Saturday, August 06, 2005

Contemplation at dawn

this is an audio post - click to play

I greeted the sun this morning after I dropped SP off at the airport. I went to my favorite spot to watch the sun rise over Mount Hood. It was a cool, refreshing morning, all the more sweet for knowledge of the heat to come. I spent several minutes practicing stillness, just breathing, listening to the sounds of an awakening world and savouring the splendid isolation of each moment as it blended into the next. I was moved to photograph the sight of morning mist flying the sun's colours, gentle herald of the light's upcoming triumph over darkness. I do so love that timeless moment before the sun crests the horizon, when I am swathed still in the embrace of night, and my eyes see anew the shapes of things, cast as they are into sharp relief.

Afterwards, as I drove home, I listened to the Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano by Camille Saint-Saens. I considered again the Philosopher Serf journal entry on a Herbert Marcuse quote, still formulating my thoughts on the way human beings recognize themselves in relation to what they own, and what they want. I thought about dawns and dusks, beginnings and endings, births and deaths, depletion and renewal, gain and loss, achievements and failures. I recognized that when I achieve something I have worked toward, I feel reborn.

And yet, as I grow comfortable with this feeling of renewal, something familiar arises: anxiety and fears are born from the ashes to which they were rendered by my triumph, success, acheivement, or acquisition. On occasion, my new possession or state loses lustre as something within me catches glimpse of the next thing I desire. Or more often, my joy is slowly tempered by a growing awareness of imperfection. Dissatisfaction thus creeps in, and sometimes anger, or pain, because that which I have attained has resolved nothing, it has only created the need to adapt to something 'new', with its oft unexpected complications. I try, I do so try, to accept that this is the nature of reality, that it flows and changes from moment to moment, that fearing what this mutability will bring is not only fruitless, but harmful to me.

In a moment of naked self-honesty, I asked myself why I had bound myself to this cycle of wishes fulfilled and wishes feared and wishes denied. Why can I not simply be pleased with my joys and my achievements, fully accepting and appreciating that life and everything in it is tragic, changeable, transient, cyclic, poignant, and occasionally, when I am lucky, joyful? Because I operate under the illusion that perfection is possible. That attaining what I desire will alleviate that pervasive sense of confusion, loss, and fear.

I recognize in myself that tendancy to feel that all I have gained and achieved is imperfect, insignificant, unworthy; thus my habitual rejection of abundance in my life. And so the cycle begins again, as I move on to the next new goal, or wander, listless and lost, overwhelmed with dissatisfaction, acheiving little more than a creative repetition of the past.

What I have and what I want are all the same, in the end. They have no intrinsic value in and of themselves, other than what I project onto them. They are merely projections of my longing to be free of the condition of suffering which we call "living."


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