Reflection 309: Wildness 9

August 22, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin     [Including 12 photos.]

At the mercy of tides, waves, wind, rain, snow, ice, and direct rays of the sun, salt water shores can be as wild as any place on Earth. Too, the interaction between air, land, and sea produces life in great variety and abundance. Which only enhances the wildness.

When I walk along the shore of the estuary, I walk the border between aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic worlds. Given the nature of tides, that border shifts back and forth, giving an advantage now to one, now to another form of life. That ebb-and-flood sponsors one of the wildest interactions on Earth, creating a great mixing zone where three worlds collide, revealing the life force that flows from the ever-shifting balance between life’s chief essentials, which we take for granted at our peril.

Shorelands offer a glimpse of life in the raw because everything is subject to change as driven by the shifting relationship between Earth, sun, and moon. Aside from inevitable change, there is nothing dependable here. Each instant must be seized on its own merit, never to be recreated. Life exists now, and now, and now, and so on forever.

Each of the following photographs transfixes one particular instant as if it were a butterfly on a pin, seemingly giving the lie to what I have been trying to say. But even I cannot retrace my steps along the shore in search of the same vision. You had to have been there in my shoes to see what I saw—these precise arrangements of kelp holdfasts, kelp blades, mussels, rockweed, barnacles, periwinkles, clamshells, sea stars, and crabs.

P1010736 96-shore-2P1010737 96-shore-3P1010738 96-shore-4P1010739 96-shore-5P1010742 96-shore-6P1010743 96-shore-7P1010787 96-shore-14 P1010748 96-shore-8P1010750 96-shore-9P1010758 96-shore-11P1010765 96-shore-13bP1010791 15-shore-15

When habitats change as rapidly as shorelands do, everything is up for grabs all the time. It takes concentrated mental effort to keep up with what’s happening. Which, I believe, is why our consciousness streams as it does from moment to moment, quickly outdating each passing impression. Danger or opportunity may lurk in the coming instant, so we have to follow the action as it develops. Even to the point of trying to anticipate what’s coming next.

As a result, our situations change like scenes in a film, this happening, then this, then again this. Succeeding situations flow into engagements with events such as incoming tides or walks along the shore. Conscious life is not a state of being aware but a process of making ourselves happen in keeping with the ever-changing situations we construct in our minds. So much happens in any given day, an accurate record of our conscious engagements would fill many volumes a day. Consciousness is the ultimate extreme adventure, bar none. Yet when asked what happened at school or at work today, we mumble, “Nothing much; just the usual.” As if the coming-in of today’s tide was not a unique event in the history of the world.

Blink, and you miss it. That is the nature of consciousness in the wild. The nature of situations, engagements, and life itself. Mine certainly; and I assume yours.

As always, my message is:  Stay engaged. I remain, y’r friend and brother, –Steve from this planet we share in common.

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