from my journal for January 14, 1993
This describes exactly how I’m feeling today.
written in writers’ group, listening to music
Changes like the Moon. 20 minutes
The river flowing, underneath, under the soil, down in the sand. Massive, heavy, slow, dragging downward. Leaking gently through the sand. Like ink, indigo, blue-black, so dark. Dark and enormous. And on the surface the little houses stand, nice little houses, each with a painted door and a bit of garden. The people who live in the houses have worked hard to make them snug and cheerful, keep them clean and warm. They visit with each other, call across back fences. Are they aware of the river of grief that flows slowly under all the houses?
My friend Miriam Dyak wrote in a letter to me: “This river of grief that flows under all of our houses.”
The great winds blow, and storms and seasons pass. Snow falls, blundering and blinding, the sun comes out glittering, then it all melts to mush. Grey days and sparkling days pass like rain on the wind. The moon goes through its changes, flowers and birds come and go. Some days all is quiet, the river is peaceful, flowers nod under the sun, rain runs down the windowpane and soaks into the soil. Other days the great powers of the universe shake everything and turn it upside-down reminding us that we live on the edge of chaos, that anything could be unmade at any moment, that the world itself crystallizes out of chaos a moment before we look at it, fluttering out of the interaction of titanic forces like clouds flowering on a mountaintop. Our lives so precarious and fragile, trying to keep our balance on ice floes rushing down a river.
Unable to capture it in words, or even to find an analogy to the vision I’m seeing. Titanic forces, great darknesses and blazing light and boiling winds and where they meet a momentary brief flowering of color that is our life on this planet. A sense of all the complex forces that come together at the edge of chaos and especially how they are fighting each other, acting in opposition, tearing things apart, and right in between, where the forces are in balance, life and consciousness makes its delicate and fragile appearance.
Not so delicate and fragile either if people like Stuart Kauffman are right. Any particular bit of life is fragile, but life itself is a natural outgrowth of the forces of chaos. Life itself is tough and persistent and opportunistic.
For Stuart Kauffman’s ideas see my blog post.