"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Galaxy Will Manage

The September (Sunday night, 9 - 27 / 28 - 2015) Supermoon
aka Perigee Moon -- when the day of the Full Moon coincides with
the day when the Moon is nearest to Earth in its orbit.
Last month's Harvest Moon was the nearest, largest, brightest
Supermoon of the entire year

The various lunar events -- supermoons, eclipses, waxing, waning -- like so many things, are not ours to initiate or control. They belong to themselves, to the galaxy, to the universe. We can bear witness, record, describe. We can seek wisdom and gain understanding, not forgetting our role in the scheme of things (as aptly described in the Nature is Speaking videos by "Conservation International").

In his book Sabbath, community advocate Wayne Muller invites us to consider our world and our work in a larger perspective:
"Sabbath requires surrender . . . The old, wise Sabbath says: Stop now. . . . We stop because there are forces larger than we that take care of the universe, and while our efforts are important, necessary, and useful, they are not (nor are we) indispensable. The galaxy will somehow manage without us for this hour, this day, and so we are invited -- nay, commanded -- to relax, and enjoy our relative unimportance, our humble place at the table in a very large world. . . . [emphasis added]

We feel how large the universe is, and how small our labors. Our work is simply one offering among countless others that have come before and will come again, when all we have planted has been grown, harvested, eaten, and forgotten.

When we stop, we see that the world continues without us . . .

The world seduces us with an artificial urgency . . .

But Sabbath says, Be still. Stop. There is no rush to get to the end, because we are never finished. . . .

You are not going anywhere. Millions have done this before you, and millions will do it after you are gone."
Muller also quotes from the Holocaust Diary of Esther Hillesum:
"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."
See "Let It Be," 82 - 85 & "The Book of Hours," 88 - 90
in Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
by Wayne Muller (b 1953)
Contemporary American author, speaker, and therapist

A humorous rendition of a very similar sentiment appears in the musical My Fair Lady, when Eliza Doolittle reminds Henry Higgins of his insignificance to the workings of the universe:

"Without You"
. . . No, my reverberating friend
You are not a beginning and the end

There'll be spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
There'll be fruit on the tree
And a shore by the sea
There'll be crumpets and tea without you

Art and music will thrive without you
Somehow Keats will survive without you
And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain
Even that will remain without you, I can do without you

You, dear friend, who talk so well
You can go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire

They can still rule the land without you
Windsor Castle will stand without you
And without much ado we can
All muddle through without you

Without your pulling it the tide comes in
Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin
Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by
If they can do without you, ducky so can I
. . .

Lerner & Loewe

And yet again the point is made in the movie Birdman, which features an impassioned speech from a troubled, insightful daughter (portrayed by Emma Stone) to her confused, striving father (Michael Keaton) about the value (or not) of his life's endeavor:
"Means something to who? You had a career before the third comic book movie, before people began to forget who was inside the bird costume. You’re doing a play based on a book that was written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich old white people whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have their cake and coffee when it’s over. And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it."
Gerry often tells the parable of sticking your hand into a bucket of water and taking it out again, in order to gauge how much you might be missed when moving on from one workplace to another. I googled for background information only to discover pages of entries, all pointing to this poem:
The Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger

Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego's in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You're the best qualified in the room,

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable [woman or] man.
Well, now we know!

Indispensable? Perhaps not: "If you lie down, no one will die." Still, it would be nice to make a small dent of some kind, if nothing else, to leave this world a slightly better place than we found it, a modest goal.

~ September 27 / 28, 2015 ~
~ Night of the Total Eclipse ~ Super Blood Moon ~

Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, October 28th

Between now and then, read Daniel's In Memoriam on
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

1 comment:

  1. New poem about the galaxy,
    from Tammy Sandel (22 October):


    at 5:46 AM, with my dog as copilot, i drive one minute out of the trees, beyond the single streetlight, into the velvet black sky opened wide by harvest to watch the meteor shower. (this event was advertised last night by my son. he wanted to watch, but that was last night; this morning his body demanded sleep.)

    i open all the windows of the car, kill the lights, climb out to lean against its cool and rumbling side, let my head fall back against its roof to look.

    what do i see this morning?

    clouds. a cottony blanket down low. but stars through their cracks and a free dizzy from their passive dance across the sky, as they move like jellyfish on the purposeful current of another.

    keep looking.

    keep watching. anything?

    head down to sip coffee, i roll my shoulders, unclench my jaw.

    no, i think. no shower to spy with my little eye.

    no shooting stars.

    i know they're there. i have faith in the word of a 12-year old boy (and his teacher). i have faith that there are miracles up there every day that exist whether i see them or not.

    that exist whether i even know of their existence.

    and whether i search for them, pause for them, savor them or not.

    a deer crossing and two lumbering raccoons in my minute-drive return to healthy sleeping children in a quiet house.

    the call of an invisible owl to welcome me back, welcome me forward.

    i make a wish upon our unseen stars.

    and i give thanks for the sky, for austin making me look, for the by-product beauty of these wild animals and the privilege of moving softly through their morning.

    i give thanks for the miracle of thursday.