Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Hidden Ra

Its strange how different things are in this day and age. There are fundamental assumptions we make everyday about the world around us, and beyond, which were completely hidden from the ancients. In no great way do these effect our lives on their own. But in mass, as the giant of modern knowledge, I think they alter our perspectives. Everyone hides from the cold specter of great understanding.
The reality is overwhelming. It is too large, too huge, and way too shocking for out minds to encapsulate, analyze and label. So we just don’t see it most of the time. But now and again I try to really understand our place in the universe… I try and I fail. It basically can not be truly understood, but sometimes I feel like I get closer to the truth. Not much closer, maybe a step or two in a journey that would take a lifetime and beyond.
It’s a humbling step. I think about how small I feel compared to the world, and how small the world feels compared to the solar system, and how small the solar system is compared with endless space. I think of galaxies and try not to see them as a picture on a wall, or a pretty poster, but as what they truly are. I feel so incredibly small.
How much easier it is to think the way we used to. To think of stars as gods dancing across the heavens, looking down on us. To think of stars as a thousand frozen dreams, forever winking quiet warmth. To think of stars as a shell of lights just out of reach, marking the end of all creation. To think of stars as a road of souls, slowly making their way to the underworld and everlasting peace. We now know all these things to be far fetched at best, but they are so much more effortless to understand then the truth. And every fiction is so much more reassuring and comforting then the monumentally uncaring reality.
…How untrue are these thoughts really? Everything I know about stars fits just fine into a standard definition of God. Stars are so large and powerful that they are beyond our thoughts. In the unfathomable and hellish nightmare of that power, the heavy elements were created out of simple hydrogen and helium. There was once a star who worked for billions and billions of years to create us. Such time as has not passed sense the formation of the world. And then when it was done, and the building blocks were ready, it burst and sent its work unto creation. Sacrificing its self for its creation. All that was floated for billions of years more. Slowly fitting its self back together… And from the ashes of that sacrifice, the ground we stand on was created. And from that sacrifice was born a new sun. The son of the creator of all things.
And that sun works now, every day it churns and shines, granting us life. It is the fuel of nearly all living things. We rely on it for everything. And it is also creating too, the work of creation is never finished. One day, many, many years from now, the son will join the father in a monumental Armageddon, and another great sacrifice. And the world will be consumed and remade, its fragments mixed with the elements being forged this very second. And in time beyond time, the worlds will reformed.
It all reminds me of a big black book I read once...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stars and Insecurities

When the night is at its darkest, stars blaze all the brighter. When I sit outside and watch stars take the sky, I can just see them consuming the blue. Taking the light into themselves, a swirling vortex of hope. A promise of light, a promise of life. In this way, the daylight is always with us. It’s a gentle reminder that all will be well. Do stars fight over the light? Do they struggle to take as much as they can hold, do they yearn to shine the brightest? I know that some are stronger then others, some shine more brilliantly. Some stars try and burst with light, begging to be seen. Some starts try and consume every drop of blue, and keep it for them selves. But now and then, I see one that is just quietly radiant. I know of a star that sits low on the horizon, that twinkles slowly and softly. And every night, the sun sets right behind it. Its filled with the golden rays of sunset, and quietly dominates the night. Sometimes, it’s the only star I can see.

When its soft golden rays fill the sky, and even the moon dims and bows, the cold seems to melts away. The night no longer feels so dark. Yet even as I am comforted, I worry about the morning. Will it steal away my star? When the suns harsh grip takes back what’s his, and he hides away the magic of the night, will it still be there? At dusk I watch for it, as the sun relinquishes majesty. Waiting for its return. When the last rays of the sun crest the horizon, I hold my breath and wait. The world stands still..

..My heart stops with it..

..And a moment stretches into an eternity..

And then all of a sudden its there, bursting with a warm glow. And everything snaps back to normal, and reality comes crashing in around me. The wind touches the leaves in the trees, and the waters ripples continue their slow plod. The world is a magical place again. And already, I think of the morning light.

Friday, October 17, 2008

On Greatness

The world was once a mysterious place. There was a time, not that long ago, where legends walked the earth. A time where magic happened every day, just out of sight. When it was thought that the Holy Grail was real, a hidden and guarded secret. All one had to do was look hard enough and you could find immortality. At least as a legend in your own right. The man who did such a great deed would forever be remembered in song and story. Can you imagine such a world? Think of the people who set out to find such things, to explore unknown places, to find greatness. But the sad truth is most never found much, never achieved glory. What does it say about humanity? It comforts me to think about people braving imposable odds on not but a wish, a dream. People who set out into the blackest part of the map, faced real peril, for a chance at something greater. People who risked all, and lost, for nothing but hope… And then others followed in their footsteps, knowing the dangers, risking all again.

How small my gambles appear, how diminutive my dangers, how insignificant my troubles. All I risk is pain, how does that compare to life? All I could lose is dreams, and if I lose, my old life still awaits me. How easy life feels all of a sudden. And what do I hope for? The same things as the great ones who have passed before me. I dream of love and serenity, peace and joy, freedom and fulfillment. These are common dreams to humanity, and I dream them nightly. I think of the pioneers who settled the west. How they burned their bridges when they choose to trust in hope. I think how they wagered all for the same things as I, for hope. And there was no going back for them… Do or die.

Even the great treasure seekers were not so different. Because, you see, I don’t think they really wished for glory, fame and riches. These are not dreams in their own right, they are just one outer shell of true happiness. One of many. These are concepts that overlay a basic ideal: an easy life, a fulfilled life. But something does feel different now…

Has the modern world changed something fundamental inside us all? I wish I could say that it hasn’t, but I am starting to wonder… Have we lost touch with hope? There are still great doers, great dreamers, but has the average man lost something? I can think back to so many times where I lost because I never played. And why? Because I wouldn’t ante up. You still have to wager to win… that hasn’t changed, and I hope it never will. But how I greave for what could have been, if fear hand not paralyzed my actions. Is our attachment to the current state of affairs far greater now then our aspirations for what could be? For what will be? Are we existing from day to day, amassing and acquiring, our greatest hope simply not to lose what we already have?

There was a time when I lived this way, not that long ago. But how ineffectual… All structures are unstable, all forms dissolve and change. Chaos rules the world, but that’s not a cynical thing to say. Order is an illusion in our minds, its just a mental concept we attach to things. How strange it is to fight disorder. Its not a fight you can ever win, because it’s a fight with your own perceptions. Its amazing how I would rather cling to a supposed sure thing then risk greatness. Only because of a questionable outcome, will the new state of being be worse then the current one? Maybe… But how did I let that be the end of the conversation? How could I not ask myself, will the new state of being be better then the current one? How could I not let that be the balance for every silly anxiety that had me?

Things are different now. I wish I could say “no fear anymore”… But that would be a lie. Its easy to see these things and know these things, but in the moment of truth… do I still listen to that old voice? Its so seductive, so safe and easy simply to give in. Its been said that bravery is doing something even if your afraid. To disregard that twinge inside and push forward. People of old did it, in the face of great hardship. Surly they were afraid. How could I fail to do the same? And in the face of so little opposition. I’m almost ashamed of my past... But its not the end of the story. I can strive to better myself. Strive for greatness.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunset Noon

Somewhere, a war as ancient as mankind is underway. Its another skirmish in the endless battle of man verses nature. The troops are assembled, and weapons brought to bare. For you see, somewhere California is burning. The scar from this primeval battlefield rises up to the heavens and blots out the sun. It came drifting over the hills, from miles and miles away, driven by a cold and hungry wind. Smoke and ash falls from the sky like a great perversion of rain, speaking of only death. Sunset at noon. Its so disorienting. The shadows are short and tucked, the midday's heat still beats down from the obscured sun. But the colors are all wrong. Its orange and red, a mockery of the end of days.
There is this smell of wood smoke that hangs in the air. I know its a herald of destruction but all I can think of is quite nights around a campfire. Of happy times where I was safe and contented, in the peace of nature. And yet I know, right now people are losing their homes to this war. There will be casualties. Is that wrong?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Computer Zoos

Its always so cold in computer labs. Climate controlled, sterile and freezing. It’s a holy shrine to the bit and the byte. Where the machine is king and there is no compromise for the comforts of mere mortals. People move slowly, speak quietly, in the presence of their masters. Labs are always lined with cheep vertical plastic blinds, forever half open. Bars on my cage, holding back the beautiful world outside. A silent sentinel protecting the quiet regulation from nature’s perfect anarchy.

I feel like a monkey in a zoo. I can imagine passing strangers, tapping on the glass, laughing with their friends. Staring in at the confusing little creatures, hunched protectively over their little keyboards, guarding their little secrets. Just like monkeys in the zoo, we are not dancing, we are not playful, we are not happy... We hunger to be free. Just as you stare in at us, we stare out with longing. We dream of open places, of grass, of trees, and of freedom. We stare out the bars and dream.

I watch the trees dance in the wind, and it torments me. I can’t seem to focus on anything else. Its so cold in here… I yearn to run outside where the sun warms, and the air is fresh. I want to lay down in the grass and watch the wind embrace the leaves. Its so inviting… But I know I wont dare. Somehow I know I am trapped in here. And when the gate is lifted, and my freedom granted, I know I will rush right home. I will walk out of this frozen den, onto concrete, onto pavement, into my car. I’ll not even touch a living thing this day. I know all these things, and I can’t even feel depressed about it. I am resigned to it. But here, behind my bars I am free to dream.

When I wake, I find that I am becoming indoctrinated into this other world. After all these long years, the darkened chambers feel safe. The clean and orderly spaces, lined up in perfect little lines, feels right. The faceless interface has become my friend. Will the longings fade away? Sometimes I think they may, sometimes I am terrified they will.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Once, in Solana Beach

I was sitting on a the platform of a train station, on a solid concrete bench. My back pressed to a wall that towered over me. This station is dug into a mountain, and the tracks lay at the bottom of a deep ravine with 40 foot walls, climbing sharply away into the clear blue sky. Sitting at the bottom, stuck uncomfortably close to the tracks, no where to go, no where to hide, no one around. The silence was a thick blanket, slowly working its way around me. Tighter and tighter, it enfolded me in its warm embrace, lulling me into peace.

From a long way off it came, quite at first, ignored and forgotten amid the drifting points of light in my mind. Each a little thought, waiting patiently for its chance to burst into a little flash under my minds wandering gaze. It flashed brighter and brighter, growing more insistent with each pulse. Soon I turned my attention to it, and knew that every pulse was a distant horn blowing. It wasn’t hard to guess what it meant, I was in a train station after all. But I also knew there was no trains scheduled for hours. When the lumbering beast finally came roaring and growling into view, it was a yellow goliath with miles of empty, multilevel car carriers. I expected to see it pass on by, but it came screeching to a noisy halt on the double track on the far side of the station. It slowed, and just as it came to stop, a thousand loose metal doors gave one last thunderous slam of protest, and then silence came slamming back into the gorge. The faceless beast sat quietly, and never have I heard such quiet.

Just as the stillness again entranced me back into a stupor, and my mind defocused among the dancing lights, a felt a strange tremor in the ground. Moments later I heard the first report of the horn. It was higher pitch then the first, and from the other direction. I looked on expectantly, but could see little. It got louder and louder, and it became hard to focus on anything else. When the yellow monstrosity finally came charging into sight, it was like a rabid bull, bellowing its protest at each of the master’s goads. It moved with the total assurance anything that would dare stand up to it would be destroyed, and it would hardly take notice. Unfathomable and impersonal, it came at me like it was hungering for my blood. I wanted to move, to run, ancient instincts were ripping at my mind. But there was no where to go, the walls pressed in all around. The horn screamed its challenge, the ground shook, and then it was on me. A blast of hellish air whipped my face, forcing me to turn away from the maelstrom. One moment suddenly stopped leading to another. Among the chaos, the whipping wind, the roaring sound, the shaking ground, I lost myself. Every point of light dancing in my mind was ripped away on the relentless wind from the wings of a thousand demons. In the storm there was nothing but madness and fury. The train seemed to go on forever, each car over 22 feet tall, clanging and banging, blocking out the sun. I just mere feet away, huddled on my bench, defenseless toward the onslaught. I felt like my mind fractured, and everything inside just came pouring out. Just as I thought it would go on forever, without warning, it stopped. It was over with such abruptness that it to was a great shock in its self. All of a sudden it was just over, and I felt helplessly empty.

Silence consumed the ashes of the conflagration. From a long way off thoughts came swirling back, timid and vigilant. Weaving closer and scattering away, then jagging back. Just as I reached out to embrace them, and comfort them, the forgotten machine made a piercing wail. With a lurch and a great crash of protest from a thousand angry doors, it returned to life. Thought scattered again to the winds. Digging deeply into its tracks, it started its headlong rush away. Moments past, and I was left in a daze as its last car disappeared like a dream come morning. Thoughts returned, one or two at a time, but I simply ignored them. They all felt so small, so meaningless, in the wake of passing gods. Tranquility packed in around the spaces between the soft glowing points, bringing their dance to a slow halt. I sat there in a daze.