“Suddenly I am seeing inside one of the homes of the common people. Everything is simple. Everything has its place. There is a sense of order to everything. I am able to discern, by watching the people, that they perceive their homes to be “alive.” The wood beams, the stone walls, and the hearth seem to hold consciousness or presence for them. For these people everything is alive; the entire island is alive, every blade of grass, every pebble, every drop of drew. The island is a conscious, sentient being. Whatever this presence is seems to dwell at the heart, at the very center of their lives as a people. I find myself feeling a deep longing to know such a sense of profound connection, relatedness, order, and harmony. This quality is strangely familiar to me but foreign to the reality of my life as I know it. I realize I have been yearning for this feeling my whole life.”
(from “The Spiral of Memory and Belonging” by Frank MacEowen)
Sometimes I run across something I read which speaks of a place or time familiar and yet foreign at once, such as the above paragraph in Frank MacEowen’s book. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to actually experience this vision directly. The impact of just reading it was a moving experience on its own. I know and have known this yearning he speaks of for as long as I can remember and had found it so hard to articulate.
I have always felt the world (and everything in it) to be alive and otherworldly, while simultaneously feeling what my senses and reason said it was. I felt these all to be true, even though they were all in strong contradiction to each other. The aliveness extends from nature with her forests, plants, streams and stones to buildings, machines and computers.
While many may feel a spiritual connection to nature, I wonder how many also feel the same type of connection to their computers, furniture or tools? When I am creating software applications, it is not just about logically organizing computer code, it is also about feeling the code in the language I am programming in, while at the same time seeing and feeling the vision of the final application. It takes on a life of its own, drawing me into its dance. I rarely if ever know where or how it will go; it just happens and grows on its own. Like planting a seed, which take in the nourishment it needs and becomes the life form it was destined to be.
Computers, technology even our modes of transportation are far from simple. Where is the simplicity in the CPU of my laptop? Where is the simplicity under the hood of my car? Have you really looked in the engine compartment of a newer model car and seen all the myriad of hoses and wires?
I can even ask where is the simplicity in the biology of a rose bush? The millions of cells with their Nuclei, vacuoles, chloroplasts, mitochondria and many more categorized parts; each with its own language of expression and volumes of scientific studies to define what it is. With our specialized sciences with names such as Proteomics, Metabolomics, Microbiology and Genetics, just to name a few; we have seemly limitless categorizations with which to understand and enhance our interaction with other life forms.
Perhaps the simplicity is not in the things themselves but, is instead in my or our relationship to them and how many of these relationships there are. There are simply too many things, so much so that one rarely has the time to interact or appreciate any of them. We live in a time of extreme consumerism, where something as simple and timeless as pot to cook in is no longer just a matter of going to get the pot but, may even seem to require a major research project to review the hundreds or maybe even thousands of different types and brands of pots to find the one, best pot. This is not counting all the specialized utensils and accessories we are being told we need to cook with that one best pot. Then there is always the question of is there going to be a better one next year which will require, of course, the replacement of our one best pot and ALL the best pot accessories.
The problem is perhaps not the choices themselves but, the belief that we MUST make them, because our own self worth and reason for existence is dependent upon the choices we make for our STUFF. That to continue to have a meaningful life we need to constantly be juggling our stuff to create the meaning.
We have become buried under hundreds or thousands of things, rather than having meaningful relationships to a few selected living beings, like friends that we work with. These beings could extremely complex either internally or by way of our interaction with them but, our relationship is one of friendship, reverence and connectedness.
So what is your relationship to your pot, your car or computer? What is your relationship to our forests, community and the earth its self? Are even your friends just another addition to your stuff?
I know in my case I need some serious dumpsters for my life cleaning.