Dissonance & Consonance

Photo: Heart of a Sunflower

When the interplay of sounds, of melody and accompaniment, move toward that sharp, yearning suspension of notes that reach for each other but cannot seem to meet, the resolution—if and when it comes—is evermore the sweet. Pointed and poignant, that sacred space betwixt sunlight and shade, the delicate balance before sleep consents to wake, or life concedes to sleep in death, holds both precious sorrow and piercing joy. Just as forgiveness does not require forgetting but is rather accentuated by it, the brightest day shines all the more for its being cut with silhouettes of deepest shadow, and the inmost midnight anthracite of sky finds its peak of beauty when marked with sparkling points of stellar light.

Speak, and the silence quivers in recognition; sing, and it pulses with ecstasy.

Allegro gives way to the grieved pacing of Largo, and that, in turn, takes pause and after a longing sigh, begins to dance again, Allegretto. Season will follow season down the years, and I grow old and turn transparent with my age, until at last, hearing the call of the penultimate phrase, I remember that if I let my voice fall from the present chord, those who carry it on will draw into that beautiful, desired harmony and close the space perfectly once again. Whether voices falter, go astray, or fall silent, the return to harmony waits to bring existence back into balance.Harvest Moon

Space Cadet

Pardon me for mooning you. [If my backside looked this fabulous, I might show you that, too. You are very lucky things are the way they are.] Lacking such stellar assets myself, I look to the sky for my inspiration yet again, because, well: that moon!!! It’s been showing off a lot lately, giving us so much indulgent, up close and personal, viewing of that wildly handsome face that I begin to wonder whether the moon doesn’t have a crush on us. Given the seeming frequency of supermoon approaches these days and this apparent increase of mutual attraction, I begin to wonder if, instead, it would like to crush us.
Photo: Space Cadet

But I prefer to think that I’m living in a time and place where I can enjoy to fuller than usual advantage the beauty that is that big old hunk of reflective rock out there. To me, it’s a candy-coated, opalescent, crazily pretty artwork stuck up in the canopy of the sky just for my pleasure and amusement. It’s big enough, bright enough, and grand enough that we can all share it, so don’t be shy, you can gaze upon it too. And I will enjoy thinking of the silvery light shining on me being the same silvery light that’s shone on you.

Beginning with the Very First Night

Digital illustration from a photo: Slide into NightFrom Darkness to Stars

Those distant notes of smoky, sighing dusk

That underlay and raise the early moon

Draw mystery from earth, as if its musk

Were growing far too fecund, far too soon,

To lie a moment longer there in wait

And hide the heart of what was made for strength,

The time when reinvention is so great

It imitates Creation, and at length,

Renews its potent primacy and grows,

Becomes, designs, accelerates, empow’rs

All who would build, each being here that knows,

The inspiration of the nighttime hours—

So break the stars of newness in the night

To bring from utter darkness brilliant light!Digital illustration from a photo: From Darkness to Stars

We were So Civilized

Digital collage: We were So CivilizedNo matter where I am on the Fourth of July I am likely to think about the country in which I was born and have lived all of my life thus far: the United States of America. The Fourth is the official birthday of the nation, though many of the current states joined the union long, long after that July in 1776 when it was established by its founders. Like so many nations around the world, this country and its history are a tremendously complicated and varied patchwork of fact and fiction, hope and fear, two steps forward and one step back. Over and over and over again.

Imagine this: a pack of refugees from religious persecution left their homeland and sailed into the unknown across an ocean of which they also knew very little except that their passage across it was dangerous and miserable and killed plenty of them before they hit the new shore. When they landed, to their surprise there were already plenty of other people living on that new turf, and did that stop the interlopers from moving in, too? Of course not. I don’t expect it ever occurred to them, to be honest, that there wasn’t room for everybody or that if they took a ton of the resources around them that might just mean there were fewer for the previous residents of the land, folk who had, indeed, already long established a very different relationship with the continent.

That the illnesses and diseases the newcomers brought with them from Home would endanger and kill many of their new unwitting and unwilling neighbors could never have entered these interlopers’ minds, when they were so preoccupied with not only their current survival but their escape from the hardships and sorrows back in their own homeland. That they themselves would suffer privation, fear, danger, loneliness, and the loss of their lifetime homes, belongings, families and friends across the vast ocean they had crossed was a stark enough reality that perhaps they willed themselves not to think too hard about all that they faced next also affecting the long-tenured native peoples across whose lands they moved like human bulldozers.

The establishment of this new home was far from smooth and easy too, as anyone could probably guess, though I wonder if any of them really considered that the goal as much as simple escape from what they’d known before. Still, none of those inhabitants of North America—invaders or original denizens—could possibly imagine at the time, I suspect, quite how vast the whole continent was and what that meant in terms of creating new colonies within it, let alone new nations. In the years that followed, the westward migration confirmed the existence of innumerable tribes and clans of people not before known to the new arrivals, but also of wild creatures unimagined, of terrain unlike any they had dreamed possible, of climates that had been the stuff of legend until then.

In those many decades of carving out new paths and territories, it was inevitable that, just as it had been with the foregoing generations of various indigenous peoples, there would be struggles over who had access to what, who could live where, and who belonged together with or as far as possible away from whom. No surprise that this led not only to separated towns and enclaves and ethnic, religious, political or philosophical communities but also, in turn, to a wild array of accents and ideas that might as well have been different languages and different species altogether.

Amazing that all of this could remotely possibly coalesce into what is known as the United States of America. Today’s states are still so diverse, even sometimes from county to county or one side of the railroad tracks to another, that it’s nearly laughable to call them United. We fight like pesky siblings with each other all the time; it’s a miracle, in my book, that the so-called Civil War, one of the most uncivilized events in the country’s history, hasn’t simply continued from its beginning to the present day. It does, perhaps, at subtler levels. Just because the invasion of the continent by a bunch of frightened Pilgrims who only thought themselves seeking freedom from tyranny didn’t destroy the whole land and kill every one of them off outright, and because the various internal skirmishes that led to, but were far from limited to, the Civil War didn’t complete that annihilation doesn’t mean we’re not still perfectly capable of incredible incivility at every turn. We try, we fail.

On the Fourth of July, I think of how astounding and—generally—good it is that this messy nation has managed to survive this long without self-destructing. But I can’t help also thinking this of most of the rest of the world. Humans just plain are messy. We form and break alliances; we argue over being Right instead of being compassionate or practical, let alone pursuing justice. We blunder around, hog resources, ascribe privileges and powers to ourselves and our chosen comrades that we willfully deny others, or just pretend the others don’t exist, and thanks to our weirdly, wonderfully diverse array of accents, when we do get around to discussing the least of these things, even those who ostensibly share a language can’t understand each other half of the time anyhow.

Just possibly, our life form may have been civilized at a few choice moments. There is plenty of potential in this odd species of ours, I like to think. Even we Americans aren’t entirely irredeemable; we keep bothering and beating up on each other like so many brothers and sisters, and yet most of us still manage eventually to just agree to disagree and, in moments of precious lucidity, even to see each other’s point of view and operate in an environment of respect and hope. As rotten as we can be to each other, we care enough to wrestle it out and try to find ways to go forward. Together, even. If that isn’t a family worth saving, I guess I don’t know what one is. Happy birthday, USA. Go forth and get a little more civilized, if you can.

Blue or Not, that Rare Moon

Digital illustration: Rare Moon Seeing the moon at its showiest as often as I have lately makes me immeasurably glad. At the level of pure appearance, its resemblance to a magnificent pearl hanging on the breast of the sky makes that nacreous gleam a beauty of which I can never tire, any more than I would grow weary of taking slow, deep breaths after a spring rain when the lilacs have newly opened. It’s as though all the finery ever worn by all the goddesses of myth has fused into that one palely magnificent, ethereal yet endlessly potent jewel in the sky, so powerful that it can be seen sharply delineated at the height of day, yet as delicate as hoarfrost or needle lace in the faint patterns of its glimmering surface. And like the poets, philosophers and writers who preceded me, as well as those at whose feet I now sit, I remain in awe of the very idea of the moon; its mysterious pull on tide, time and spirit all at once never fails to startle me when I stop to think of it. I would like to sleep every night directly under the moon, staring until my eyes can stay open no longer, if I could really sleep there: while I imagine it might be impossible to close my eyes with such magisterial magic before me. Even when the moon is at its slightest, at nadir or waning to a hairline, it keeps its mystical hold on my imagination. Sleep or no, I can only expect I would dream. The glory of the moon demands dreaming, and whether I rest or not under its wondrous beams I will always delight in seeking to replenish my store of dreams, and by such restoration, to renew my own strength by the welcome, fabulous light of the gleaming moon.

Nebulous


Digital illustrationThe mystical beauty of the moon and clouds the other night got me to thinking, as I admittedly do so often, about the ephemeral and ethereal qualities of our species and the strangeness of our even existing. When Space looms so visibly vast over us and insists on reminding me how tiny and potentially insignificant I am, my life is, in the grand scheme of it all, I begin to have exactly the opposite reaction any sensible person might assume I would have. I think that, just possibly, if there can be no logic or extravagant purpose evident for the creation and continuation of our peculiar and oddball race, then we can’t have just appeared at random or even serendipitously–we must really have arrived here with at least some intended point. Being a thoroughly sideways creature myself in so many ways right from the start, I find it comforting to imagine that the very impossibility if explaining my reason for existing seems to argue for some small purpose. Foolish dream or actual conundrum, it makes stargazing that much more attractive on nights like these….Photo

Above and Beyond

digital illustrationSky Candy

Stars, sun, comets, moon and planets; rain and lightning, clouds and mist;

Birds and butterflies and rainbows; dragonflies by morning kissed:

What a sparkling declaration of the minutes passing by,

What a joy, this constellation of sweet treasures in the sky!

Though I hunger in the silence of shut-in days, sleeping, blind,

I keep constantly the radiance of these jewels in my mind,

Hoping, dreaming, moving, soaring–real, or the internal, eye

Loves the beauties so alluring of sweet treasures in the sky!