Cool, Melancholic Float


Ah, we think, on a perfect summer morning, if life were not just like this all the time.  Retired, I can stroll anytime I want, admire the views, drink in the beauty all around me.  On vacation, we wish days would continue forever.  All our happiness comes with a tinge of sadness that happiness, perfect days, beauty and life itself is impermanent and always changing.

Yet that is the glory of consciousness.  I think, sometimes, that were I a god, who knew and controlled everything, that I would seek to ditch it all in favor of being a mortal human.  To be born, to grow and be surprised and mold the world and reflect on impossibilities _ is that not more godlike than any omnipotent, omniscient being could achieve?  Bluntly, where there is no movement, there is no experience.  A cynic might ask, what is the real difference between such a god and a rock?

Shells somehow deposited here high above the tide line.  Who and how, we ask, surely not from tide or birds, so it must be a person.  So much of the world remains so.  We are the supernatural creatures, who roam about doing inexplicable things, creating puzzles for the universe.

I am sad today, for I feel mortal.  This is a realization I try to avoid, although it is as much absolute truth as anything I have ever encountered.  Why sad, why now, why me?  Surely I have had my fill of the splendors of the world, of shells and summer and sun.  When I am gone, they will all remain.  I should embrace comfort in knowing that, yet I remain sad at the thought of the world without me.


The dock looks solid enough, but that is apparently an illusion.  Our community has been informed that is becoming dangerous and must be (expensively) replaced.  Old pilings in ancient seaport towns can last forever _ look at Venice.

So much that seems permanent is transient.  We now believe the universe itself is hurtling toward oblivion.  People used to believe their lives were fleeting moments in eternity, but now it appears that the only eternity available is each infinite moment of our experience.

Used to be able to “sit on the dock of the bay,” but time has relentlessly removed that from what seems an endless and unchanging green landscape.  Most of the singers I listened to in my youth are dead now, but their songs still pop up _ even more frequently now that my memories of olden days are clearer than those of yesterday.  Strange, a little sad, but of course it guarantees that my own life and times were unique to me.

Everywhere, if I look closely, there are signs of changing weather, here with one month to go to autumnal equinox.  The dogwood foliage is fading to brownish yellow, the roses are in in second bloom vigor, the annual weeds are largely done bloom and into seed and dry stalks.  A poignant time for those of us, still feeling the freshness of our late summer, knowing that our evolutionary duty is long completed and all that is required is for us to get out of the way for the next generations.

Seems a lot of folks have suddenly discovered the summer is almost over.   More boats in the harbor than I have seen in a long while, some people in the water, others fishing, a few just looking and enjoying.  As often happens, you hardly appreciate what you have until it is being taken away.

Better late than never.  Anyway, it is impossible to take full advantage of every moment, no matter what the self-help books preach.  We soon burn out and become frustrated.  The trick is to somehow keep things fresh, but without excessive overload.  Not easy.  Anyway, good to see so many seeking rewards in being alive on the harbor.


Maybe I should sit here several hours, or all day, watching clouds and reflections and life.  There would surely be more than enough to mediate on.  Possibly I could get closer to the meaning of it all, or at least an appreciation of how much there is to this existence I take for granted.    

But I am infected by the same contemporary disease of all those around me.  Like a Sisyphus released to run marathons instead of pushing rocks, I must always move from place to place, moving back to the same place, moving again and again.  Often seeing little of what I should, then restless to view what might be behind the tree or over the horizon.  And, although I sometimes make vows, I am pretty sure I will not change. 



From this perspective it’s all perfect _ bright, cheery, sunny, green, inviting.  Well, it is, really.  But the day is late, the shadows grow long, the breeze is cool, close up those green leaves are curling and losing vitality, and other flowers have already packed it in, leaving the field to the late-bloomers.  The true curse of knowledge is the ability _ and innate necessity _ to foresee the probable future.  In the mind’s eye, the road is covered with snow and slush, the world reduced to brown and blue, and cold sweeps unceasingly from the north.

One way to look Adam and Eve is that until they ate that apple, they were immortal precisely because they did not know their fate.  They were happy and lived in a perpetual garden exactly because they could not imagine winter.  God, in that interpretation, treated them as just another animal, never knowing of death until it happened, never fearing catastrophe because they never thought.  In the unceasing quest to return to Eden, many try to achieve such a blissful state through drugs or meditation, shutting down reason, accepting these happy yellows as an eternal moment.


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