We’re all — trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship.
Because life is network, there is no “nature” or “environment,” separate and apart from humans. We are part of the community of life, composed of relationships with “others,” so the human/nature duality that lives near the heart of many philosophies is, from a biological perspective, illusory. We are not, in the words of the folk hymn, wayfaring strangers traveling through this world.
Nor are we the estranged creatures of Wordsworth’s lyrical ballads, fallen out of Nature into a “stagnant pool” of artifice where we misshape “the beauteous forms of things.” Our bodies and minds, our “Science and Art,” are as natural and wild as they ever were.
We cannot step outside life’s songs. This music made us; it is our nature.
—David George Haskell
Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.
Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.
When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it’s been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
When I read the Robert Bly poem this morning, I realized that yes, I do need to change my way of thinking. Autumn is the perfect time for magical thinking and being (according to the witches, the veil between the worlds is thin this time of year; what better time for magic?). It’s the perfect time for delight and wonder. It’s the perfect time for walks. A big thank you to everyone who has participated in Walktober so far. If I haven’t been around to visit your walk yet, I hope to be there soon. It’s been a busy week. I’m getting ready to go off into the mountains for a few days (maybe) so it might be next week before I join you.
If you haven’t done your walk yet, or you’re still thinking about it and wondering where to link up, the post is here. If you drop a link or pingback elsewhere, don’t worry. I’ll find it. Officially, you have until the 25th to get your walk in and submit your link/pingback, but I’m always happy to extend it if someone needs a bit more time for their walk or to get their post done.
Sunrise today was glorious. If you’ve been coming around here for the last year or so, you know that I’ve had a regular morning yoga practice going for a while. A form of Surya Namaskar, if you will. Most people associate Surya Namaskar with a specific vinyasa or set of poses, but it doesn’t have to be that. Surya (“sun”) Namaskar (“salutation”) is the practice of an honorable greeting of the sun at sunrise. Chanting (the Gayatri Mantra is traditional), prayer, movement (if you want), and meditation can be part of the practice. For a while I was singing the Cat Stevens’ (Yusuf Islam) song Morning Has Broken because it felt right to me to sing it. I later realized it was in my head because the Church in the Shire (the church down the road — not it’s real name) plays it on their carillon at 6 AM. It turns out it was a hymn before it was a pop song. I still sing it once in a while. There was a catbird joining me in this song for a few weeks (or else she was complaining about my off-key singing). My new personal practice, which is a big practice compared to what I was given in the past, includes some chanting/invocations that I am learning.
Some time ago (literally 410 days ago), I embarked on a 1,000 Day Project. It was a challenge (and a course) offered by Meghan Genge. I had been following along for part of the time as she wrote her Morning Pages for 1,000+ days. I do like a big challenge and so, I decided the best thing for me would be Morning Practice rather than Morning Pages. The practice didn’t have to be perfect but would include elements of the personal practice my teacher gave me when I didn’t have time to do it all. Most days, I’ve had the time. I’m up early enough and up until recently, my personal practice was relatively short. Meditation, for 20 minutes, was the longest part of it.
I had already established a regular practice before beginning my 1,000 Day Project, but I have no idea for how long (a few months, I think) so I began at the beginning with a Day 1. Today is day 410. The interesting thing is that the numbers or the goal have not played a very important role in this endeavor. As with all things that are good for the body-mind, my practice is consistent because even on the days I don’t feel like it, I do it. I continue to do it for many reasons, some more profound or devotional than others, but the one that might stand out for many people is that it sets my day up in a way that I’m less ruffled and frazzled by the goings-on of life, the universe, and everything when I’ve done my morning practice. I’m not saying I don’t get ruffled and frazzled. I do. It’s that I’m less likely to spin out and let the frazzling or ruffling take over (or overtake me). A morning practice has created a kind of calm center (the eye of the storm in this stormy world where terrible things sometimes happen).
Neither anguish nor the elation that love or art can bring about are devalued by understanding some of the myriad biological processes that make them what they are. Precisely the opposite should be true: Our sense of wonder should increase before the intricate mechanisms that make such magic possible. Feelings form the base for what humans have described for millennia as the human soul or spirit.
— Antonio Damasio
I should probably keep this short and spend a bit of time catching up with y’all. Thank you so much for dropping by today to look at the flowers and the sunrise. Let’s meet out at the Point for sunset this evening. It’s scheduled for 6:18 PM. I’ll come early if I can. I’d like to take a walk. It’s warm today, in the mid-70’s. You might want a jacket. It’s beginning to get a little chilly once the sun retires for the evening.
Please be safe and be well.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,886) Sunrise light and colors and sounds. 1,887) Watching the moon as she got caught in a loblolly pine last night on her way up. As I wrote on my IG post this morning, she rested there for a while before continuing her journey upwards. 1,888) Merril, for finishing the story of last night’s moon. 1,889) A red-shouldered hawk who visited this morning. 1,890) The way the sunlight shimmers on the leaves of the trees.