Is it possible to read about, or listen to, the experiences of others, without filtering them through, or comparing them to, one’s own? I don’t suggest that an unbiased comparison would be of lesser or no value. In essence, that asks the same, or nearly the same, question: Is it possible to consider one’s own experiences non-judgmentally, as other than a series of successes and failures, or a source of various degrees of pride, regret, shame, and embarrassment? If it’s not possible, then we need proceed no further. If it is possible, a vast new world comes into view. But if it’s not possible, that begs another question: Does it only seem impossible, because we’re distracted or lack the patience to go into it? If we can answer none of these questions, or simply don’t care to try, what then? Will we spend the rest of our days superimposing our lives and experiences on the lives and experiences of others, regardless of our mutual loss? If our experiences are so important and meaningful to us, how can we think less of each other’s? Is that really the kind of people we are, or want to be?
July 12, 2020
The Observer Observed
My thoughts have been everywhere this morning: waterfalls, mountains, vineyard rows, barns, cemeteries, casinos, railroad crossings, fields, birds, clouds, stacks of firewood, country roads, cool mornings and the first day of school, old desk drawers full of papers, mirrors on the wall, oak trees, city sidewalks, fig jam, roosters crowing and hens scratching in the yard, hands, dusty beetles, stop signs, neighbors, rain, unanswered telephones, empty boats rocking on the water, lemon groves, faulty wiring, mothballs, old worn out coats, church bells, the last rites, cable cars, insurance claims, laughter, and even thoughts themselves and the very thinking of them, as well as the miraculous observation of their rise and fall, and of the observer itself, the observer in the act of observing, the observer observed ad infinitum, each in turn ridiculed and amused, certain and torn, satisfied and overwhelmed, a candle that steadily burns, that shines its light in the name of stars, that knows not when its flame goes out and imagines its eternal presence, that is the light, that is the world, that is the moment as it was accidentally conceived, blessed, embraced, and poignantly misunderstood, that is forever blind and extravagant in its grace, that follows the order set down, that is first, last, and always alone, that is identical in its need, that is no one, that is you, that is me.
Songs and Letters, October 10, 2006
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