To protect my own health I’ve actively avoided stress for the past few years, although certain situations (home renovations, moving, anyone?) haven’t always cooperated. Nevertheless there is a difference between walking along a path and enjoying sunshine, birdsong, glimpses of ocean, burgeoning wildflowers, and shutting out the reality of the world we live in which we have helped to create. Young Greta Thunberg has shouted out to the world that our home is on fire, if we hope to save anything we must act, and act now. Even an old grandfather snoozing under the village tree would, I am sure, wake up and run to help save what he could if his or his neighbour’s hut was on fire, or if a flood was about to drown his village.
I do find this mitochondrial thing really interesting. Life is so miraculous and thinking about the organelles in the cells, I’m awestruck. Life forms billions of years old have congregated and become self aware organisms.
When first I wake to rosy dawn, fresh from dreams of heaven, all life ahead of me and all things possible, I see myself an epic: great, a world-encompassing story of heroic deeds and tales of gods. When my days begin to lengthen I bethink myself an ode: still heroic, honouring bravery and great power, but brought down to size, fitting the measure of one human life. As I grow into callow youth, into the sweet Elizabethan spring of life, I am enchanted by the lyric and believe if I can be a sonnet with one clear thought, whole and complete like a full-blown rose, that will be accomplishment enough. In middle life the wind changes and scatters the petals of my verse. I lose metre and rhyme and blurt out only lines here and there of free verse or poetic prose, stumbling and stuttering like gunfire on a death-strewn field, all light and possibilities lost, or driven helpless in a sinking raft against a rockbound, twisting riverbank, a desolate threnody. Standing alone upon this shattered field in twilight’s calm, the rapids safely shot and I still alive, I think perhaps I am an elegy, honouring what has gone before, the fallen dreams, ideals that died, all trampled now in mud and mire and blood, or drowned beneath a foaming wave. But even as I move to close my book, the darkening shadows blotting out my words, I turn to take another look. In a black sky stars blink on, planets in their stately dance proceed, the moon smiles with a face lit by the hidden sun. Perhaps my life has been a paean: a hymn of praise, of thanks for being. I’ll spend the night thus, singing praises of the power that moves the stars and wait with certainty the coming dawn.
First written 29.7.2007/edited 21.4.2019
The fire in Notre Dame Cathedral may be a wake up call to humanity. It’s being pointed out that our natural world is figuratively, in some cases literally, going up in flames as habitat is destroyed, species go extinct, humans pollute and change the entire globe. In smaller ways we willingly destroy our own built heritage, the legacy of a past which is being discarded and stamped out at an alarming rate. We are not even educating our children properly any more; they are losing the heritage which is their birthright, the wisdom accumulated by humans over many millennia.
On my way to church at 8 a.m. today I saw people already in line waiting to be let into the Celtic Corner pub. I wonder what Saint Patrick would have made of our strange way of celebrating his life?
I am moving into history. When my aunt passed away recently it dawned on me that I’m now the oldest member of this particular branch of my family. This morning I consider what this really means and know the inexorable tide of history shall bear me away as it has taken all the others who went before. Where do we go, we scraps of flotsam drifting in and out on the tides of life? For a lifetime I’ve been asking the questions, who am I, why am I here, what’s it all about? And perhaps, like Wordsworth, am further away from answers than when I was a child. Time, now, to think about returning to the well from which I sprang.
To welcome death with open arms seems strange
and yet the slow decay of strength and wit
is horror greater to sustain than breath.