“What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.”
– from “Come Into Animal Presence” by Denise Levertov
I started this blog in order not to lose my way. Perhaps that was a bit ambitious. I do still get lost regularly. I’ve given up trying to change this; it’s part of my way of being in the world. The task, then, is to learn patience, something the Photographer reminds me of regularly, mostly through example, as he is by far the more patient of the two of us. There is a need to accept that it will likely take me longer than expected to get where I think I’m going, and to acknowledge that my destination is nearly always different than what I thought it would be. Someday I may actually learn to be grateful for this.
The old stories have it that our world, and hence, we ourselves, are a product of the union between Sky and Earth. The masculine sky is associated with ideas, intellect and thought. The feminine earth is associated with practicality, fertility and stability. In the Vedic tradition, Earth Mother Prithvi is also known as that which holds everything. Being human, then, means we carry the genes of both father and mother. The Earth is what holds the idea of us.
On the last morning of a recent backpacking trip, my friend and I woke up before sunrise, bruised, blistered, wet, freezing cold and having barely slept, in order to have enough time to cover the ground we needed to cover for the day. Nothing had gone as planned (though thankfully, for once, I wasn’t lost). When we left our shelter we looked up into the most clear, beautiful expanse of stars, like nothing we had seen on the rest of the trip, which until then had offered mostly cold, rain and clouds. We needed that clarity so desperately; it was what we had gone into the woods to find in the first place. We stood there looking up for as long as we could before setting out for the day.
Humans have been looking to the stars for guidance and navigation as far back as we can remember. It’s there we find direction and clarity, all the things associated with sky and air. But the course must still be charted on the firm ground of the Earth. This is not a tragedy. It’s half our inheritance.