Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Dance of the Generations


Periodically I go through my collected works of art and literature and on this one occasion a particular idea inundated my consciousness with insistent clarity. An inner truth revealed itself to me. The driving force of my creativity is to capture through some medium the real nature of reality and my response to it. Art strives to peel away the layers of distraction and confusion and affect that permeates the human world in an attempt to reveal what lies underneath.

In the evolution of humans, there came a time in the development of the species that a spark lit the pyre of the consciousness of self and that startling quality of perception that instantly changed everything for the better and the worse. As a result, we have both the wondrous capacity to comprehend the nature of things and yet we can value our individual selves so highly that it can thoroughly obstruct our vision.

Reality’s Song is vivid, persistent and exists beyond our control. Time moves forward, pushes boundaries, ushers in the constancy of change and glides into the future with precision. As individuals we are powerless within this domain no matter how well taught we may have been regarding the supernatural forces that supposedly operate purely for our benefit and work tirelessly on our behalf.

When the mind is opened to the majesty of Reality’s Song; to the enormity and power of the cosmos, to the universe extending outward to extraordinary dimensions; to the remarkable aspects of the natural and living worlds; to the ever-present and dynamic mother Earth; to the wonders of the human brain, life reveals itself as a remarkable gift. From this perspective, an individual life journey, however brief, is a fantastic experience.

Reality’s Song embraces everything. It touches us with inexplicable joy and immense sadness, with love’s surprise, and promise, and untold grief, with the inner-workings of the natural world; with the star-filled midnight sky, with the dance of the planets, with black holes and supernovas, with the enormity of space and the incessant rhythm of time. Although we may witness the many variations of Reality’s Song, it is not sung for us; it is not here for us. Reality’s song is an intrinsic and inescapable aspect of the expansive universe.

Reality’s Song teaches that life is fleeting, that pleasure and pain and emotions and thought, intellect and reason are products of the human brain and have no existence outside ourselves. Reality’s Song clearly demonstrates that the cosmos is immense and that humanity is not a necessary component of its existence, and that the continued presence of the human species is far from guaranteed. Reality’s Song embraces truth and does not coincide with delusional ideas and fantastic conclusions.

To be a sentient being existing in all of this incredible splendor is a reality that I gladly embrace and feel immensely privileged to experience however briefly.

During this final phase of my existence as an autonomous being on this earth, our only home, I would like to shift my focus to that somewhat intangible aspect of being I refer to as peace of mind. I did refer to my time in life as a final phase not on account of any serious or debilitating illness but on account of the inescapable reality that the time ahead of me is far shorter than the time that has already elapsed. Realistically, we are all dying in that as soon as we are born our trajectory is clear although the time allotted may vary.

I have included the following poem –

Ode to the Elusive Peace of Mind

I wish to say farewell

to all trivial considerations,

all venal and self-serving dreams,

all of ego’s darlings

piled up like so many useless magazines

cluttering the thoroughfares of the mind.

I wish to terminate the leases

of all the shabby and unwanted tenants that

occupy the precious real estate within

my neuronal wonder.

I wish to finally release all the hostages

reminiscent of bygone desires and

missed opportunities,

they take far too much succor to retain.

I wish to welcome all of

life’s truly wondrous aspects,

of nature’s magnificent presence

and finally let all of existence consume me

within the grasp of perfect peace.

These series of wishes as outlined above, represent both individually and collectively a challenging set of goals. Over my lifetime, I have accumulated a torturous array of tattered remnants that no longer serve any useful purpose and that, in fact, present serious obstacles to a fuller appreciation of the wondrous quality of being.

All humanity is part of the “dance of the generations” where those living move about the Earth interacting with each other and the natural world that establishes place and time. Encased within the recesses of our bony skull lies that remarkable organ that projects the essence of ourselves, maintains our intricate library of memories, initiates our thoughts and desires and that propels us forward. Each of us expend our allotted time in our own unique ways. This dance eventually propels us into the oblivion of death so as make way for the next generation. This is the inescapable truth. We may try to deny this reality, or obfuscate the implications, but that is no matter – the dance goes on. It is far better to appreciate the dance and join in the revelry rather than bemoan this fundamental aspect of the reality principle.

To quote the master (William Shakespeare) -


All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then, a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice,

In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws, and modern instances,

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

As You Like It (Jaques, Act 2 Scene 7)

I am fast approaching my 79th Birthday (October 2023). I have had the privilege to have had “many turns at the wheel.” I have lived in many domiciles throughout this country; slept in many beds; walked many, many miles both amid the wonders of nature, and traveled through vast expanses of this human world.

On the chalkboard of my life I have attempted to highlight those experiences that remained vivid to me.

On my chalkboard of life there are many fanciful entries filled with preposterous expectations, and there is a multiplicity of lists enumerating tasks planned, tasks completed and tasks abandoned. On my chalkboard of life there are protestations of love and impassioned pleadings; there are expressions of precipitous joy and the howling of despair; there are intricate tapestries of proclamations of brilliant successes and barely perceptible references to utter failures; there are entire litanies of somewhat intelligible references to dream sequences and idle wishes; there are inchoate rants against absolute lunacy of the human experience.

Throughout the chalkboard of my life there runs the very current of experience, of choices and consequences and the meanderings of love.

On the chalkboard of my life, there is a more limiting space left for a future that still has me in it. My fondest hope for all the future generations that follow is to achieve the fullest degree of happiness, joy and enlightenment that life may bring.

Furthermore, my deepest and most sincere advice to anyone who will listen is to imbibe fully the experience of existence; taste every moment; savor all the nuances of the space you occupy; express your feelings no matter how mundane or profound; live and love as if your breath might suddenly fail you; do not judge yourself and others harshly – better yet do not judge at all. Embrace the art of forgiveness and lighten the needless burdens you may carry.

Lastly, and most importantly, don’t be stupid and never listen to stupid people for stupidity pays homage to lies and sows seeds of mistrust, malice and hatred. Stupidity prepares the human world for endless cycles of hapless aggression, vengeance, and dissolution. Stupidity shutters the mind and in so doing thwarts the possibility of real human progress.

These are my suggestions that spring from the cumulative weight of the lessons my life has taught me.

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