Monday, November 07, 2016

The beauty in brevity

Earth Writer pointed me at an article which I found very engrossing, about a mature couple who are confirmed… collapseniks, you might say. They do a lot of canning. They run a personal rabbit farm – for practical reasons. Their meals are becoming more and more of a domestically sustainable nature. They are learning to live in a manner that is rich in spirit and texture and which can be maintained, if necessary (only a matter of when, they would say) come a time devoid of electricity, commerce or infrastructure. You might immediately comfort yourself by thinking them freaks who can’t possibly be right. And you’d be unwise. They’ve had dignified careers which have well prepared them for such forecasting. And the article demonstrates their enlightenment, and their noble approach; their aplomb. 

I want to share my response to Earth Writer, and then add something:

Wow. That's a great article. Honestly, none of the ideas there are new to me but it was put together so well, bringing so many relevant aspects together in a concise effective manner - and with much grace.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the young people I know, some as young as [Aqualad], who do not believe they have a future. It makes me cry. But I've been thinking about our impermanence - whether we maybe squeeze out a few more generations or not - or whether by great fortune some semblance of humanity survives for a couple billion years on Earth or even migrates beyond and survives long eons throughout the galaxy or universe - regardless - our kind will exist for a limited time, however long or short, and then be done. And sometimes I think, Well so what? The beauty in anything is magnified by its brevity. I learned that a long time ago; one of many lessons I sometimes forget. Planet Earth is still a paradise for now. It is still a heaven for now and now is what matters most. I'm grateful I can see it that way and would rather see it that way for a moment then to live forever and never have that sight.

My praise for the article was understated. It actually delivered a couple rather complex conclusions in such an elegant way as to make them more swiftly understood than in the more clunky ways that I have handled the same material. So I am grateful to have learned how to express myself a little differently on these topics going forward.

What I wanted to add to my response but chose to save for later discussion is this:

In a very real sense, life is eternal, for the simple reason that we do not remember our birth nor experience our death. We have no opportunity to reflect on our lost life. We are gone before we know it. To paraphrase Eckart Tolle, It is always the now, and the now is always experienced by the living. In that sense, we are eternal. 

I have long looked at the death of individuals in this light: Death is no tragedy. It is inevitable. We tend to treat it as a tragedy largely because a functioning assumption of personal immortality gives us a marvelous excuse to live without any urgency to accomplish anything real; to instead live with an absence of meaning or with only the asinine double-think "meaning" perpetrated by today’s sad withered remnants of religious guidance. Death is not the tragedy. Failure to live with presence is the tragedy. Death only documents that sad conclusion. For most people (around here anyway), the tragedy was their shallow living experience; not their death.

When I’ve cried at funerals it has not been for the demised but for empathy of those around me.

Am I digressing? The point is that all life is rare and short. Lately I have looked at it this way:

With the understanding that humanity is temporary, as are all things, its duration is not very relevant. All known life has been brief; so fleeting, and yet at the same time eternal.

As individuals, the universe, life, the human race: these things are not ours to control. At this stage of evolution we can’t even control our own individual minds! Our minds are prisoners of external causality. No, we are primarily here as a witness. That is the power of our beautiful and tragic consciousness. And as a witness, consider this:

If we had had some pre-birth awareness and choice; if we had been told, “You shall be born a human being on planet Minerva!* In what time period of the human experience would you like to exist?” One might look at the chart, and note the beginning, the middle and the end, and say, “I would like to be born here, near the end. That is what I think would be interesting to experience. That is where times might be tough. That is where I might have much opportunity to be useful to my fellow humans.”

That the human experience should end is no tragedy. That we might perhaps be living near that end-time is no tragedy.

That is not to say that we should invite destruction. That is not to say that we should not be wise and seek survival and harmony by seeking wisdom and to embrace change.

There just need not be despair. 


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