Thursday, September 18, 2008

In the landscape of spring

Looking back on yesterday's post, which was on the theme of human rights and the flak which one can draw for being different in any way, I was reminded of a Chinese poem.

Now, I don't know if Bruce Lee wrote this (he was an artist, calligrapher, writer and poet as well as a martial artist, actor and director ... little wonder he passed over at a very young age: he had packed three or four lifetimes into the thirty years he lived among us). But Lee certainly quoted it in his book, or in the notes for his book. If he didn't actually write it, he might have translated it (he was completely bilingual too), which means it might even be Lao Tzu or Confucius ... I wish I knew for sure: anyone??

I remember reading it about 35 years ago, being stunned by its implications, and I've never forgotten it. These few lines say it all ... for everyone on the planet, no matter what your difference is:

    In the landscape of spring
    The flowering branches grow naturally,
    Some long, some short.

Even today, I find myself staring at those three lines ... 14 words ... and am struck as speechless as I was when I was a kid, growing up and knowing I was waaaay different from the rest of the little bast--dears. Reading those lines, you feel a tiny nub of stillness and peace inside, and if you look inward and pay attention to it, it grows until it threatens to fill you up, and you'd be ecstatic if it did.

The sensation you're feeling is acceptance. Not by your neighbors (Jill or Ron, and Bobby and Carol who live next door ... remember them from "Here comes Damocles with his chainsaw.") The acceptance you feel certainly doesn't come from anything to do with the government or legal system, either.

Now, some folks are almost certain to perceive "God(s)" in this sensation, but you'll have to exercise extreme caution if you're heading in that direction, because you'll get a big argument from the guys who sell salvation ("kindly leave a contribution on the tray").

If you were asking Keegan --? Nostrakeeganus, he say, what you're feeling is a waking up, an epiphany. Whatever, whoever, you are, you're (wait for this: hold your breath and soak it in through the pores) NATURAL. You're what eighteen billion years' worth of universal evolution (through the mechanism of eons of time, plenty of sex and inevitability of death) has made you; you're absolutely, 100%, what the Universe intended you to be at this point in time and space. Gay? Great. Black? Beautiful. Asian? Awesome. Fat? Far out! Short? Shooper! Tall? Terrific. Old? Orlright! You get the picture.

So, don't worry, be happy. So long, that is, as you know your theory of evolution, on the cosmic time-scale, the four-billion-year geological history of this planet, and Darwin's Solution to the God Hypothesis.

(Needless to say, if you've been taught, and firmly believe, Creationism, you're up the proverbial creek with no paddles in sight, even with a good pair of field glasses and two hours of fair weather. But we're not going to go there today. We went there yesterday ... and I can still feel the frustration of getting to the end of the logic train and finding -- not an answer, but a bloody great oil tanker head-on crash with a loco hauling boxcars filled with super-phosphate. To quote Edgar Montrose; KABOOM!!! So, we're not going there again. My ears are still ringing.)

Instead, we're wandering this route: the landscape of spring. It's spring here downunder, and it's fresh and beautiful. Went for a hike in the midst of it a couple of days ago, and I'd like to share the pictures.

Keep the poem in mind. Print it out and stick it on the wall above your monitor. Carry it in your wallet. (You could yell it at people who give you flak, but they'd only think you were even weirder for quoting poetry now.) So, think of the poem as you scroll down, and feel a little peace:

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