Monday, March 14, 2011

We Might Never Have Met

Chris Clarke:

There are a number of stories that include Coyote being killed, then jumping over his own corpse three times and rising again. This morning I imagined the coyote on Route 62 waiting impatiently for the traffic to subside so that he could do so without anyone watching. I know better. I’m an empirical materialist and I find immense solace in it. No meaning, no morals, the mere existence of unlikely consciousness in a physical universe a phenomenal stroke of luck that should awe each of us every moment for every moment of our participation in it. I don’t need pretend mythical Coyotes inhabiting my cerebellum. I know they don’t exist and I have chosen to populate my version of the world with them despite that fact.



Life is fragile. You and I are living lives just as precarious as those people who got swept away into the ocean last week. We just fool ourselves into believing otherwise.

But that's not a reason to live in fear. Life is a terminal disease. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said that life is like going out on a boat that heads off into the sea and then begins to sink. Yet somehow he managed to find a kind of joy and beauty in that. In fact, it is the precariousness of life that makes beauty and joy possible.

There are times, like last week, when it would possibly be consoling for me to believe in comforting stories about souls, teleology, benevolent destiny, and the like. Loss is much more crushing when you really allow it to be loss without seeking to cushion it with semantics. But by the same token, joys are that much more intense when you realize how precarious they are, how fortunate you are to have experienced them at all. I wouldn't trade this perspective for anything.

Oh, why not; let me quote from Sam Hamill's poem A Rose for Solitude again:

And if, as I pass,
I should look you in the eye,
do not be afraid: I want
only to glimpse the emptiness
at the center of your heart,
I want to reach for you
because I know,
as you do,
we might never have met.