446. For My Eyes Only

March 2, 2015

Early on in childhood, I developed a strong sense of what was family fare and what was not. If my parents had never mentioned or even alluded to such things, that made me hesitant to make the first move. If my brothers hadn’t spoken up, I was sure to keep mum. There was a strong code of forbidden topics based on conjectures that my parents didn’t want to hear about matters that they couldn’t or didn’t want to talk about. Mimicry was safe; taking the initiative was scary.

In my early years I had a recurring nightmare, which I never shared with anyone, not inside my family, not outside. It was my secret.

In the dream, I was slowly slipping toward a glow in the lower right of my visual field, the rest of the field being a featureless black. The thrust of the dream was a deep, rhythmical beat in the background, relentless force moving my body, and a strong sense of helplessness in resisting movement that was not of my doing. When I woke up, I would be crying.

I could feel that dream coming on with a kind of pressure and sense of dread. I suffered that same dream periodically (weekly, monthly?) for several years, then after some time I realized I wasn’t having it anymore, but could still recall the details and the intimate horror at will. What sticks with me today is the feeling of that dream coming on, my being helpless to stop it. Relentless dread, that’s what I felt. Of being in the power of something I couldn’t understand because it wasn’t like anything else in my experience.

Later, when I was several years older, I had another recurring nightmare that conveyed much the same feeling. I could tell from the opening scene how it would play out, and, again, I couldn’t stop it.

In that second dream, I would crawl under a brick wall at the back of a building into a dark room with a pitted, earthen floor. From that room I would go into the streets at night when everyone was asleep, enter the house of a stranger, go upstairs into a bedroom and kill (I’m not sure by what means) a sleeper picked at random. I escaped by retracing my route back into the earthen-floored room and then crawling under the wall into daylight.

Two feelings always accompanied that second dream: the horror of what I was about to do—and then actually did—and the fact that no one would ever know that I had done it. It was my guilty secret.

Once begun, both dreams unfurled true to form, and I could not avoid the fear of what was sure to happen. I mention the two dreams together because they both incited the same feeling of helplessness and horror in facing into their respective inevitabilities. I was trapped and couldn’t help myself.

Looking back, I see both dreams as variations on the same theme. It was their unwinding to a sure end that they had in common, though the details were very different. I see the first dream as meant for a younger audience, the second for an audience familiar with village life and language. In the first the action was done unto me; in the second I was the actor responsible for what I did.

I never told anyone in my family about such dreams. They were for my eyes only, a note passed from me to myself.

Writing this post brings to mind another secret from early adolescence that I kept from my family. When I was a sophomore in Seattle’s Roosevelt High School, we’d often drive into the Sierras on a Sunday afternoon to visit Snoqualmie Falls, Lake 22, or some other scenic destination. On one return trip on a sunny spring day, my father let me practice my driving skills on the winding, hilly road through the mountains, steep cliffs rising on the right, an abrupt chasm dropping beyond the roadside barrier on the far left side of the road.

I remember realizing in one instant as I drove that if I made an abrupt turn to the left and crashed through the steel barrier, my entire family, including two dogs in the back, would be wiped-out. It was a moment of realizing the responsibility I had in my hands in learning to drive. I was horrified to find myself thinking such a thought.

Needless to say I didn’t turn the wheel on impulse, but the thought did occur to me. I’ve been a reasonably competent driver ever since. But that sudden connection in the depths of my brain when I was fifteen was both a realization and a warning. Had I been more of a risk taker, I might have veered briefly into the other lane just to give my family a scare they would never forget, reminding them of the truely intimate power I held over their lives.

I see child soldiers and young terrorists armed with automatic weapons as succumbing to such impulses because the brutal climate in which they live paints pulling the trigger in a favorable light that differentiates heroes from losers. Getting past that point in my growing up has made all the difference. We see every day in the news stories about those who swing the other way when opportunity arises.

Perhaps unwittingly, families convey nonverbal attitudes that are the forge in which children are worked into the shapes they will assume as mature adults. As I said in my previous post, families matter. Children learn to talk in a family setting; they also learn when to stay silent.

Advertisements

As bipedal animals, our remarkable, weight-bearing hind limbs support much of our wayfaring, freeing our forelimbs for all manner of clever manipulations for which we are duly famous.

While our legs shuffle, walk, lope, stride, run, hop, leap, jump, skip, dance and generally carry us ahead in a forward direction, our arms, hands, and fingers can hold, carry, throw, catch, pull, push, press, twist, hit, point, tweak, rub, caress, clap, and make a great many other finely-adjusted movements and gestures in accomplishing the myriad tasks we assign ourselves to do every day.

Think of the physical discipline required of ballet dancers, baseball players, musicians, mechanics, assemblers, crafters, artists, chefs, carpenters, jewelers, surgeons, and all who work with trained arms, hands, and fingers. Now think of the thousands of hours of practice, rehearsal, and refinement they put into acquiring the skills they need to create the civilized world we take so for-granted as if being born to it meant it has existed forever just as it is.

No, the world we live in today is largely made and maintained by human hands. Hands consisting of bones, joints, muscles, and tendons all directed and coordinated by human minds that intentionally will them to perform as they do. Here is the crux of our loops of engagement, the behaviors we exhibit as appropriate to the situations we get ourselves into.

This is the leading edge of our intent to get through the day and survive. Every perception, judgment, and action leads to this, our daily performance. Our engagement with life itself by which we prove ourselves worthy.

Just having that thought gives me a jab to the chest, leaving me breathless. It’s that simple? The commotions and alarms, the furor, the folly, the turmoil—all come down to this? Our painstaking engagement in doing whatever it is that we do?

Me, sitting at my computer, leaning back in my chair, staring at my winking cursor at the end of this very sentence? This is what it is all about? The point of my life? Me, sitting here, fingers poised over my keyboard, deciding what to write down whatever it is my happiness dictates?

Yes, in my case, this is precisely the point. I have shut everything else from my mind. My life experience leads to this moment of wonderful tension. What now? After eighty-two years, what do I do in this exact instant?

Picture a life made of millions of such instants. Cumulatively preparing for, adding to, and shaping this particular one. The evidence of my survival for those millions of instants tells me I must be doing something right. As a wayfarer, I have made and followed a course for myself that leads here.

The challenge I take from this instant is to decide how I am to guide my arms, hands, and fingers to type what it is I have to say. Not want to say, but have to say because my entire life is balanced just here at this point in time when I am about to change the configuration of the world with my next stroke of a key. Spiritual guidance is what it takes, in the form of a metaphorical helmsman at the inner wheel of myself.

These thoughts may give you a sense of the urgency that drives me to engage in this task I have assigned to myself by living the life I have lived. To get down on paper my thoughts about how my mind works. The only mind I have access to, which I can only take as a fair example of minds somewhat similar to those of my family and friends.

The recent deaths of my two brothers, both elder and younger, leave me as the last man standing—the last wayfarer—of the generation born to our father and mother, who, too, were survivors as proof they must have taken the right path, as their progenitors must have taken theirs, all the way back to beginning times.

You see how I have fleshed out the instant when I caught myself gazing at the cursor. One instant leads on to the next, and that to the next. Thought follows thought, action follows action, keystroke follows keystroke. The necessary order of my life appears before me, more discovered than planned.

I put myself at the leading edge of my existence, and that edge cuts decisively ahead into the unknown and unpredictable. I barely know what I am thinking and writing. What I do know is that I have to be true to the sense that emerges within me when I put myself in this place.

What I am trying to do is trust the life force that is driving me ahead right now. To listen to that force and write down what it dictates. Except it doesn’t dictate, it passes the burden to my fingers and tells them to get busy and write what they want. Which turns out to be the words you are reading as they flow from the situation my mind is facing just now.

My life force is engaging your life force one-on-one. My mind is speaking to your mind. There’s only the two of us together in this instant. Engaging in our own way. Being wholly ourselves. Separate as individuals in different black boxes, but equal one to the other as joined in common endeavor. Trying to understand what is going on in our respective minds. Caught up in that challenge. Giving our utmost to that cause.

 

Mind cannot be inconsistent with the forces that drive the material universe because that’s the meaning of is, to be or exist as a feature of the All, which includes the affective and figurative as well as the material. Mind is the realest thing there is. Just try living without one!

The beauty of mind is that it gives us both a personal self and a world, invites us to participate, to engage, to selectively peer through the walls of our personal black boxes, to hear, to touch, to taste, to smell. And always to remember what we’ve done.

Without mind there’d be no atoms or molecules to speculate about, to chase down, to combine in new ways; no cell parts, no cells, no tissues, no organs, no organisms, no habitats, no living systems, no culture, no art, music, theology. No sorrow. No joy.

Without mind at the heart of our respective black boxes there’d be nothing at all because, quite simply, we would have no way of knowing anything about whatever was around us. It takes a mind to know anything at all, including how the brain “works.”

The physical brain knows nothing at all, as a car engine or nuclear reactor knows nothing. As artificial “intelligence” knows nothing.

It takes a mind to convert rival signals in adjacent cortical columns into a sense of spatial depth before two eyes peering from different perspectives a few inches apart. A mind to learn through trial and error, discrepancies, disparities, and simple mistakes. A brain can compare signals, but mind is a virtual quality residing in relationship between signals, a quality arising from such a comparison, but not reducible to it, as humans are not reducible to the mud or stellar refuse they are made of.

In our minute portion of the universe, it is our privilege to engage courtesy of the power of reaching out with our minds. No minds, no awareness, no universe to be part of. Instead of grousing that the mind is a fiction, a myth, an illusion, an impossible speculation, I think it would be more productive to find sufficient grace to appreciate the gift of feelings and awareness so we can get on living harmoniously with the colorful and moving impressions they provide us.

Reflection 332: Your Turn

October 15, 2012

In writing this blog, I have made every effort to be wholly myself by sharing my sensory impressions, the thoughts flowing from my situated self, the actions that follow from my mental situation, resulting in the blog itself in words and pictures.

I know that some 80 to 100 people have been following this blog from afar. Now I open it up to your comments. Where is your situated self located in your own life? What’s on your mind? What do you notice? What do you think? What do you do to be wholly yourself?

Each of us is a unique individual making a life for him- or herself. But we’re here on this Earth together at the same time. In a very real sense, we’re in this life with one another, sharing these days and events on the one planet where we know life exists. How is it going with us Earthlings these days?

  • Being here now where we are, we are who we are, each doing his or her particular thing. I call myself Steve from Planet Earth; what do you call yourself?
  • When most attentive and alert, what are your sensory impressions?
  • What life situation do you assemble from those collective impressions?
  • And most importantly, what do you actually do in responding to the situated thoughts in your head?

Blogs are a one-sided kind of social medium. For four years I’ve had my turn; now it’s your turn to share where you’ve been coming from in the parallel life you’ve been leading during those years. Particularly, the life you are leading right now on this day.

At the end of this post there is a little word, “Comment.” Click on that word and write where you’re coming from on the inside of your own life. Make this not just my show but yours as well. If we can connect from the depths of ourselves, together we can build a new world that takes each of us into account, making it our world, not just a world for the rich and powerful.

Give me a hint: what do you say?

I remain, Y’r friend and brother, –Steve from Planet Earth

Technorati Tags:

Reflection 332: Your Turn

October 15, 2012

In writing this blog, I have made every effort to be wholly myself by sharing my sensory impressions, the thoughts flowing from my situated self, the actions that follow from my mental situation, resulting in the blog itself in words and pictures.

I know that some 80 to 100 people have been following this blog from afar. Now I open it up to your comments. Where is your situated self located in your own life? What’s on your mind? What do you notice? What do you think? What do you do to be wholly yourself?

Each of us is a unique individual making a life for him- or herself. But we’re here on this Earth together at the same time. In a very real sense, we’re in this life with one another, sharing these days and events on the one planet where we know life exists. How is it going with us Earthlings these days?

  • Being here now where we are, we are who we are, each doing his or her particular thing. I call myself Steve from Planet Earth; what do you call yourself?
  • When most attentive and alert, what are your sensory impressions?
  • What life situation do you assemble from those collective impressions?
  • And most importantly, what do you actually do in responding to the situated thoughts in your head?

Blogs are a one-sided kind of social medium. For four years I’ve had my turn; now it’s your turn to share where you’ve been coming from in the parallel life you’ve been leading during those years. Particularly, the life you are leading right now on this day.

At the end of this post there is a little word, “Comment.” Click on that word and write where you’re coming from on the inside of your own life. Make this not just my show but yours as well. If we can connect from the depths of ourselves, together we can build a new world that takes each of us into account, making it our world, not just a world for the rich and powerful.

Give me a hint: what do you say?

I remain, Y’r friend and brother, –Steve from Planet Earth

Technorati Tags:

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin.       [Including 16 photos.]

Where do Mitt Romney’s non-taxpaying moochers go on vacation? I don’t know about the others, but this September I allowed myself three days to explore Campobello Island in New Brunswick off Lubec, Maine, where I wanted to do some serious mooching. By mooching I mean engaging my surroundings with my eyes and my camera, checking on the situations I am apt to get myself into so I can make a fitting response to what’s going on in my world. My partner was ready to take a break, too, so we drove together through Washington County and over the international bridge between Lubec and Campobello, to the island where F.D.R. took vacations long ago before he got polio.

We spent three days in Herring Cove Provincial Park and Roosevelt International Park, as beautiful an area as I have ever been in. Since this was our only vacation all year, we had some heavy mooching to do if it was going to have to last us for twelve months. I took the makings of three breakfasts and three lunches, she provided three dinners. We tented out in Herring Cove Campground, and did little but explore the whole time.

Since I feel obligated to submit a report to Mr. Romney to justify my existence for those three days—on the off-chance he might approve of how I occupied myself—I offer this accounting of how I used my time. We arrived just at dusk, so set up the tent in a hurry, avoiding low ground where rainwater would collect, and then ate a quick dinner. That was Friday night. The forecast for Saturday was wind and rain by early afternoon, so we started out early in the morning by visiting the beach at Cranberry Point. Yes, there was the Lubec Channel Light, just as the brochure said it would be—looking every bit the giant sparkplug they said it resembled. Carole, that’s my partner, suffered from stomach distress, so lay on the shore with a smooth beach stone in each hand to heal herself. And I walked up and down the beach, photographing the Duck Islands, the waves, clouds on the horizon, a painted lady butterfly, the lighthouse, and West Quoddy Light across the channel in the U.S. of A.

When it started to rain, we visited the Roosevelt International Park visitor center, and spent a couple of hours refreshing our memories of F.D.R.s life and presidency. They had fifteen of his notable speeches piped into a cathedral-style table radio, so it was like old times, reminding me of December 7, 1941, when I first heard of the Japanese stealth bombing of Pearl Harbor. If it hadn’t been for F.D.R., I wouldn’t be the moocher I am today, so I had no difficulty paying my respects to his memory.

When the rain let up, we headed for the northern end of the island to visit East Quoddy Light, which a woman walking her dog told us might be turned into guest accommodations. An adult bald eagle was riling up the gulls on the rocks, looking like he (a tercel one-third smaller than a female) was determined to eat one for dinner. He landed on top of a nearby spruce and balanced himself in the wind by much flapping of wings, then dove off and made a fly-by of where we were standing. I got several photos of that foray, before he settled down on the rocks and just sat there eying the gulls, who mercilessly harassed him by diving at his neck from behind.

You get the idea of how I go about mooching by following my nose to whatever looks interesting. I took 355 photos in three days, and the day I got back, made a 106-slide PowerPoint summary of my brief Canadian engagement, a sample of which I include in this blog. That’s the best way of letting Mr. Romney and the rest of the world know what I was doing by actually posting the evidence of my nonstop engagement with birds, flowers, butterflies, stones, beach art, and my partner Carole. That’s how I justify my existence when somebody challenges me, by showing them what I’m up to.

Whether you’re ready or not, here come the photos: 1) The Duck Islands, 2) Herring Cove with storm clouds, 3) shiny black stone on the beach, 4) the eastern horizon (I’m fascinated by that limit to my existence), 5) a bunch of pebbles, 6) more pebbles, 7) sandpiper on Raccoon Beach, 8) two urchins in sea wrack, 9) a new-hatched monarch butterfly, 10) cliff at the end of Herring Cove, 11) folk art made of the rubber bands lobstermen use to bind lobster claws, 12) a spiral engraved in the sand of Herring Cove with a stick, 13) a totem made by piling up beach stones, and 14-16) constructions such as people leave behind when visiting Raccoon Cove on Campobello Island.

The first ten photos are products my actions in engaging the island, the last six are products of other people’s engagements, left behind for posterity to appreciate, then to succumb to the natural forces ruling all engagements on the island.

Slide1Slide2 Slide3Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9Slide10Slide11Slide12 Slide13Slide14Slide15Slide16

That’s the kind of thing I engage with when I and my partner go on vacation. It’s pretty close to my life’s work, engaging the landscapes through which I pass as I go. I see myself as living a life of civility and respect for the wonders of this Earth. At least I don’t make pornographic films, weapons of mass destruction, or money based on bilking others of their life’s savings. I do as little damage as I can, and above all, take responsibility for the workings of my mind because, after all, it’s my mind, and I’m the only one with access to it. My mind directs my behavior, and my behavior affects other people, so I try to set up an exchange of civility as I walk the way of my life.

Oh, yes, this is my 329th post to my blog on consciousness, my effort to understand my personal brand of absurdity so that I can fulfill that last promise to live on peaceful terms with my neighbors by conducting myself as decently, courteously, and respectfully as I can because I know that no one has it easy, and a ruckus from my direction is the last thing anyone needs. Not that I haven’t caused trouble in the past, but I’m getting better by knowing myself up-close and personal, as they used to say on TV, which I know because I was there watching it as recently as twenty-five years ago.

That’s my mooching report for this week. Pretty bland, I would say—especially when compared to the trouble a lot of workers cause by fighting needless wars of aggression, wringing other people’s money out of the economy, keeping people locked up in detention and solitary confinement, shipping jobs overseas, and generally causing mayhem the way politicians and corporate executives like to do to keep folks stirred up and out of sorts so they’ll consume more than they need just to keep the money flowing to the coffers of the well-off and famous.  

Between mooches I work with an estuary and its watershed to keep it in good shape for coming generations, and hang out with remnants of the Occupy Movement in Maine, trying to convert to an assembly for promoting civil exchanges within the local community as opposed to monetary exchanges—as if sports and the economy are all we have to talk about when people get together. How about learning from and about one another, since each one of us is unique and largely unknown to anyone else?

Submitted with humility and sincerity, –Steve of Planet Earth

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin.    [Including 11 photos.]

Standing trees are the joy of the biosphere, that thin but vibrant layer around the Earth that is home to all life we will meet in our lifetimes. As descendants of tree shrews, we revere trees and woods as our proper habitat. We are wild because they are wild. Our proper reach is the height and breadth of a tree. Beyond that, our grasp is severely limited.

Trees are my closest neighbors and therefore teachers. I bow to each as I pass for it knows a wider and more varied life than I do if I stick to the company of my own kind. Trees know birds, fungi, insects, spiders, mammals. Trees know and respect water. I would be tree minded, tree conscious. Tree wild. My secret name is Spruce, Fir, Pine, Birch, Oak, Hemlock, Hackmatack.

We might think trees are stupid for standing in one place for so long, but they really get to know that one place at every hour of the day and season of the year. Without shelter, they live the fullness of those hours and seasons, while we retreat indoors, turn on the heat and the light, and dream of far exotic lands across the sea or in the heavens. Trees, unlike us, are smart in being who they are, where they are. Rooted in different terrains, each is unique because conditions in every terrain are unique. A tree is the history of its coordinates on Earth written in growing wood. It could only be what it is in that place. Trees have integrity. As Thoreau said, “Nothing stands up more free from blame in this world than a pine tree” (Journal, Dec. 20, 1851).

Consider these trees I have met in the month of July.

P1000900 96-Trees-1P1010911 96-Trees-2P1020224 96-Trees-3 P1020237 96-Trees-4P1010978 96-Trees-5P1020177 96-tree-6P1020160 96-trees-7P1020168 96-tree-8 P1010972 96-Trees-9 P1010933 96-Trees-10P1010969 96-Trees-11The trees have spoken; I did my best to watch and listen. Each tells a different story in a language of its own. I didn’t get many of the particulars, but I got the gist. A powerful sense of what it means to live outdoors in this climate. To be alive to this place in this era. To be fundamentally wild and free without having any ability to run away. Trees have to stick it out, whatever the situation. To be who they are in that place. To understand the meaning of integrity in an extremely difficult situation.

Powered by sunlight, trees live by drawing gallon after gallon of water from the soil upward to their needles and leaves, in the process moderating the climate at ground level, sheltering life lower down, creating habitats where sensitive creatures can thrive. Through the agency of tall trees, forests work as a whole for the good of all. The global benefits of forested land—wild land—cannot be overstated. When forests of trees disappear, what remains is a dry planet like Venus or Mars.

That’s the true situation that sponsors conditions favorable to life. Wild conditions that never came off a drawing board but were earned through trial and error, not intelligent design. Conditions that cannot be duplicated once their wildness is tamed and lost. Think watersheds supplying water to every farm on Earth and every great city. We are still wild creatures of forested watersheds, testing the limits to the trickle of water that gives us our own life. To this day, in each case, that life depends on trees.

Let us celebrate our wildness, yours and mine. I will leave it at that. I’m still here, more or less conscious, like you, doing my best. Y’r friend, –Steve from Planet Earth.

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.

Reflection 308: Wildness 8

August 20, 2012

Copyright © by Steve Perrin.   [Including twelve photos.]

People have long been attracted to the sexual parts of plants as if their lives depended on them, which, in most cultures, they do. If flowering plants didn’t rely on pollination to propagate, we wouldn’t be here. But in many cases we dissociate flowers from the fruits they eventually bear, classifying the one as a sort of decoration, the other as food, finding different benefits in each.

I find joy in the flowers of many plants whose seeds or fruit I have no interest in eating. Particularly in flowers that grow in the wild, not gardens. To me, such blooms are the epitome of wildness that I receive as a gift from damp soil and sunlight. They announce that the natural world is in good working order, and my duty is to celebrate that wild order by paying my respects to the messenger. So I find myself engaging with flowers through their seasons, marking time by the sequence of their scents and colorful shapes.

My life is situated among flowers. I am always aware of them, and aware of myself being aware of them. They do not exist in some outside world; they exist in my depths. I go looking for them when I think they are due, and when I find them, I stop, bend down, and take notice, confirming them and myself in equal portions. If ever I fail to do so, I will know I am near death. Flowers are that vital, that mysterious, that profound.

Here be a few flowers I have photographed in late June and July of this year: Indian pipes, pinesap, whorled loosestrife, partridgeberry, mullein, beach lavender, and helleborine.

P1010453-96-Ip P1000856-b-290-6_96P1000892 96-fl-2P1000958_BI-7-2-6-2012_4_96P1010052 96-fl-4P1010256 P1010834 96-fl-6 P1010837 96-fl-7P1010451 96-fl-8 P1010851 96-fl-9P1010853 96-fl-10 P1010871 96-fl-11 Could anything be more startlingly wild than that selection of flowers? Colorful and orderly, yes, but who could have predicted such an array? And there are plenty more where they came from in our amazing biosphere. I could make a case that consciousness is given us to appreciate flowers, because, as I said above, our lives depend on them. I believe in putting flowers at the heart of my existence where they belong.

Maybe you do the same. I’m still here being myself. And being Y’r brother and friend, –Steve from This Earth

Reflection 307: Wildness 7

August 17, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin.     [Twelve photos.]

My attention these days focuses on wildness, so it comes as no surprise that that’s what I find all around me, with my personal consciousness situated in the middle of it. Situated amid wildness, that’s right where I place myself because that’s what excites me. And what excites me is what I engage with. Like the underside of mushrooms, which I recently discovered.

Driven by Wildness. Sounds like a James Dean or Marlon Brando movie from the 50s. But, no, this is the 20-teens, and I’m playing the central role in this one. Me and a troupe of mushrooms. But under each one is a hidden world, often with a hidden population of wildlife, so I’ve been checking them out lately because, in my current situation, that’s what engages me.

Take the following, for example.

P1010501 96-fungi-bot-1P1010346 96-fungi-bot-2P1010371 96-fungi-bot-3 P1010438 P1010569 96-fungi-bot-5P1010572 P1010594 P1010595 96-fungi-bot-8 P1010659 96-fungi-bot-9 P1010958 96-fungi-bot-10 P1010966 96-fungi-bot-11 P1010988 96-fungi-bot-12 Wildness is where you find it. You find it where you look. You look where you are engaged. You are engaged where you are situated. You are situated where your earlier life has led you. You are led where you find more of what excites or arouses you. What excites you is your personal kind of wildness.

So here I am, peering under the caps of mushrooms, looking for excitement. Finding it where I never looked before. Just me and the slugs. And all that spore-producing apparatus, which is what fungi are all about. And mycorrhizae (underground water-gathering networks) are all about. And coniferous trees, beech trees, and many orchids are all about. Here is my life-support system in plain view. All it takes to find it is a little bending down, and a macro lens on my camera.

This is my life world. My universe. Now inside my head where I can grapple with what it all means. Could anything be more important than coming to terms with that? I don’t think so. This is my personal adventure, which no one can help me with except the self I am led to be.

The sad truth is that much of the hubbub in the outer world of human affairs distracts me from pursuing the adventure of a lifetime. If I don’t take it on, no one else will. I am on my own here, but if I don’t accept the challenge, I wouldn’t be me. And if I am not me, who am I then? Probably a captive of someone else’s project—for their benefit, not mine. No, I’m after my own brand of wildness, and in these posts I am showing you what I’ve discovered so far.

I picture you making headway in pursuit of your own brand of wildness. Together, we’ll make a world that truly engages us both. There’s room for everyone of us—all seven billion, each conscious to the max, engaged with personal excitement no one else can feel because no one else is situated in exactly the same place.

That’s a lot of mileage from fungi. Hope you’re making progress, too. Y’rs, –Steve from Planet Earth.