try to find a nugget of gold in myself that I might give it to the world.
- Anima Fire is my publication.