Poetry with a pledge

Happy day three of 2019, y’all.

I gave up making New Year resolutions years ago — never kept them. But, I hope (pledge) to write one poem each day this year. I write 30 poems during April for National Poetry Writing Month, so only 333 more to deal with (two done).

It may not be 365 good enough poems in one year, or ever. But, I’ll try. It’s my challenge.

I’ll share a few and deal with ideas or prompts where I discover them. I plan to keep writing essays and stories, and there is that A to Z blog thingy in April.

Remember, other than exercise and normal functions of life, I write stuff.

I’ve neglected reading and writing poetry most of my life. I want to catch up.

If I fail, I’ll own it and keep you advised.

You have a great year.

(The following poem is from my 2018 unpublished corpus.)

***

The Most Perfect Day

as I stepped onto the trail
I heard the noisy silence of the wild
rustling trees with brushing leaves and needles,
the grasses were dancing with the air
of a breathing Zepher-set movement,
spreading pollen and peace to all.
My footsteps, almost an invasion of the natural
calm.
of life and life and life.
soon, We were blessed by the flowing gift
of a quiet soft rain kissing Us,
My lips, My nose, face, and licking My shoulders.
trees began a dance joyfully in thanksgiving
for the sweet life-giving beverage of the gods.
I became dumbly transfixed
to My internal awareness
of My place
in the plan of the universe
and the circle of life and life and life.

me.

I am alive,
here,
now,
today,
with You
and the trees and the rain.
all are pleased to see Me,
to touch Us,
to be as much a part of Me as
I have become a part
of them,
of You,
of Us,
right here,
right now,

an almost most-perfect day – never alone
fully alive with life. and life
and,
I’m Alive!

©Bill Reynolds 12/30/2018

2019 has more future than past, not so I.
Life is lived forward, but look both ways to be safe.

Mind the gaps — accidents are the third leading cause of death.

Monday’s Poem

 

Contrasts in life

Listen to the sounds of the calming sea
Hear the cries of the sea birds
Marking the time of sunset, the end
Of another day, a time of contrasts.

See the beauty and feel the call
of tranquility and peace, calm and
the inevitable cycle of life.
Be the fish, the birds, be all creatures.

Let nature bless you with life,
Soon enough she will take you back,
Back to the beginning, to the circle.
Soon enough, life becomes death.

And death returns to new birth,
Let the contrast calm you.
Allow this sunset to mark you now as
did the sunrise mark you then.

Let the awe and beauty of nature
give you peace in the wonder,
in the contrast of day and night,
and in the inevitable cycle of life.

As we play our role, all
connected to the cycle
each doing our part for
birth, life, death, and rebirth.

© Bill Reynolds 7/23/2018

Look both ways, to the past, to the future, and to the future’s future.
Mind the gaps here and now.

Interdependence, Knowledge, and Belonging

Knowledge and Science

From the tiniest thing to the vast secrets of the universe, what will humans ever know? Will anyone ever correctly proclaim that all knowledge has been discovered and may be known or available to everyone? I doubt it.

Our galaxy – one of many

Science helps us understand our natural world better. But, science provides information only through descriptions from observations. With science, we may understand better what an earth quake is, or how to grow more soy beans, but ultimately the answers we receive from research are observations.

Microscopes, telescopes, laboratories, and other equipment for tests and measurements are among the tools used to make these observations. Yesterday’s scientific conclusions lead us to today’s information, and then to the changes we will read about tomorrow. It was scientific observation that convinced us the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth. It was also science that convinced us that was not the case.

The discoveries of science change. Does truth ever change? When I look around at our natural world, I see is what humans have done. Everything I see, while either part of nature or taken from it, was placed, caused, or permitted by humans—to a point. Other life forms may make their mark, but that will last only if humans permit it. When we don’t allow nature to progress or we interfere, it can be disastrous due to our limited knowledge. It may be science, but we don’t know everything and we can only explain so much.

Sensing and Nature

 

The spectacular trees

While nature is everywhere, my senses respond more strongly outdoors, in unfamiliar surroundings. I notice things less in my usual, everyday world. Change awakens my senses, whereas routine numbs them. Walking along a forest trail during a gentle, but persistent, rain provides stimulation that rejoins my surroundings with my own basic nature. It feels so right.

Seeing the trail, the roots of the magnificent trees, the green vegetation bouncing and dancing with falling raindrops, I feel aware and connected with the essence of life. It’s all here with me: sky, water, rich aromatic soil, and scree giving softness to my footsteps. Nature paints portraits of life and movement. I see how moisture mingles with the soil to send nutrients of life to plants and to quench thirsty animals, of which I am one.

Hearing the rain mesmerizes me as it falls where it will, on the leaves of trees and brush, onto the boulders and earth, and into the growing puddles and flowing streams. This is the sound of natural life – earth as it should be. The rustling sounds of birds and animals is alerting, as life deals in with nature’s wet gifts. And the rain. The glorious rain.

Feeling the soft, spongy earth beneath each step, I look down to see how the lovely wet soil now clings to my touch. I feel the rain pecking at me as it does upon the flowers. Animals respond to the natural bathing as a refreshing cleansing.

Touching the soft moss on a tree

My touch to the soft moss hugging tightly to the trees is a pleasant reminder of life on life, the natural interdependence within nature’s home. Against my face, and over my entire body, the rain penetrates cloths to caress my skin. I become one with the flora. I am refreshed, another being, pleased with our universe.

I can taste the freshness of the day. While rain on my head and face washes into my eyes, other drops find their way to my mouth, adding salt to the taste – the salt of the earth. I belong here.

A forest petrichor is the most pleasant of scents following rain. As the sounds and sights change with the gradually ceasing rain, and the forest begins to release the magical and glorious aroma of nature at work; life flourishes. If there is a heaven, it’s right here, right now, with me. I feel completely connected to nature. I yearn for this life, as it should be. I know this is life.

Awareness of Belonging

I become aware of the cosmic interconnectedness of everything. I know I have my place, fitting in with everything in the universe. The vastness of the cosmos finds the path and weaves its pattern through space, through time, and through me to the tiniest speck of galactic dust.

While science can provide words, descriptions, and explanations for everything that I sensed during my inspired walk in the forest rain, nothing can explain the deep, soulful feelings I experience when the vastness of nature communes with me. Conscious awareness.

Our senses perceive the environment as we discover nature and life.
Our sixth sense is that of belonging to the Universe.
Look both ways, discover the gaps, feel where we fit in.

What Don’t We Know?

Twin fairies: Fenix and Furie
Twin fairies: Fenix and Furie

Since the early 1970s, I’ve held to the opinion that basic human nature is good. I’m not sure why I think so. My conclusion is partly evidence-based for the good, but since so much in human history is to the contrary, many people disagree with me. We seem quite set on damaging ourselves and the world around us in ways that are evil.

I’m also unclear about why it should matter. No one knows the answer to our basic nature. It’s too complicated. But when I consider my personal basic nature, the one I was born with; is it good or evil? Or should I ask, was it? When did it start to change – before or after birth? What do you think your nature is? How do we see the basic nature of others? Good or bad? Are there bad seeds among us?

what-we-dont-know-3It is what it is. However, I wonder if our opinion on this matters more than the real answer. It’s like believing in a god – it either exists or it doesn’t. Our believing or doubting anything changes nothing about reality (placeboes or magic notwithstanding). Our opinion on this affects how we see the world, other people – and most importantly, how we see ourselves. Me, is the one thing in the universe that I have some control over—maybe.

To the point, I just finished reading Straw Dogs by John Gray. It’s unrelated to the 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie of the same name, or to the 2011 remake; both of which are, ironically, based on a novel with a different name (The Siege of Trencher’s Farm).

Note to self: book titles and author’s names matter.

what-we-dont-know-4The premise of Straw Dogs is that humans are animals like any other animal. Both Christianity and Humanism see humans as capable of controlling things much more than Gray and others seem to think we do. This is a philosophical book that challenges many basic assumptions about what it means to be human. While I don’t agree with some of what Gray presents, I admit that he makes astonishing points that lead me to question which of us is correct. Regarding several of his positions, I think he’s nuts. But I find many of his other arguments compelling. Reading John Gray made me think, wonder, and contemplate – not the meaning of life, but its nature.

Are we animals? For an excellent article on this, click here.

Is our nature much different than it has been for centuries? Have we changed significantly in the thousands of years since our first existence as homo sapiens? Are we any different from other animals in terms of what happens to us?

Humans have been in existence much as we are now for about 200,000 years. For about the last 6,000 years, we have been the social creatures we know ourselves to be. How do we fit into our environment? Do we belong here? How long will we survive as a species? Are we masters of our own destiny any more than any other animal? Are we doomed to destruction by our own actions?

I’ve seldom thought about it, but Professor Gray makes this point right off. His position seems to be that the last time we had it right, we were hunter-gatherers. I tend to agree. Gray begins with this basic assumption regarding evolution and religious culture.

“If Darwin’s discovery had been made in a Taoist or Shinto, Hindu or animist, culture it would very likely have become just one more strand in its intertwining mythologies. In these faiths humans and other animals are kin. By contrast, arising among Christians who set humans beyond all other living things, it triggered a bitter controversy that rages on to this day.” ~ John Gray, Straw Dogs

Accordingly, Gray says that Humanist’s believe that through progress, humans can be free of the limits that burden other animals. That by using our knowledge, we can control our environment and flourish as we never have before. Gray also has an interesting take on history; he seems to say it has little or no meaning.

what-we-dont-know-5

I like this book because it deals with some aspects of the dark side of human nature. Interestingly, most of us know about the Holocaust, the WWII effort by Nazis to commit genocide and eradicate Jews. How many other genocides (or politicides) in human history can you name? Gray proposes, with evidence, that genocide is “as human as art or prayer.” Apparently, we are not very nice to each other, to other living creatures, or to nature in general. Along with others of similar philosophies, John Gray is talking about humans in a general sense.

The question for me is: how does all this square with my position that our basic nature is good? Maybe the answer doesn’t matter because he undermines so many of my humanist leanings, thus shattering my position that humans are special. I’ll retreat to my favorite elusion from Hamlet: “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

There is much we don’t know. But this Zen Proverb meme says it for me.

what-we-dont-know-2

Whatever our nature is, we share that truth with each other.
Let’s live our lives in awe of nature by embracing both sun and rain,
all flora and fauna,
and our fairies — Fenix and Furie.

Life is good and so are we, but mind the gaps and look both ways.