I have begun to wonder whether love, art, beauty are in fact not robust, but rather are stretched taut like a thin, but strong wire between the two mountains peaks of ecstasy and tragedy. Whether connection and creation are similarly arranged. And that perhaps the greatest souls were those balanced delicately yet precariously between the two, always one small step from ennui or despair on either side. The threat of life and limb, of emptiness, of failure, haunts the moments in between sublimity and exhilaration. Can you catch your breath and your balance before you fall? Can you create faster than things fall apart?
Those very same processes that caused continents to move, planets to form, leaves to unfurl, and mammals to seek shelter from the storm occur just as much within the human, even if ever more subtle. With the human, yes, something new came into the world. This cannot be denied. But how could not the very same processes which everywhere permeate the cosmos and take different forms not find themselves expressed in us as well? How arrogant to believe we were created ex nihilo? And why would we want to be? No, rather, we are a continuation and extension of all that came before. As Alan Watts said so eloquently, “We do not “come into” into this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”
Words are food and sex is eating and sunset raptures are the beauty of the bare shoulder of the freckled woman and the back of her legs are the silence of the misty forest grove and the cries of the baby are the frog’s croak at dawn and the playful cheetah kitten is the laugh of the lover and her eyes are the stars of the heavens and all our smiles are the same buds as the spring cherry blossom and our contradictions are the lotus flowers and war is the coyote eating the deer and the lion eating the wildebeast and it is why branding and lies are the march to the crematorium and malaria is the explosion of the bombs killing the peasants and their spotted goats.
It is all coming together and pulling apart without end, without a name, without explanation.
The remarkable implication is that to know the universe is self-knowledge and vice versa, to know oneself, is to find oneself in the heart of the cosmos.
There comes a moment when one must make a decision–one wrestled from the chaotic deep waters of our being–to simply walk across that wire. To walk as if there were no possibility of falling; walk assuredly of each step, firmly planted, one after another. All the while not forgetting that the abyss lies merely an inch to either side. And knowing that even in the tragic things are born, things are created, and the patient onward flow of things is ever more consecrated because of this.
How different from that other life, other way of being, awkwardly and guardedly pressing onwards with each step, unsure of one’s own pace and style, one’s own footing in the midst of things. That is–at most–a caricature of human life.
The twin peaks beckon.