Revisitation • The Cultivation of Enlightenment • open-edition giclée print

The Cultivation of Enlightenment

open edition giclée print

They waft gently on the cascading currents of air. 

Specks and spores, fine yet potent, expelled from their source, seeking to anchor. In bright garden sunlight they glint, carrying ancient fruitful wisdom. Fertile with insight, ripe with terrestrial philosophies.

A lush epiphany shall bloom.

I don’t know if the Earth speaks to us.  

Or, if it ever did, whether we’re still on speaking terms these days.  For that matter, it’s not clear to me if the sky has much to say.  Or if the universe sings us to sleep.  If the sun has wisdom to impart.  Whether the trees whisper ancient knowledge.  If the energy that makes up this planet and all organic and inorganic life crawling over its surface is shouting dire warnings in our ears.

I’d like to think that these things are true.

Its an interesting peculiarity of our species:  to gift human traits and personalities to inhuman and inanimate things.

My father’s first horse was named Rusty.  She was usually calm, in control, steady, and fairly friendly.  Except she hated my Mom.  And, it turns out, all women.  She would nip at my Mom’s hand.  And if she saw my parent’s together, she would be horrible afterwards.  To the point that we eventually had to sell her when, one day, she decided to stop, drop and roll on top of a barbed wire fence while my Dad was riding her - ostensibly because, an hour earlier, my mother had popped back to tell Dad he had a phone call.

Was she jealous?  Spiteful?  Envious?  Protective or possessive of my father?  That’s certainly how it seemed and how we told the stories about her.  But can a horse really get jealous?

A friend recently told me about a woman (a professor, I think) who theorized that the English language doesn’t have the ability to accurately convey many of women’s thoughts, emotions, and experience.  So, she went and created her own language (I wish I had more information on this, links or something, if any of you do, please forward them to me.  Language and its strengths and shortcomings are a fascinating subject).  Let’s assume she’s correct.

If 50% of our species are inaccurately represented by our common language, how can we even begin to hope to understand anything that isn’t actually human?

It’s one of the reasons I get frustrated (and a little frightened) whenever anyone, of any religion, professes to understand the intention or will of (a) God or divine being.  I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist.  I’m not saying It’s not trying to communicate with us.  

But on the one hand we have an entity that willed or cobbled or fuzzled the entirety of creation into existence.  That begat life.  That is able to conceive of ideas and concepts on the scale of the universe.  Maybe multiple universes.  On the other, we have us.  Most of us can’t even plan dinner a day ahead.   

People often explain the relationship by comparing God:human to human:ant.  It’s not equivalent.  We didn’t create ants.  Heck, they probably pre-date us.  Everything we know about ants, we know through observation.  And generally, we get a lot wrong that way.   If the distance between ants and humans is from NY to LA, then the distance between us and Divinity is from NY to MACS0647-JD.  That’s the furthest known galaxy, a mere 13.3 billion light years away.  

The point being that the entirety of the universe could be screaming at us night and day, and we wouldn’t even recognize that there was language happening.  Nature and the planet might be whispering the secrets of ultimate power and happiness in our ears, and all the while we’re trying to swat away a mosquito.

Ah, but I wouldn’t be living up to my reputation as an optimist if there wasn’t a caveat.  

Humans can evolve.  Not just genetically, but personally, in knowledge and openness.  In understanding and compassion and empathy.  Then, maybe we’ll find something interesting to listen to.

The Cultivation of Enlightenment open-edition print wafts into the shop for the first time today.